Where the Padres' Top 30 prospects are starting the season

April 3rd, 2024

With the Minor League season opening this week, here's where the Padres’ Top 30 prospects are projected to start:

1. Ethan Salas (MLB No. 8), C -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
2. Jackson Merrill (MLB No. 12), SS/OF -- San Diego (MLB)
3. Robby Snelling (MLB No. 35), LHP -- San Antonio (Double-A)
4. Dylan Lesko (MLB No. 53), RHP -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
5. Leodalis De Vries, SS (MLB No. 98) -- Extended spring training
6. Dillon Head, OF -- Lake Elsinore (Single-A)
7. Adam Mazur, RHP -- San Antonio (Double-A)
8. Graham Pauley, 3B -- San Diego (MLB)
9. Jakob Marsee, OF -- San Antonio (Double-A)
10. Ryan Bergert, RHP -- San Antonio (Double-A)
11. Homer Bush Jr., OF -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
12. Randy Vásquez, RHP -- El Paso (Triple-A)
13. Nathan Martorella, 1B -- San Antonio (Double-A)
14. Austin Krob, LHP -- San Antonio (Double-A)
15. Victor Lizarraga, RHP -- San Antonio (Double-A)
16. Brandon Valenzuela, C -- San Antonio (Double-A)
17. J.D. Gonzalez, C -- Extended spring training
18. Marcos Castañon, 3B -- San Antonio (Double-A)
19. Jackson Wolf, LHP -- El Paso (Triple-A)
20. Alek Jacob, RHP -- El Paso (Triple-A)
21. Stephen Kolek, RHP -- San Diego (MLB)
22. Braden Nett, RHP – Fort Wayne (High-A) injured list (elbow)
23. Cole Paplham, RHP -- San Antonio (Double-A)
24. Jagger Haynes, LHP -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
25. Isaiah Lowe, RHP -- Lake Elsinore (Single-A)
26. Lamar King Jr., C – Injured (right shoulder surgery recovery)
27. Kannon Kemp, RHP – Extended spring training
28. Carson Montgomery, RHP -- Lake Elsinore (Single-A)
29. Rosman Verdugo, 2B -- Lake Elsinore (Single-A)
30. Garrett Hawkins, RHP -- Injured (Tommy John)

Team to watch
Two of San Diego’s five Top 100 overall prospects are headed to High-A Fort Wayne in Salas and Lesko, and the pair could form one of the Minors’ most interesting batteries. Salas is looking to build off his breakout 2023 and returns to the Midwest League after playing only nine games there as a 17-year-old last summer. Lesko is beginning his first fully healthy season in the Minors with the TinCaps, after his Tommy John rehab and recovery limited him to 33 innings in ’23. Lesko’s mid-90s fastball and plus-plus changeup could play even better with the advanced Salas behind the plate. Bush, a fourth-rounder last year out of Grand Canyon, has gotten even faster in pro ball and could be an absolute menace on the basepaths to begin his first full campaign.

Teams on MLB.TV and MiLB.TV
Triple-A El Paso
Double-A San Antonio
High-A Fort Wayne
Single-A Lake Elsinore

Players we could see in 2024
The Padres broke camp with three Top 30 prospects in Merrill, Pauley and Rule 5 pick Kolek. The next-up crew is mostly on the pitching side in Vásquez, Jacob and the newly reacquired Wolf, each of whom already has at least some experience in the bigs. Marsee has a shot to contribute to the Padres’ outfield depth if he can keep showing an above-average hit tool in his return to San Antonio, and Mazur has the special control that could get him knocking on the door in his second full season. Snelling would be more of a longshot as a 20-year-old starting pitcher in most other organizations, but San Diego gets as aggressive with its top prospects as any other organization.

New faces
Signed for $4.2 million in January, De Vries is already stateside as a 17-year-old, and while he’s getting his bearings in Arizona, it might be a matter of time before he moves to a full-season affiliate. Salas debuted at Single-A on May 30 last year, so keep that date in mind when it comes to De Vries’ timeline. Once Drew Thorpe was flipped to the White Sox for Dylan Cease, Vásquez became the top prospect remaining in the organization from Juan Soto’s trade to the Yankees. The 25-year-old’s high-spin breaking stuff could help San Diego in multiple roles.

On the shelf
Nett suffered a slight setback with his right elbow in Spring Training and wasn’t placed on the initial Fort Wayne roster. However, it won’t be a long absence as he is expected to make his TinCaps debut by the end of the next week. King is still recovering from right shoulder surgery in October and is expected to get in games later this summer. Kemp, a 19-year-old right-hander, is on the mend from a right shoulder impingement and is throwing bullpens in Arizona. Hawkins underwent Tommy John in August and will likely miss most, if not all, of the 2024 season.