Continuing the series from where we left off:
20. Nick Vincent
19. Michael Gettys
18. Taylor Lindsey
17. Joe Ross
16. Joaquin Benoit
And now, Padres 11 through 15.
15. Jace Peterson
Yes, he’s off to a poor start at the Major League level, but that – in my opinion – has everything to do with his patient approach. He’s had a walk rate above 10% at every level he’s ever been at, so the only explanation I can muster for his obscenely low BB% and obscenely high K% in his 58 Major League plate appearances is that he’s letting the count get to deep before being aggressive. That’s not uncommon, but it will require Jace to acknowledge that Major League pitchers can throw strikes before he starts hitting at this level.
The good news is he just turned 24 and has the defensive ability to play almost anywhere. He’s already played second and third at the Major League level, played shortstop throughout the Minor Leagues, and is rumored as a potential centerfield option long-term. And he fields them well, at least anecdotally; this stop at thirdbase was impressive visually and also was graded as a ‘remote (1-10%)’ play by Inside Edge at Fangraphs.
The value here is a player who can reach base while being a plus defender at several demanding defensive positions, team controlled for six seasons. Even if he only ever becomes his top ZIPS comparable, Spike Owen, that’s still a 1-2 WAR player at league minimum and favorable arbitration salaries. It’s not the sexiest way to bring value, but it is value nonetheless.
14. Kevin Quackenbush
The Padres have Quack for six seasons at bargain rates, not relinquishing his rights until he turns 31.
Quackenbush has never had a full season where his K/9 was below 10 until 2014, where it’ll likely finish at 9 while pitching at the Major League level. More impressively, Kevin Quackenbush has only surrendered five homeruns in his entire professional career.
As a guy who doesn’t throw overly hard – averaging less than 92 on his fastball – Quack has gotten where is by consistently locating his fastball low and by having a nearly untouchable curveball and changeup: combined, batters have only gone 3 for 38 against those two pitches at the MLB level, all singles.
Cheap with the ability to pitch high-leverage innings is a good combination, so while I dislike valuing relievers significantly, Quackenbush has so much controllable value remaining that he has to rank this high.
13. Everth Cabrera
Everth was perhaps the hardest person to rank on this list. He’s only under contract for one more season, and with Scott Boras as his agent, there isn’t much opportunity to extend him. His value exists entirely in his one year value on the field and, more importantly, as a potentially very valuable trading chip next July. The Padres don’t have many trading chips, let alone as a position player, so his relative value to the team bumps him up a little.
Yes, he’s a cheater. Yes, his career has been incredibly inconsistent. But I don’t think anyone denies that he has the potential to be one of the best five or ten shortstops in baseball. As a potential infusion in the top of a pennant chasing lineup, he’s gold.
Additionally, barring catastrophe, Everth would unquestionably decline a qualifying offer, should the Padres hang on to Everth through next season. Not all first round picks make this list, but they almost all have nearly this much value anyway. As a fallback option, that actually makes Everth a fairly safe piece.
12. Austin Hedges
I’m actually not even a huge fan of Hedges, from both a statistical and philosophical standpoint, but it’s hard to rank someone who is universally praised in the prospect industry any worse.
He’s already ready defensively and his offense isn’t as bad as his raw 2014 numbers indicate: his BABIP is sub-.270 is clouding what would otherwise be a passable, though not ideal, OBP at catcher. Let’s also not forget that he hasn’t even been 22 for a full month yet. There’s still some time for growth.
Why “some” in italics like that? Well, Hedges presents an interesting dilemma for the Padres. While it’s generally not wise to “sell low”, it’s even less wise to hold onto someone who is very close to having no value. Hedges may just be the case where it’s prudent to get what you can while you still can, especially when you have Rene Rivera and Yasmani Grandal on the Major League roster for the foreseeable future.
On the podcast, Jagoff and I have spoken at lengths about how the only real route the Padres have to immediately improve is in selling where they have excess value in order to make up their obvious talent gaps elsewhere. With all the praise Hedges gets heaped on him by prospect outlets, and given the current state of the Padres, I expect for this ranking to put to the test sooner rather than later. As is, I think this is a fair compromise between industry perception and lackluster performance to-date.
11. Yasmani Grandal
Trading Yasmani, at this trough in perceived value, would be insane. That was the first thing I thought of when I heard about these rumors. Here’s why trading Yasmani is a mistake, which also serves as the reason why he ranks 11th on this list.
- He’s got the third highest walk rate among catchers with at least 500 PA since Grandal debuted in 2012. The ability to completely avoid Petco when attempting to get on base is highly underrated by Padres fans; we shouldn’t ignore his incredible ability in this department.
- He’s one of the best pitch framers in baseball, meaning he adds strikes (and subtracts balls) defensively.
- He’s got some pop. He now has 20 homeruns in less than 700 career plate appearances.
He isn’t a free agent until after 2018. That’s one more really, really cheap season followed by three cheap-to-affordable seasons.
There’s little reason to give up on Yasmani just yet. He’s still young, still cheap, and still has all the potential we thought he had two years ago. Let’s not sell the guy short.