The Padres lowest minor league affiliate – the Tri-City Dust Devils – kick off their season Friday night after getting to the 2015 Northwest League Championship Series in 2015.
Several Padres were just drafted will be on the team to start the season in the Northwest League including 4th round selection Joey Lucchesi. Also joining him will be 17th round pick Chris Baker out of nearby University of Washington.
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The Padres changed their affiliate for this league after over 20 years with the Eugene Emeralds, and the Tri-City Dust Devils made it all the way to the championship series before losing to the Hillsboro Hops.
The team will also have a new manager for the season. Ben Fritz, a 2002 first round draft pick by the A’s who made it up to AAA in 2006 but last played in 2010 takes the helm for the first time as far as I can tell. At 35 years old he will have his hands full with a young roster playing professional baseball many for the first time.
Several Padres top picks remain unsigned and are likely to filter through Tri-City throughout the season as they signed or sent down for minor rehabilitation assignments. After Tri-City players head to Fort Wayne which has distinguished itself as a top notch minor league organization over the years. Fort Wayne this season sits at 36-31 on the season. Of course the Cubs team in their league – the South Bend Cubs – lead the division with a record of 40-26.
Opening Night is Friday June 17th at 7PM against the Everett AquaSox. The season runs through early September, with the two “half” winners facing off in the playoffs for the league championship. They are hoping to repeat as half champions and this time take it all home as the Padres of the future get a taste of winning and carry it all the way up to the Majors.