Padres Minors: Padres Down On The Farm

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For all of the wheeling and dealing that A.J. Preller has done to remake the major league San Diego Padres roster, many are concerned that the Padres are leaving the cupboard a little bare.

Late Sunday afternoon the Padres gave up their top pitching prospect, Matt Wisler, in a deal with the Atlanta Braves for closer Craig Kimbrel. So are people right? Do the Padres have any more prospects or players ready to fill the holes that invariably flare up during a major league season?

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Yesterday, Corey Brock of MLB.com posted the Padres projected minor league rotations and it doesn’t exactly look great. In AAA El Paso you have outfielder-turned-pitcher Jason Lane, Aaron Northcraft (from the Justin Upton deal), James Needy, and our lefty friend Robbie Erlin. They are still working out who will be the fifth starter, now that Wisler is gone.

Notably on the roster, the Padres second top prospect, catcher Austin Hedges.

Double-A San Antonio brings us our final top three two prospects in Hunter Renfroe of Mississippi State fame. He killed it in High A last season, crushing 16 homers in 69 games before being promoted to AA. There he played another 60 games, but only collected five home runs. He played in the Arizona Fall League and did very well there, but 2015 will be an important year for him to show that he can continue to move up the farm system.

Trea Turner will also be on the team until he is officially named as the player to be named later in the Nationals-Rays-Padres trade that brought us Wil Myers. If you live in San Antonio and want to see him, you only have until the end of May.

Double-A’s pitching rotation will consist of Colin Rea, Justin Hancock, Bryan Rodriguez, Elliot Morris, and Bryce Morrow; no, Bryce Morrow is not related Brandon Morrow. Rea made 28 starts last year in Single-A, with an 11-9 record and 3.88 ERA. Rea hopes to show more consistency in AA and progress through the system.

The Single High-A Lake Elsinore Storm have a talented young rotation includes Ryan Butler, Zach Lemond, Justin Livengood (let’s hope he’s liven-low and away), Ronald Herrera, and Rafael de Paula. Butler was mostly a closer last year in Fort Wayne, but showed a strong arm. The Padres are excited to stretch his arm out and see what he can do over a longer period. In a short sample size last year he struck out 30 in under 22 innings.

Wrapping things up, down at nationally-acclaimed Fort Wayne Tin Caps, will be Thomas Dorminy, Taylor Cox, Ernesto Montas, and Walker Lockett in the rotation. Dinelson Lamet and Taylor Aikenhead will also make starts throughout the season.

The thing about prospects are – until they prove something, they are just prospects. Preller is betting hard that the known quantity of major leaguers is worth more than the potential of minor leaguers. Traded Padre Jace Peterson is already the starting second baseman for the Atlanta Braves. Yet, it is just as possible that one of these prospects will emerge as the next Jesse Hahn, and become a fine major league pitcher. Don’t forget Hahn didn’t make any starts above AA before getting the call from the Padres and pitch well enough to be trade fodder for new catcher Derek Norris.

What do you guys thing for the Padres minor league arms? Are you comfortable with what they have or are you concerned Preller has given away too much?

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