The San Diego Padres are finally getting respect for their improved farm system. If nothing else, fans will get to see some exciting prospects in action this spring.
According to a variety of sources, the San Diego Padres’ farm system has improved dramatically. Keith Law, senior writer for ESPN, just released his 2017 rankings with San Diego moving from 20th last year to third place.
“The Padres went very young in their rebuild, and they went big,” writes Law. “They boast more upside potential, more guys with huge ceilings…than any other system. The major-league team might be ugly this year, but their affiliates will be fascinating to watch.”
Before we trot out the champagne, however, it’s important to remember that the minor league player draft is almost universally called a “crapshoot”- with good reason. Only an estimated ten percent of all minor league players play in the big leagues. Many of those don’t last long.
For every Mike Piazza (drafted in the 62nd round in 1988), there’s a Matt Bush, often cited as one of the worst first-rounders in recent memory. It’s no accident that Bush, a Padre pick, gets the nod. To say that the Padres have not fared well in the draft would be an understatement.
Nick Canepa, long time writer for the San Diego Union Tribune, opines that the Padres have the “worst drafting in history not only baseball, but any sport…. The Padres have been rolling snake eyes for 5 ½ decades.”
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The Padres hired A.J. Preller to change that equation. As director of international and professional scouting for the Texas Rangers, he showed an ability to recognize raw talent when he saw it. During his tenure, the Rangers farm system ranked at or near the top, and the team won two American League championships.
In last year’s draft, Preller, obviously conscious of the dearth of pitching at higher levels in the organization, chose two college pitchers, Cal Quantrill and Eric Lauer, in the first round. He also traded for three of the prospects currently ranked in the top 10 for the team. Craig Kimbrel yielded Manny Margot and Javier Guerra, Drew Pomeranz brought Anderson Espinoza (and Preller’s suspension).
At least some of the highly rated players will get a chance to show their talents in spring training beginning February 25.