MacKenzie Gore (LHP) – Let’s play a game of word association. Mackenzie Gore….Balance. Athleticism. Projection. Gore encapsulates these words in human form. Watching him live, it’s easy to forget he was a 2017 draft pick and surreal to think this kid was in high school last year at this time. Seeing Gore on 3/10, it was hard not to draw comparisons to prep lefty Matthew Liberatore who I had seen a few days earlier. About one year apart in age, Gore proved to be lightyears ahead in terms of his development.
At 6’3″ 180 lbs, there’s undoubtedly room for some good weight. The fastball already sits 93-94 with command that is advanced beyond his years. His three secondary offerings: a high 70s curve, a mid 80s change, and a mid 80s slider all project to be average over better. It’s no wonder I have heard 70 OFPs thrown on Gore in unhushed tones. Expect him to move quickly, especially for a high school draftee. Not that I am adding anything new, but if they are not already, it’s time for Padres fans to get excited. There is bona fide ace potential here.
Adrian Morejon (LHP) – It’s really an embarrassment of riches over at Padres camp in Peoria. One day after taking in MacKenzie Gore (3/14, 3/15), I had the pleasure of seeing Cuban lefty Adrian Morejon. He’s listed at 6’0″ 165, but I think he’s closer to 5’11”. Some believe his fastball will play down due to poor extension and his diminutive frame. I saw a natural cutting action that I believe will counteract this and allow the pitch to play to plus. It was 93-95. Additionally, his fastball/changeup combo is the best I have seen all year. The change rested in the 81-83 range with big, late depth. Hitters looked helpless distinguishing it from his fastball and the velocity differential left many hitters stabbing weakly out in front of it. His arm speed and release point for both pitches looked identical. There was a lot of swing and miss on the change, around six or seven in only three innings. It projects to a 70. The curve was mixed in less frequently, but it had a sharp, tight shape. There’s potential for three plus pitches (60 FB, 70 CHG, 60 CB) and a number two ceiling is well within reach.
Cal Quantrill (RHP) – The 8th overall pick in 2016’s draft, Quantrill has been among the most divisive prospects among evaluators I have spoken with. On 3/16, he had the look of a back-end starter. His fastball was low 90s, touching 93 with moderate sink and some run. I think it plays down due to poor extension. The change was his best secondary, mostly in the 79-82 range with quality depth. Quantrill had good feel for it and was adept at using it as a put-away pitch. The slider was low to mid 80s and hung up in the zone far too often, a flaw that would be fatal at the highest level. At times it played to above average but not with any reliability. Lastly, but perhaps most notably, Quantrill threw a handful of high 80s two-seam fastballs, a pitch he has been experimenting on. At present it looked fringey to average, but it’s something to watch out for. This is hardly a novel idea, but whether or not Quantrill can develop a viable third pitch will go a long way in determining his effectiveness as a starter.
Dauris Valdez (RHP) – A towering 6’8″ 221 lb righty, Valdez thew one inning in a 3/16 minor league game. His fastball sat 96-98 and touched 99. There is some crossfire action in his delivery and natural plane due to his height. Valdez threw exclusively from the stretch in this outing. His control was below average but the stuff was good enough to cover up for it; at times Valdez missed his spot within the zone but did not get punished for it. He leaned heavily on the fastball but also busted out a mid 80s slider. Having only seen it once, it’s difficult to slap a grade on it. But it looked to be an effective offering, perhaps even 60 grade. The release point and arm speed for his slider were difficult to distinguish from his fastball. There’s some effort in the delivery but when said player is comfortably high 90s, who cares? Valdez has the look of a high-leverage pen arm with a chance to close pending the utility of his secondaries.
- Esteury Ruiz (2B/SS) – I have not seen a lot of Ruiz, but my first impression was he has surprising power for his size. He hit an impressive opposite field home run on 3/16, and it should surprise no one if he makes a meteoric rise on prospect lists this year.
- Miguel Diaz (RHP) – Acquired via trade as a part of the the 2016 Rule 5 draft, Diaz is a straight fireballer. On 3/10, he sat 95-97 and touched 99. It’s worth noting four days later his fastball looked more effective at a lower velocity band, sitting 93-95 and touching 97. There’s little effort in the delivery considering how hard he throws. His changeup and breaking ball flashed above average but were both inconsistent and left up in the zone at times. Diaz has high-leverage bullpen potential.
- Jeisson Rosario (CF) – In a 3/14 intrasquad game, Rosario made an excellent diving catch in right-center, showing off plus range and a good jump to reach a ball few other guys can get to. Later on in the same intrasquad game, I timed him 4.11 seconds home to first from the left, a solid 60 speed grade.
- Tirso Ornelas (OF) – An 18-year-old outfield prospecting hailing from Tijuana, Mexico, Ornelas launched a majestic home run off of Angel Acevedo in a 3/14 intrasquad game. It was an easy, aesthetically pleasing swing. Consider my interest piqued.
- Cole Rutherford (1B) – The older brother of White Sox prospect Blake Rutherford, it wasn’t too surprising to learn he was a college signee out of Cornell. I say not too surprising because he looked more mature/polished than his comPadres (zing, had to do it!) who partook in BP on 3/16. Rutherford has legitimate 60 raw power.