Padres’ draft selection Michael Gettys. Mandatory Credit: gainesvilletimes.com
To be blunt, the Padres’ offense is terrible. They rank last in wRC+, a catch-all stat for offensive production. The players we expected to hit, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Jedd Gyorko have been huge disappointments. The only player who’s been good offensively for the team so far is Seth Smith, who was acquired for reliever Luke Gregerson in the offseason. They’re struggling against every team, even average pitchers like Tanner Roark, who has managed 17 straight scoreless innings against the team. So is there any hope? Will the Friars ever be able to match their great pitching with enough offense to be contenders?
Being blunt, again, the system is absolutely loaded. General Manager Josh Byrnes, and former GM Jed Hoyer helped put together one of the strongest crop of prospects baseball has seen over the last few years. Start with Austin Hedges, a potential cornerstone catcher. It’s been written that the Padres love pitch framers, and Hedges is one of the best in the system. But he’s not just another prospect to help build the defense, like so many others. Hedges has a legitimate bat, with a solid contact tool and decent power projections. They also have Hunter Renfroe, whose power potential is plus-plus if he learns to hit consistently enough. And don’t forget about Rymer Liriano, the best athlete in the organization who shows plus power with a strong hit tool.
Even though the system is deep with hitters, Byrnes knew what to do in the draft. There’s a clear need for offense at the major league level, and the draft picks reflected that. They took Trea Turner first, a college bat who profiles as a Gold Glover at shortstop. Then was Michael Gettys, whose exceptional tool shed has been compared to Mike Trout, praise be. They also scooped up Nick Torres in the fourth round, who stands out with above average raw power and a hit tool that lets him tap into it. And the offensive choices didn’t stop there:
- Auston Bousfield (5th round)- Outfielder who slots in at all three positions well, can stick at CF with surprising power from his frame. Great instincts let his tools play up
- Zach Risedorf (6th round)- Prep catcher who starts his profile with great defensive work, and the potential for a solid, impact bat later on
- Ryan Vilter (9th round)- Another college infield draft prospect, he’s big and athletic with power potential. Profiles best in a corner infield spot, but the bat could play anywhere
By drafting so much offense, more so than most teams in the draft, Byrnes and company have shown their commitment to getting this team back to the glory days. There’s work to be done with every prospect, but they understood the strengths and weaknesses of the system, and attacked the draft as well as any team in 2014.
There’s a clear focus on offense in the farm system of the Padres, even if the major league team is dried up and worn out. The talent is in the system to develop a top of the league offense, the only question is how they can do it. There will be a lot of pressure on the young kids to build up their tool sheds and to perform well, but there’s huge payoff potential as well. The present is bleak for the Friars’ offense, but the future is as bright as a sunset on Mission Beach.