SAN DIEGO -- What a difference a year makes. From top to bottom, the Padres organization is markedly different from what it looked like at the beginning of 2016.In many ways, it was a transition year for the Friars, who began to reshape the course of the franchise midseason. They
SAN DIEGO -- What a difference a year makes. From top to bottom, the Padres organization is markedly different from what it looked like at the beginning of 2016.
In many ways, it was a transition year for the Friars, who began to reshape the course of the franchise midseason. They dealt a handful of veterans while revamping the farm system through trades and the amateur market.
Ultimately, 2016 may go down as a critical year in the franchise's history. But only time will give us that perspective. For now, here's a look at the club's top storylines from the year that was.
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5. Sluggers on a streak
Out of practically nowhere, the Padres' offense turned into a power-hitting juggernaut in July, mashing homers in 25 consecutive games to equal a National League record. The usual suspects -- Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Yangervis Solarte -- all contributed. But new arrivals Ryan Schimpf and Alex Dickerson played pivotal roles in extending the streak as well.
During the stretch, which lasted from June 28 to July 27, no player chipped in with more dingers than Schimpf, who hit nine. But it was Dickerson who launched the most prodigious blast of the bunch -- a ninth-inning shot to Rogers Centre's fifth deck on July 25 to extend the run to 23 games. It would come to an end three days later against Cincinnati.
4. Youth is served
The Friar faithful spent much of the season wondering when Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges and Carlos Asuaje would arrive on the scene. The quartet -- known as the "core four" at Triple-A El Paso -- helped bring home a Pacific Coast League title, before receiving a big league callup on Sept. 21.
They didn't disappoint -- Renfroe in particular. The 24-year-old slugger posted a 1.189 OPS in 11 games, and he notched arguably the season's most impressive homer. On Sept. 29, Renfroe became the first player in Petco Park history to reach the roof of the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field.
But it's important to note that the youth movement centered around more than just four September callups. Rookies Schimpf, Dickerson, Luis Perdomo, Travis Jankowski and Ryan Buchter all played pivotal roles for the '16 Friars.
3. Honoring Yuliett
The Padres' organization was struck by tragedy in September, when Yuliett Pimentel Solarte lost her battle with cancer. Early in the season, Yangervis Solarte had left the team to be by his wife's side. When her condition worsened in mid-September, he went back to be with her.
She passed away Sept. 17, and the Padres honored her by hanging a customized "Yuliett" jersey in the dugout until Yangervis returned. On Sept. 18, Adam Rosales -- who had taken Solarte's place in the starting lineup -- homered and reenacted Solarte's trademark "alligator clap" upon touching the plate.
"Right when I hit it, I knew it was gone," Rosales said at the time. "I went around first base, I thought about Yuliett and [Yangervis] the whole time. It was just a tribute. I feel like it would mean a lot to Solarte to know how much he means to us, how much his family means to the San Diego Padres."
Along with his three daughters, Solarte returned to San Diego just before the end of the season, and he completed a 14-game hitting streak, the longest by a Padre all year.
2. The star of San Diego
Who would represent the hometown Padres in the 2016 All-Star Game? Myers answered that question rather emphatically with his otherworldly June. The 25-year-old first baseman earned the National League Player of the Month Award, setting a franchise record with 11 June homers while batting .327/.529/.765.
Myers' midsummer surge not only punched his All-Star ticket -- he earned a place in the Home Run Derby and NL starting lineup as well. Myers slumped to a first-round Derby exit. But the following night he roped a two-out fifth-inning double in the All-Star Game, sending the hometown fans into a frenzy.
"It was really cool just to have [the All-Star Game] here in San Diego," Myers said afterward. "To experience the crowd firsthand, it was an awesome experience, one I'll never forget."
1. Wheeling and dealing
James Shields was the first domino to fall. The veteran right-hander was dealt to the White Sox on June 4, setting off a flurry of Padres moves before the Trade Deadline. Shields, Kemp, Andrew Cashner, Melvin Upton Jr., Drew Pomeranz and Fernando Rodney were all gone by season's end. By early December, Derek Norris had been dealt, as well.
Along the way, general manager A.J. Preller received a 30-day suspension for undisclosed medical information in the trade that sent Pomeranz to Boston. The Red Sox were given the opportunity to nullify the deal, but they opted not to, allowing the Padres to hang onto 18-year-old phenom Anderson Espinoza.
On the whole, the trades netted a glut of young talent. That was just one avenue through which the Padres replenished their once-barren farm system. San Diego's five Draft picks on Day 1 were the most in the Majors. And the club committed over $70 million to the international market -- more than doubling any other team in the Majors.
The end product? Twenty-two of San Diego's Top 30 Prospects have joined the organization since the end of the 2015 season. And the Padres feel the future is bright as a result.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.