Red Sox

Prospect-rich Padres have all the pieces to acquire Mookie Betts — if they want him

Red Sox

After a quiet start to the offseason, some Mookie Betts rumors have started to percolate. Recent reports have linked him to the Padres and Dodgers, albeit in little more than an exploratory way.

We've already run through the Dodgers farm system to see what kind of prospects might come back to Boston in a Betts trade. We've done the same for the Braves.

Now it's the Padres' turn.

San Diego has quietly built one of the best farm systems in baseball over the last five years, and it still ranks near the top of most rankings despite the graduation of players like shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., right-hander Chris Paddack, and since-traded infielder Luis Urias to the big leagues in 2019. Per Baseball America, the Padres have six prospects among its most recent top 100, tied for most in the game.

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If there's one asset the Padres possess in abundance, it's pitching. Twelve of their top 30 prospects, per MLB.com, are starting pitchers, including baseball's consensus No. 1 overall starter in left-hander MacKenzie Gore, who just led the minors in ERA (1.69) and isn't going anywhere.

He does help the Padres deal from a position of strength and depth, however. If the Red Sox need anything, it's young pitching, especially with the news that intriguing prospect Noah Song was denied a waiver by the Navy and must attend two years of flight school before exploring his baseball career.

 

With Gore off the table, the next brightest arm in the system belongs to Colombian right-hander Luis Patino, who pairs an upper-90s fastball with a power slider that earned him a promotion to Double A at only 19 years old. With a lifetime ERA of 2.35 and 10.7 strikeouts per nine in three seasons, he possesses some of the most overpowering stuff in the minors and could be the centerpiece of a trade for virtually any available star.

Next on the list is left-hander Adrian Morejon, a Cuban left-hander and consensus top-50 prospect. He made five appearances for the Padres last season, posting a 10.13 ERA at age 20 before shutting it down with shoulder pain. The Padres view him long-term as a starter, and he recently returned to action in the Arizona Fall League. He pairs a 94-98 mph fastball with a plus curve, though durability has been a concern.

Countryman Michel Baez ranked lower on most lists entering 2019, though he was still widely considered a top-100 prospect. The imposing 6-foot-8, 220-pounder experienced far more success than Morejon in his big league debut, posting a 3.03 ERA in 24 appearances and intriguing rival evaluators with an easy upper-90s fastball that suggests he has the stuff to be a future closer.

Next up is left-hander Ryan Weathers, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 draft and the son of former big leaguer David Weathers. The most common word to describe him is "polished," thanks to a three-pitch mix that may not be overpowering, but at the very least suggests a high floor.

The organization's best changeup belongs to left-hander Joey Cantillo, a 16th-round pick out of Hawaii in 2017. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, the former soccer player is athletic and projectable, and he dominated Low A at age 19 last year, going 9-3 with a 1.93 ERA before being promoted to High A. His fastball doesn't yet pop — he opened the year at 88-90 mph and ended it around 92 — but if he can add velocity, he'll climb the prospect rankings.

While a young arm would naturally serve as a starting point in any Betts deal, the Padres boast more than pitchers in their deep system.

Shortstop C.J. Abrams has emerged as the team's best position prospect, just months after being selected sixth overall in the draft. His calling card is game-changing speed, and he's a safe bet to steal 30 bases annually in the big leagues. He covers a lot of ground at shortstop and could even make the move to center field down the road, a la Betts shifting from second to right. He hit .393 in his debut and possesses exceptional bat-to-ball skills that make him a potential leadoff hitter.

If the Red Sox want an athletic outfielder, then Taylor Trammell could fill the bill. His performance has yet to match his tools, but even after taking a step back in 2019 — he started as a top-20 prospect and finished by hitting .234 between the Cincinnati and San Diego organizations — the speedy center fielder tantalizes with solid on-base skills and a plus makeup. A football recruit at Georgia Tech, the MVP of the 2018 Futures Game came to San Diego as part of the three-way trade that sent Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer to the Reds.

 

One final name to watch is Luis Campusano, a slugging catcher who blasted 15 homers at High A in a breakout campaign. A second round high schooler out of Georgia in 2017, Campusano hit .325 last year at age 20 while making defensive strides, establishing himself as one of the best catching prospects in baseball.

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