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San Diego’s Hidden Prospects

San Diego Padres prospects Matthew Batten, Tirso Ornelas, and Agustin Ruiz

The San Diego Padres have a good farm system stocked with both hidden talent and big names. The MLB has the Padres farm system ranked as 15th best in the league. They may not have mega-prospects like Adley Rutschman or Riley Greene, but they managed 4 top 100 prospects in SS C.J Abrams (6), OF Robert Hassle (30), LHP Mackenzie Gore (34), and C Luis Campusano (39). Having all of their prospects land in the Top 50 is a feat in itself, giving hope for the future of this franchise, specifically whenever older vets like Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer retire. Taking a deep look into the Padres top 30 prospects, not many names outside of the four listed above stand out as surefire future studs. However, that does not mean quality players or superstars cannot come from deeper within an organization’s farm system. The Padres have 3 under-the-radar guys - Matthew Batten, Tirso Ornelas, and Agustin Ruiz - who could develop into something special in the next couple of years.

One name that people are starting to hear a bit more about is infielder Matthew Batten, the Quinnipiac alum from Shelton, CT. The 26-year-old has made a name for himself these past couple of years after being selected in the 32nd round in 2017. He has shot up through the ranks of the Padres farm system and is a guy that could see a call-up very soon if injuries continue to decimate the Padres lineup. He slashed .241/.337/.333 in his first career season at short-season rookie ball. The following year, he worked extremely hard and was able to get the call to Triple-A. While it was only for two games, he showed he had the ability and grit to make it there. Going into 2019 he made a name for himself, playing all but 2 games in triple-A El Paso, where he slashed .299/.251/.424 and sported a .335 wOBA. The 2020 season was canceled due to Covid, which unfortunately hurt his chances of getting a call up to the bigs. Success continued the following year, showing he belonged at that level. So far in the 2022 season, he is hitting .299 with a .404 slugging percentage, .406 wOBA, and 135 wRC+ in 44 games. Batten has worked his way up to the 28th prospect for the Padres and is making a good case to get a start in San Diego this season. While not much of a power hitter, Batten’s zone presence and discipline make it tough for pitchers to get many swings-and-misses/strikeouts against him, with only 37 Ks in 167 ABs this season. He has also proven to be a utility guy for El Paso, playing almost every position on the field except for catcher (though he did get some work at that position in spring training a couple of years ago). Unfortunately for Batten, he has a lot of guys in front of him to work through in the talented Padres farm system. Perhaps a trade could be his way to the Majors. Regardless, he has a natural feel for the game and works as hard as anybody. He is definitely a guy you could see in the next couple of years starting at the Major League level.

The next potential diamond in the rough is Tirso Ornelas, an outfielder signed in 2016 from the Mexican league, the starting point for many MLB players. Ornelas was able to show that he is a top guy in the organization, becoming renowned for his high ceiling. Despite his early rise, the 22-year-old had a tough time in 2019, slashing .220/.309./292 with a .284 wOBA and 72 wRC+ at class-A Advanced Lake Elsinore. In 2021, he was able to push the numbers back up to .248/.344/.389 with a .334 wOBA and a wRC+ of 104 in 107 games, showing he can still improve more for years to come. He has come a long way since then, starting the 2022 season in double-A with the San Antonio Missions. Playing 35 games so far, he was able to jump into the top 30 Padres prospect list at 23, which could mean we see him in the Majors sooner rather than later. This season in San Antonio, Ornelas sports a .267/.310/.356 slash line, which is helping him make a case to get moved up very soon. Unfortunately, in most cases, the guys in front of him have a little more experience for their age. He is expected to be a 2024 call-up. With continued development, hopefully, he can crack a Major League roster in the next couple of years.

The last prospect is Agustin Ruiz, an outfielder and international free agent signee in 2016-17. He was under the radar for a while but broke out in 2021 when he hit a career-high 15 homers over 72 games in High-A Fort Wayne. He was quickly promoted to Double-A where he launched another 6 homers but struggled the final 35 games to end the season there hitting .194 and sporting a wOBA and wRC+ of .267 and 57, respectively. Those struggles showed that Ornelas still has a very long way to go to become a top guy in the farm system. However, Ruiz did produce in his time in the lower levels of the Minor Leagues, allowing him to climb up to the 24th ranked prospect in the Padres system. One major downside to Ruiz’s game is that he has yet to hit above .253 for a full season. Last year he slashed .234/.313/.429 in 107 games between A+ and AA, showing he can hit for power but still needs to develop at the plate. He was not able to keep that pace so far in 2022, with a line of .183/.304/.317 in 31 games. A lack of a true plus tool could limit Ruiz from being an everyday starting outfielder in the Majors, though his ability to play all three outfield spots could earn him a roster spot as a fourth outfielder if he makes strides with the bat. He is not expected to arrive in the Majors until 2023, so he still has time to develop into an MLB-caliber player.

While not garnering much attention from national media, all three of these prospects have a legitimate chance to make it to the Majors in the future. The hard work of all of these guys has been put on display in the Minor Leagues. With continued effort and development, these guys could be suiting up at the MLB level over the next few years, so be sure to keep your eyes out for them.



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