By Nina Zimmerman on April 29, 2014
In recent drafts, the Padres have focused the majority of their attention on scooping up the best prep pitchers possible, stocking up on young talent to bolster the system. In fact, three of the five pitchers on this list fall under that category. While the majority of the recent crop of young arms mostly can be found in the lower levels of the minor leagues, if the pitchers keep developing on track, the Padres will have an exciting staff.
One of the Padres’ 2011 high school picks, Ross is a strong ground-ball pitcher with a mid-90s fastball and an above-average slider. Improving his change-up and command, however, will be important as he moves up the minor-league ladder. Ross began this year at Class-A Advanced, and is 1-2 with a 2.39 ERA through five starts.
On the seven-day disabled list with Triple-A El Paso, Smith debuted last year, barely two years after being taken in the 2011 draft. He features an above-average fastball that usually comes in in the mid-90s and has significant late movement. He commands both his curveball and change-up well. Control issues make Smith a bit of a question mark, but if he can be consistent in the majors, there will be a rotation spot for him.
Since making his MLB debut in August 2012 and being named the Padres’ top prospect in 2013, Kelly’s road has been very up and down as of late. He had Tommy John surgey last April, and still hasn’t finished his rehab yet. When he does, he will get a shot at a spot in the Padres’ rotation.
Part of the Padres’ powerful Double-A San Antonio roster that keeps raking in Texas League titles, Wisler is another one of the Padres’ pack of preppies who is developing much faster than most people anticipated. His repertoire includes a mid-90s fastball and an above-average change-up. Wisler’s superb command, combined with an impressive work ethic, mean he could see a call-up later this year.
The top high school pitcher taken in the 2012 draft, lefty Fried features an above-average fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s and an even better curveball. Starting the 2014 season in Class-A, Fried is also ranked as the third-best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball. Scouts project him to debut sometime around 2016.
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