Though A.J. Preller pulled off a nice trade with the Red Sox to get a couple of prospects in the Top 100 List, he still has a lot of work to do. Baseball America confirmed as much with their latest Prospect Handbook, ranking the Padres 25th of the 30 MLB teams as reported by Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union Tribune. Without the Kimbrel trade they almost certainly would’ve finished in last place.
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As trade-offs go, Padres fans would be okay with this if they had say, won the World Series or made the playoffs at least last year. This of course was also not the case as the team had a worse record in 2015 than they did in 2014 before trading away top prospects and adding payroll.
Baseball America had this to say about the state of the Padres farm system:
"“The trade that brought Javier Guerra, Manuel Margot and Logan Allen to San Diego was a much-needed talent infusion that brought the Padres out of the talent rankings basement. Before San Diego’s Craig Kimbrel trade and the Angels trade that sent Sean Newcomb to the Braves, San Diego would have likely ranked 30th.”"
A pretty scathing indictment of where the team stands, and the Padres can’t say too much to the contrary. The only silver lining perhaps is that they do have Cory Spangenberg and Wil Myers penciled in to start on the right side of the infield, both top prospects not long ago and one a 2013 Rookie of the Year winner. Add to the fact that currently at the catcher the Padres have three: two highly regarded top prospects a year or two ago in homegrown Austin Hedges, recent Braves import Christian Bethancourt, and former All-Star Derek Norris. So the cupboard isn’t quite as bare as youth goes.
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In Baseball America’s own ranking of the Padres Top 31 prospects, they give the Padres credit for 3 shortstops in the Top 10 including Javier Guerra in the number 1 spot. In the number 3 spot is Hunter Renfroe who has risen through the Padres system and hopes to be a mainstay if not more when he should debut either late this season or certainly in 2017. Rymer Liriano should be a cautionary tale for Renfroe, as Liriano was on a similar trajectory before stalling, and was recently released by the Padres. He came in at 23 on the list.
Many of these prospects are still in the lower minor leagues, which gives the list both an element of hope and one of forlorn. Fans hoping a rookie will take the league by storm in 2016 will likely be sorely disappointed, but there seems to be a slew of names that could be ready to go by 2017. Can’t go too much further down can they?