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Talent development is Padres' focus in 2018

Top-rated farm system helping club build solid foundation
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- It was a (mostly) quiet offseason in San Diego this year. The Padres have already put their long-term vision into place, and they weren't about to deviate.

The fruits of general manager A.J. Preller's labor have paid off in arguably baseball's top farm system. And the current Major League squad will enter the season with one of the youngest rosters in baseball.

SAN DIEGO -- It was a (mostly) quiet offseason in San Diego this year. The Padres have already put their long-term vision into place, and they weren't about to deviate.

The fruits of general manager A.J. Preller's labor have paid off in arguably baseball's top farm system. And the current Major League squad will enter the season with one of the youngest rosters in baseball.

In short: The pieces are in place for the future. And they aren't going anywhere.

Padres' Top 30 Prospects

Preller signed a three-year contract extension in December that will keep him on board through 2022. Padres manager Andy Green is under contract through '21. And among the team's core of catcher Austin Hedges, first baseman Wil Myers, center fielder Manuel Margot, right fielder Hunter Renfroe and right-hander Dinelson Lamet -- all are under control until after the '22 season.

"Hopefully that leads to success," Preller said this offseason. "You need to get people and players that have ability, first, and then you've got to get stability. ... It's what successful franchises do. We're in a good spot for the next few years."

Padres' Spring Training info

They're in this spot largely because of Preller's work during the 2016 and '17 seasons, in which he deftly used the three avenues available for acquiring prospects.

The Padres placed seven youngsters on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list last week. Preller acquired two via the Draft (MacKenzie Gore and Cal Quantrill), two via trades (Fernando Tatis Jr. and Anderson Espinoza) and two via international signings (Michel Baez and Adrian Morejon) -- all during a 12-month span.

Video: Padres' system gives organization bright future

Two years ago, the Padres were an aging ballclub with burdensome contracts and a middling farm system. By no means was their direction clear. It is now.

Of course, there's the not-so-small matter of winning Major League ballgames. The Padres haven't made the postseason since 2006 and haven't made a serious push since '10. With one of the sport's youngest rosters, this season could be another meant for growth, not unlike last year.

"In order to build a franchise, it doesn't happen overnight," Preller said last month. "You need a period of time to go through Drafts and international signings and trades and give your group a chance to have some stability. That's what we've been in the process of building, and now we're taking some steps toward winning baseball at the big league level."

Preller has established a core of talented youngsters at the Major League level. Soon, they'll be complemented by the next group, one that includes shortstop Tatis, right-hander Quantrill and second baseman Luis Urias, among others. Ideally, that team will be approaching contention when the next group arrives -- featuring the lefty Gore and right-handers Morejon, Baez and Espinoza.

If the Padres can complement their talented youngsters with savvy free-agent signings in the coming offseasons, they hope to be contenders annually in the National League West by 2020 at the latest.

The vision is simple. The hope of the Padres' front office is that the on-field results will soon be just as clear.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres