The 2024 season is right around the corner and the San Diego Padres still have a lot of work to do to get their roster in a good spot. After the departures of multiple key players on both sides of the ball in free agency and trades, the Padres are weirdly unsettled at multiple roster spots with no clear answers heading into spring training in a couple weeks.
In theory, the Padres could make some more additions this offseason. Ideally, they would bring in at least one more rotation arm and the outfield could also use some help after trading away Juan Soto for payroll relief. However, San Diego doesn't appear as though they have much money to spend and the options available in free agency are quickly dwindling.
With spring training coming up fast, it sure looks like the Padres are going to have to lean on internal options to fill a lot of these roster holes. Sure, top prospects like Jackson Merrill, Robby Snelling, and Drew Thorpe are the types of guys that have the best chance of making the team in 2024. However, every spring also sees guys come almost out of nowhere with big performances to force themselves into consideration.
The goal here isn't to focus on those top guys in the Padres' system, but instead on the guys that may not be household names for San Diego fans just yet. These are all guys that have the ability to do some damage this spring and get on everyone's radars, but who just haven't quite broken through into the mainstream just yet. Here are just a few Padres prospects that fit that mold.
Homer Bush Jr.
Guys drafted out of small college programs have a tough hill to climb as pros, but they also can be some of the league's best stories. Homer Bush Jr. was drafted by San Diego in the fourth round in 2023 with little fanfare beyond the fact that his dad was a big leaguer. However, his pro debut in 2023 opened a lot of eyes as he is quickly becoming a prospect that could force San Diego's hand in a hurry.
In just 44 games as a pro after he was drafted, Bush Jr. slashed .325/.422/.439 with three homers and 22 stolen bases. There are some questions as to whether or not his power will play in games given his approach at the plate, but he is very adept at putting the ball in play and letting his legs get to work. Helping the cause, he is a no-doubt center fielder who gets good reads off the bat and his speed allows him to get to balls that few outfielders can.
Bush Jr. did his part in terms of getting on San Diego's radar heading into spring training by blasting his way to Double-A so quickly and the Padres do need some help in the outfield. While it seems more likely that they will probably prefer playing an established bat out of position like Merrill or Graham Pauley to play in left, don't be surprised if Bush Jr. gets a long look at center field with Trent Grisham gone especially if he shows out this spring.