The San Diego Padres have a ridiculous amount of depth in their minor league system.
The waves of talent are starting to approach the sunny San Diego landscape, as this team finally looks to be relevant in Major League Baseball.
Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, Dinelson Lamet, Phil Maton, and Carlos Asuaje are already well on their way to contributing at the major league level. Each young player got their feet wet in 2017, as they began their careers in the big leagues. But they are just the beginning. There are more.
More young talent is coming, and most of the immediate help is arriving in the form of pitching. Yes, Luis Urias, Josh Naylor, and Fernando Tatis are close, but the majority of the next wave will indeed consist of pitchers.
Both starter pitchers and relievers are on their way to San Diego to help the team. The Padres are about to get a shot in the arm in the form of talented young pitchers and it could not have happened at a better time.
Here is a glimpse at the likely candidates to possibly toe the rubber for the Padres at some point in 2018.
This big right-hander is close to being major league ready. He was 5-2 in El Paso, but had a 6.02 ERA and a 1.446 WHIP in 10 starts. If his numbers were better, he might have made his debut with the team last year. Instead the Padres called up Kyle Lloyd to make that one start for the team. Lockett is not a strikeout pitcher, as he has struck out 255 batters in 347 career minor league innings. He does throw strikes, but with little to offer as far as a swing and miss pitch, his upside is very limited. He has a good chance to get a spot start at some point in 2018, as long as he remains healthy.
Another older prospect who offers little in terms of stuff is Kelly. The right-hander was drafted by the team in the first round (48th overall) of the 2011 draft. He did little in his first four years with the team, but broke out in 2016 at San Antonio, going 2-2 with a 3.08 ERA in nine starts. He repeated the numbers in 2017, when he was 7-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 15 starts in the Texas League. He was promoted to El Paso and got shelled to the tune of a 7.07 ERA in 13 games and seven starts. Kelly has control issues and is not much of a strikeout pitcher. He ceiling is also very limited, but he could see time in 2018 for the Padres in some capacity.
Now we are getting to the good stuff. Quantrill has an outside chance at a spot in the rotation in 2018 (at some point). He will need to come into spring and establish that health is not a concern. The team will not want to push him too much. His right arm is valuable, and to test his limits this soon after Tommy John surgery would be unwise. Quantrill wants to pitch in Petco in 2018. He has told me that himself. Do not put it past this young man. He will probably start in San Antonio, but could get a phone call depending on how productive he is in Texas.
This left-handed pitcher is really close. Out of all the youngsters, he is probably the one who is assured of major league service time at some point in 2018. He has a great arsenal of pitches and his motion will earn him instant success. It will take time for hitters to adjust to his mix of funkiness and velocity. Lucchesi will probably start in San Antonio, but could be up before July if he continues to dominate hitters.
The Padres were very aggressive with this young man and it paid off. He started in Lake Elsinore and made it all the way to El Paso, pitching for the Chihuahuas in the playoffs. Nix has an outstanding curve and is an excellent teammate. He has an outside chance at a rotation spot at some point, but also might be brought up as a reliever initially. He has an arm that would transition well to the pen. Sometimes young pitchers have to earn their spot through a bullpen role. Keep an eye on Nix in the spring.
I really enjoy the way this young man pitches. He has a bit of an old school flare about him. Lauer is not overpowering, but will challenge and surprise hitters on the inner half of the plate. He has an excellent change and slider. With the command he has shown with both pitches, he could be a decent mid-rotation starter one day. Lauer does need to have plus command in order to be successful. In the times that he struggled last year, he was wild in the zone. 2018 might be a stretch for this young man, but with him already at the Double-A level, anything can happen.
The short-striding pitcher has developed, and of all the young men on this list, he has the most experience in professional baseball. He has thrown over 333 innings in his career and tossed 150 last year alone. He has a very nice sinker and usually pitches to contact. He has pretty good control, and at 22, could be in store for a big 2018 season. He will start in San Antonio or El Paso and is only a phone call away. The youth is certainly coming in the rotation.
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