There is no doubt that the San Diego Padres farm system is stacked.
With literally dozens of relevant prospects in the system, the Padres future is very bright.
Hot lava talent is everywhere in the minor leagues, but beware. The prospects all can’t be successful. There will be duds. There will be flops. That is just how it goes in major league baseball. Nothing is a given. The Padres have thankfully surrounded themselves with so much talent that success should come. No matter what.
Not all lava is created equal. Some will harden and turn into igneous rock. As the lava cools, it looses its flexibility and becomes predictable and brittle. Right now as magma, these prospects have upside to be determined. The Padres job, like every other major league team, is to evaluate their own prospects and deal from a point of strength or trade prospects who you deem as having over inflated value right now.
Predicting which prospects will flame out is difficult, but the Padres do have depth in numerous areas.
Here are some groupings of prospects to keep an eye on as this winter approaches. The team will inevitably make a trade or two.
Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia have the major league job on lock down presently. They are both just entering their major league careers, but the Padres have multiple prospects behind them at the catcher position who could be useful. Austin Allen is probably the closest to being major league ready. He has a terrific left-handed bat, but has been slow to develop with the glove. Behind him, the team has Luis Campusano, Luis Torrens and Blake Hunt who are all viable catching prospects. Both Hunt and Campusano were drafted last year and are still teenagers. Torrens is playing well in 2018 and has a year of major league service time under his belt after being selected from the Yankees last year in the Rule-5 draft. If the team chooses to part with some catching depth, it would not be catastrophic to the future.
Starting pitching depth
Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi, Jacob Nix, Brett Kennedy and Walker Lockett all made their major league debuts this year in the starting staff. All had success in some degree except for maybe Lockett. There are plenty more pitchers behind them, in the minors, led by Cal Quantrill and Logan Allen in El Paso as well as Chris Paddack and Michel Baez in San Antonio. Then there are the dozens of teenagers lower in the system, including Adrian Morejon, MacKenzie Gore and Ryan Weathers. The Padres have so much pitching that it really is inevitable that they move some. It will be interesting to see who they dangle up in trade talks this fall.
Young middle infield depth
The Padres have needed a shortstop for seemingly ever. Freddy Galvis has been a fresh of breathe air after the years of Alexei Ramirez, Clint Barmes, Alexi Amarista at the position. The team has addressed that issue for the future by signing and drafting multiple young players who can play either short or second base. This year alone, they drafted Owen Miller and Xavier Edwards in June and both have taken off with their production. Names like Luis Almanzar, Gabriel Arias, Jordy Barley, Olivier Basabe, Tucupita Marcano and Justin Lopez could be useful for a team looking for a lottery ticket in the middle infield. At this point Luis Urias and Fernando Tatis Jr. are locked at the positions up the middle for the future.
No room for outfielders
Now this isn’t an area of depth exactly, but Manuel Margot is 23, Franmil Reyes is 23, Hunter Renfroe is 26, Franchy Cordero is 24. The Padres are pretty set in the outfield for the time being. Players like Michael Gettys, Buddy Reed, Edward Olivares and Jorge Ona could be deemed expendable, as they simply will not have an opportunity to play. Reed took off this year in the California League, but has struggled since being promoted to Double-A. Gettys has plenty of tools and is still very young (22). Ona and Olivares have been in Lake Elsinore all year and still have some maturing to do with the bat. The Padres have plenty of youth beyond these men as well, in players like Tirso Ornelas, Jeisson Rosario and Mason House.
The Lava is flowing in the Padres system currently, but there will be a time when it gets backed up at Petco Park. The team will eventually need to trade some prospects to fill holes in other areas. Especially as the team starts to compete in the National League and become relevant. A.J. Preller and his staff are surely in a deep self-evaluation of each and every player as they attempt to determine who has what it takes to compete and be successful at the major league level.