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The Journal Gazette

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette Fort Wayne infielder Xavier Edwards is one of the San Diego Padres' top prospects.

  • Marcano

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette TinCaps catcher Blake Hunt is one of Fort Wayne's highest-ranked prospects and his defense is already elite.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Xavier Edwards is the TinCaps' highest-ranked prospect, according to baseball website Fangraphs. There are eight TinCaps among the San Diego Padres' top 55 prospects.

Thursday, May 16, 2019 1:00 am

TinCaps part of stacked Padres' system

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

TinCaps vs. Lansing

Where: Parkview Field

When: 7:05 p.m.

Pitchers: Joey Cantillo (TinCaps) vs. Sean Wymer (Lugnuts)

TV: Xfinity 81

Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM

The San Diego Padres' farm system is almost universally ranked as the top system in all of baseball.

Padres general manager A.J. Preller has built a minor-league pipeline that manages to include uber-prospects like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack alongside a wealth of players that project to be at least serviceable major leaguers and perhaps more within the next five years. 

Among that latter group is a large collection of players currently plying their trade in Fort Wayne with the TinCaps. Fangraphs, a statistics-driven baseball website recently released its top prospects list for the Padres' organization and there are eight TinCaps players who make the site's rundown of the top 55 in the system. 

This is a breakdown of those eight players, where they land and an analysis of their performance so far this season.

Xavier Edwards

Age: 19

Position: 2B, SS

Fangraphs prospect rank: 14

Fangraphs scouting description: “Has a traditional leadoff hitter's skill set from a tools/stylistic standpoint, but a modern leadoff man's approach and on-base ability.”

Analysis: Essentially what Fangraphs analysts Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel are saying is that Edwards has blazing speed and steals a lot of bases but also hardly ever strikes out and walks plenty. He leads the Midwest League in batting average (.357) and OBP (.426) and is third in steals (11). 

Tucupita Marcano

Age: 19

Position: 2B, SS

Rank: 15

Scouting description: “(Marcano) not only has good feel for the strike zone, but also has the hand-eye coordination and bat control to spoil tough pitches, and barrel mistakes. He is very slight of build.”

Analysis: Marcano struggled slightly to start the season but has been on fire lately and his average is near .300. He's striking out slightly more than expected, though still well below average for a 19-year-old at this level. Fangraphs is concerned about whether he'll ever develop power and he has just seven extra-base hits this season. Still, his bat-to-ball skills and defense are plus.

Ryan Weathers

Age: 19

Position: LHP

Rank: 17

Scouting description: “He's a short-strider, so the fastball is going to play down a bit due to poor extension, but otherwise he projects as a mid-rotation arm due to the quality of his secondaries.”

Analysis: Fangraphs calls Weathers a “bulldog” and it's hard to argue with that description. As they also mention, he's incredibly athletic and could move quickly through the system, as there isn't much physical projection left for him. When he's touching 95 mph and commanding his breaking stuff (as he has most of this year), he's too good for the Midwest League.

Blake Hunt

Age: 20

Position: Catcher

Rank: 17

Scouting description: “He's athletic, is going to catch, has a great frame, and his swing has an athletic foundation that should be refined over time.”

Analysis: Hunt is a defense-first catcher who is excellent at blocking pitches and has a strong arm, but his bat has lagged a bit (he's hitting just .198). His swing is short and quick, but he doesn't get to all of his power because of a lack of consistent balance in the box, per Fangraphs.

He's a worker, though, and improvement can be expected as the season wears on.

Grant Little

Age: 21

Position: OF

Rank: 35

Scouting description: “Little doesn't have sexy tools, but he can hit and passably play a number of positions – all three outfield spots and maybe second base – because he has good baseball feel and instincts.”

Analysis: Little has bounced back after a tough 0-for-22 stretch at the plate in early May and is getting on base at a .365 clip. He hasn't shown any power, but he has been arguably Fort Wayne's best defensive player: A strong-armed outfielder who gets great jumps on fly balls. He could be an asset with his glove at higher levels.

Agustin Ruiz

Age: 19

Position: OF

Rank: 47 

Scouting description: “As his body has matured, (his) tools have all improved, and done so without Ruiz losing mobility because his broad, square-shouldered frame had plenty of room for this new mass.”

Analysis: Ruiz has gap power right now – he has 10 doubles this season, but no homers – but he could develop over-the-fence ability has he gets older. If he does, it will mitigate some of his tendency to swing and miss, which is important since he's striking out 32% of the time this season.

Dwanya Williams-Sutton

Age: 21

Position: OF

Rank: 51

Scouting description: “Built like an NFL running back, Williams-Sutton is a small school power/speed project. ... He may have success at the lower levels just based on how much stronger than the typical A-ball prospect he is.”

Analysis: Williams-Sutton has certainly shown that strength this season, as he's one of the TinCaps' team leaders in exit velocity on his hardest-hit balls. Fangraphs worries about a lot of swing-and-miss in his game and that's been an issue this year with a 26% strikeout rate. His 15% walk rate is encouraging, however.

Jawuan Harris

Age: 22

Position: OF

Rank: 54

Scouting description: “A plus-plus runner with above-average bat speed and a compact stroke, Harris is predictably raw in all facets of baseball, especially at the plate.”

Analysis: Harris played football at Rutgers as well as baseball and that kept him from honing the finer points of hitting that are usually needed for success as a pro. Still, he's held his own at the plate in the low minors and his speed is an asset to any team he plays for. He's shown a decent eye at the plate and his instincts should improve as he gains experience.

dsinn@jg.net