Ranking the Padres: 1-5

Today, we get to finish this series. In case you didn’t get to see them, here’s prospects 6-10 following where we had previously left off and its predecessor. For convenience, the players are listed here as well:

20. Nick Vincent
19. Michael Gettys
18. Taylor Lindsey
17. Joe Ross
16. Joaquin Benoit
15. Jace Peterson
14. Kevin Quackenbush
13. Everth Cabrera
12. Austin Hedges
11. Yasmani Grandal
10. Seth Smith
9. Matt Wisler
8. Trea Turner
7. Ian Kennedy
6. Jesse Hahn

And finally, Padres 1-5…

5. Rymer Liriano

Rymer got his first cup of coffee in MLB in mid-to-late 2014, earning a call-up right after A.J. Preller got the reigns of general manager.

Liriano had a mixed debut. He simultaneously passed the eyeball test, while failing the stats test. It’s not exactly common to hit monstrous homeruns like this, while putting up a .266 slugging percentage, but Rymer rose (?) to that challenge.

There’s also this caveat to his statistics: he was chronically misused by Bud Black. Young, athletic players with raw power shouldn’t be fighting for playing time on the worst offensive team in baseball, when they’re practically eliminated from the playoffs. There was very little to gain by benching Liriano and potentially valuable plate appearances went to waste.

Liriano’s value should be obvious. He’s young, may end up a plus player in numerous aspects of the game, and is team-controlled for six more years at a bargain. If Bud Black misplays him, that’s negative value attributable to Bud Black – another reason to fire him – not negative value to Rymer.

Don’t get too down on Rymer. Even Mike Trout’s first cup of coffee went terribly.

4. Jedd Gyorko

Despite a bad sophomore season, Jedd still has a lot of value. Namely, he’s cheap, he plays a difficult defensive position adequately, he hits for power in a power-starved era, and he’s a reasonable bet to improve.

His contract isn’t particularly fantastic, but is still a bargain relative to the alternatives on the market; you’re not going to find a second baseman on the free agent market that you can acquire for $34 million over the next five seasons with the ability to hit 23 homeruns (as he did in 2013) while playing half his games at Petco.

Jedd is one of the (very) few building blocks that the Padres have. He wouldn’t come cheap.

3. Hunter Renfroe

I bet a lot of people would put Renfroe at the top of this list, but that’s getting way ahead of ourselves. Third is actually a pretty favorable ranking, to be honest.

Let’s not forget this is a guy who will be 23 in January after putting up a .660 OPS in 251 AA plate appearances. In other words, you’re putting a lot of faith in a guy who has literally never excelled above Lake Elsinore.

Yes, multiple prospect “experts” and scouts rave about his raw ability, and he’s coming off a good showing in the difficult-to-judge fall league. That’s why he’s on the list.

But let’s not act like he’s a mortal lock to hit 25+ homeruns at the Major League level, or treat his value as such. Right now he’s an intriguing prospect with the potential to become a middle of the lineup producer in right field.

Those are valuable, but (by definition) not more valuable than guys who would fetch more in a trade.

2. Andrew Cashner

Cashner’s a scout darling, because of his hard fastball, but between injuries, inconsistent performance, and a strikeout rate far below what you’d expect for a guy who can flirt with triple digit velocity, Cashner has a handful of question marks that dampen his value.

Even with that said, he still has tremendous upside, is cheap and team-controlled for a few more seasons, and might be the only guy in the Padres entire organization with a shot at becoming a true ace.

That last part is what gives him significant value, in general, as it means he’s potentially useful to all 30 teams.

I think we’ve bogged ourselves down with reasons to be bearish on Andrew Cashner, maybe because we’re still sour that it cost Anthony Rizzo to acquire him. It doesn’t help that his W.A.R. isn’t as good as you might expect, although I’ve stated numerous times that W.A.R. in extreme environments (and for extreme players, let alone both) isn’t entirely accurate.

We still shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that despite those shortcomings, he’s still already useful with a higher ceiling that 99% of the pitchers the Padres have had at his age.

I’d be disappointed if he didn’t bring back at least one top 30 prospect in a trade.

1. Tyson Ross

Tyson Ross is an awesome story for a variety of reasons. He’s clearly the best Josh Byrnes acquisition, he actually contributes to the Balsley mystique argument, his younger brother is one of the Padres top pitching prospects, and it doesn’t appear to be a fluke.

Sure, his innings total still hasn’t reached a point where you can forget his earlier seasons entirely. But between his ridiculous swinging strike rate and long record of being somewhat scouts always alerted us to as a potential breakout candidate, I’d be willing to bet that he’s less susceptible to regression than most guys with a similar statistical profile.

Succinctly put: Tyson Ross is under team control for three more seasons while trending upward upon entering his prime as a 28 year old.

A similar player in free agency would cost a team more than $100 million over a much riskier length of contract. Ross will earn arbitration salaries totaling roughly $25 million before he hits free agency. The excess value there may be $25 million before you even consider opportunity costs for teams looking to acquire him. On a team with few valuable pieces, that places Tyson firmly at spot one.


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