AJ Preller is the frontrunner for Executive of the Year heading into the 2021 season. But for that to happen, this Padres ball club he assembled will have to live up to the tremendous hype.
This winter, San Diego walked a tight rope between going all-in and building a postseason favorite and casting an eye toward the future with a loaded farm system. Although the team traded 15 of the 30 prospects ranked as the organization’s best a year ago – they held onto their top names – all while adding the likes of Mike Clevinger, Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove.
"“It definitely feels good that we’ve been able to hold onto some of the guys at the top of our system,” Padres farm director Sam Geaney told MLB.com. “Some of the higher-end talent still remains, and it’s fun for us, as a development group, to get our hands dirty and move onto the next group and see who we can lift up and who can step up.”"
In the latest preseason rankings, MLB Pipeline has the Padres’ farm system pegged as the sixth-best in baseball, even after the flurry of moves Preller made over the last six months. That speaks to the tremendous depth the organization has – which the front office hopes means a window of contention that lasts for many years to come.
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Padres: Top prospects all have tremendous potential
That crop of young talent is headlined by left-hander MacKenzie Gore, who has struggled this spring while attempting to force the team’s hand into giving him a roster spot. He’s joined by the likes of phenom infielder CJ Abrams, catcher Luis Campusano, outfielder Robert Hassell and southpaw Ryan Weathers.
Campusano has a chance at making his mark at the big league level with starting catcher Austin Nola recovering from a fractured finger. Abrams has been hot this spring, turning heads in countless ways and Weathers also got a look for a spot on this pitching staff.
What makes this group so impressive is just how high the floors are for all five of these guys. All project as, at the very least, quality players and, at the best, potential perennial All-Stars and Cy Young contenders. The fact Preller acquired the players he did while holding onto his best prospects will pay dividends for the Padres for years to come.
So, in short, more good news for Padres fans. The team is heading into 2021 with unprecedented hype – and better yet, that hype figures to surround the club for years to come, thanks to this farm system.