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Padres pitching prospects make Futures Game

@AJCassavell
June 28, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Over the past two years, A.J. Preller has had countless opportunities to deal from within his top-ranked farm system for rotation help. Not one of those deals has come to fruition. The biggest reason why? The Padres feel like they have top-tier internal options who are close

SAN DIEGO -- Over the past two years, A.J. Preller has had countless opportunities to deal from within his top-ranked farm system for rotation help. Not one of those deals has come to fruition.

The biggest reason why? The Padres feel like they have top-tier internal options who are close to making a major impact on the big league club. Three of those rising young starters will be on display next month in Cleveland.

On Friday morning, Major League Baseball unveiled its rosters for the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game. The Padres were one of five teams with three prospects to receive the call. Lefties MacKenzie Gore and Adrian Morejon and right-hander Luis Patino -- the team's top three pitching prospects -- were all named to the National League squad.

"It speaks to some of the depth that the baseball operations and scouting group has assembled here," said farm director Sam Geaney. "The gravity of it is not lost on us. It's definitely one of our favorite events as an organization, and we're very excited to send three of our young arms and to see how they show on a very big stage."

Among that group, Gore is rated most highly. He's the team's No. 1 prospect and No. 3 overall, and his numbers this season are downright absurd.

Pitching for Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore, Gore owns a 1.12 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings. He's allowed nine runs in 14 starts. Speculation abounds about Gore's potential promotion to Double-A Amarillo.

"He's been great across the board," Geaney said. "... It's been really a pleasure to see him at 100 percent of who he can be. The fire that burns in MacKenzie, you know he's trying to be even better tomorrow, better next year than he is right now. But he's done a very very good job of staying in the present."

Patino, the team's No. 3 prospect and No. 40 overall, is off to a strong start in the hitter-friendly California League. As one of the league's youngest players, he owns a 3.15 ERA with more than 11 strikeouts per nine innings.

Morejon hasn't had quite the same success as Patino and Gore. He dealt with shoulder and back tightness in the early stages of the year, and because of those ailments, he's been limited to around 40 pitches in his starts. In 12 outings, he owns a 5.46 ERA, though he's striking out hitters at a 28 percent clip. Needless to say, the Padres still envision big things from the 20-year-old left-hander.

The Futures Game, which takes place July 7 at Progressive Field, will switch to an AL vs. NL format after 20 years featuring U.S. and International teams. The annual prospect showcase has been shortened from nine to seven innings, as well.

No matter the format, the Padres’ presence will certainly be felt.

"Any time you get a chance to see your players on a stage against the best that the rest of baseball has to offer, you can see some really fun things,” Geaney said. “It gives you a gauge of where they stack up."

Margot heats up
Center fielder Manuel Margot started his fourth straight game Friday, a further indication that the Padres are pleased with his improvements on offense. Entering play Friday night, Margot was hitting .348/.400/.609 in his last 10 games.

Those numbers sharply contrast his slow start. Margot’s OPS dipped to .572 two weeks ago, and despite his excellent speed and defense, the Padres had relegated him exclusively to late-inning defensive-replacement duties.

"He's come out here, and he's worked really hard," manager Andy Green said. "There's two ways you can respond to adversity. You can say, 'I'm just not good enough.' Or you can say, 'I'm not settling for this.' He's done the latter."

Of course, Margot's uptick in playing time means that a slumping Wil Myers hasn't started since Saturday in Pittsburgh. Myers owns a .604 OPS in June.

"It'll circle back around to Wil," Green said. "He's going to have a ton of opportunity to impact us."

Noteworthy
• Hunter Renfroe is battling a stomach bug and was a late scratch from the starting lineup Friday night. Rookie outfielder Josh Naylor took Renfroe's place.

• Travis Jankowski is with the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas, working out and "getting closer" to starting a rehab assignment, Green said. The veteran outfielder broke his left wrist during Spring Training and hasn't played this season.

• Lefty reliever Aaron Loup is working out at the team's complex in Peoria, Ariz. He's eyeing a return in "late August, early September if things go well," Green said.

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