PHOENIX -- For all the talk about sustainability and spending with this Padres roster, the biggest key to long-term success will be the team’s ability to replenish its once-top farm system. General manager A.J. Preller said as much earlier this month.
"We relish the opportunity," Preller said. "You’ve got to go out, and you’ve got to scout and every single year, have good drafts, have good international programs. But also, we feel like there’s still a lot of talent in the system."
Case in point: the hot start for Single-A Lake Elsinore, which entered play Sunday in first place in the California League, with the league's best run differential at +29. The Elsinore pitching staff has led the way with a league-best 3.08 ERA.
The 39th overall selection in the 2022 MLB Draft, Snelling is precisely the type of player the Padres need to hit on to revamp their farm system. Team evaluators were high on Snelling last summer – high enough to give him a $3 million signing bonus to lure him away from a potential two-sport baseball/football track in college.
But Snelling didn’t pitch at any level of the Padres’ system last summer, as the team focused on reworking his build in Peoria, while adding a changeup to his already excellent fastball/curveball combo. Hard to argue with the early results.
Here's an early season rundown on each level of the Padres' system:
Double-A San Antonio
It has been a rough go offensively for the Missions, who entered Sunday without a qualifying hitter posting an OPS above .650. Tirso Ornelas, once a big-name prospect and now ranked No. 28, has scuffled a bit to start the season, but he has shown promising signs, as well. Ornelas has a pair of homers and 10 walks through 14 games, though he's hitting just .188. The Missions have won three straight and sit 7-7 in the Texas League.
Single-A Lake Elsinore
There are a number of standouts to mention, in addition to Snelling. Fellow starting pitchers Manuel Castro, Austin Krob and Isaiah Lowe (the Padres' No. 25 prospect) have made two starts apiece, none with an ERA above 2.25. Offensively, catcher Anthony Vilar posted a 1.318 OPS through his first 10 games.