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Pipeline names Padres' Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- For the second consecutive season, Fernando Tatis Jr. has earned recognition as the Padres' top prospect. Suffice it to say, there's little chance of a three-peat.

Tatis, the No. 2 prospect in baseball, was touted as the organization's best hitting prospect by MLB Pipeline, while right-hander Chris Paddack -- in his return season from Tommy John surgery -- took home the honor as the top pitcher.

SAN DIEGO -- For the second consecutive season, Fernando Tatis Jr. has earned recognition as the Padres' top prospect. Suffice it to say, there's little chance of a three-peat.

Tatis, the No. 2 prospect in baseball, was touted as the organization's best hitting prospect by MLB Pipeline, while right-hander Chris Paddack -- in his return season from Tommy John surgery -- took home the honor as the top pitcher.

Video: Tatis Jr. is named the top Padres prospect

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Tatis missed the final month-and-a-half of the Minor League season with a broken bone in his left thumb. He sustained the injury while sliding into second base. It didn't dampen his accomplishments in 2018.

After a bit of a slow start at Double-A San Antonio, Tatis bounced back in a big way. In 88 games, he finished with a .286/.355/.507 slash line with 16 homers.

"He was one of the youngest players in the league," Padres general manager A.J. Preller said following the injury. "We challenged him, and I think he responded to the challenge. In baseball you have to respond to failure. He's shown he can be given a challenge, then come through with flying colors. ... He was able to take his game to a different level."

The Padres viewed Tatis' injury as merely a blip. He's going to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic, and he's going to be in big league camp next spring, when he'll compete for a roster spot. It's doubtful he cracks the Opening Day squad, but he's almost certainly going to arrive in the big leagues during the first half of next season.

As for Paddack, he's eyeing a 2019 arrival as well, after a brilliant '18 campaign between San Antonio and Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore. Paddack, who missed the entire '17 season following Tommy John surgery, posted a 2.10 ERA in 90 innings. He recorded an obscene 120 strikeouts to just eight walks.

Watch: MiLB Video

Paddack, who came to the Padres for Fernando Rodney at the 2016 Deadline, is expected to be invited to big league camp. It's doubtful he earns a rotation spot, but if he continues his rapid ascension, he isn't too far from a promotion to the big league club.

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

San Diego Padres, Fernando Tatis Jr., Chris Paddack

Inbox: Will Padres deal corner outfielder?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell answers questions from San Diego fans
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Lots to discuss as the Padres head toward the offseason. From the outfield logjam to the wide-open rotation race to the looming 40-man decisions, general manager A.J. Preller has quite a bit to sort out before Spring Training.

Let's dive right into your questions on those subjects.

SAN DIEGO -- Lots to discuss as the Padres head toward the offseason. From the outfield logjam to the wide-open rotation race to the looming 40-man decisions, general manager A.J. Preller has quite a bit to sort out before Spring Training.

Let's dive right into your questions on those subjects.

:: Submit a question to the Padres Inbox ::

If the Padres determine Wil Myers isn't a third baseman, what are the odds a corner outfielder is traded, and who is likeliest to be traded?
-- Steven, San Diego

The first part of the question is the important part. The Padres might not be ready to give up on Myers at third base. They feel as though he could greatly benefit from an offseason's worth of work. Myers, after all, only had a couple weeks of pregame drills at the position before he started playing there full time.

That said, his time there wasn't particularly pretty. And if Myers can't play third, there's a pretty good chance the Padres would deal one of their three corner guys -- Myers, Franmil Reyes or Hunter Renfroe. I'd put the odds somewhere between 50-75 percent. Sure, depth is important, but the Padres seem to have plenty of that, with the lefty-hitting Franchy Cordero returning from elbow surgery. With Cordero back, there's probably not much reason to carry three righty-slugging corner outfielders.

So who's likeliest to be traded? I'd put the odds on Renfroe and Myers as relatively even. After Renfroe's breakout season, his value's probably pretty high, and he could easily be part of a package to acquire a top-tier pitcher. It's close, but Reyes is probably the best bet to stay. The Padres are very high on him, and there might be a gulf between their valuation of him and the rest of the league's.

What will the 40-man roster look like on Dec. 4?
-- Rick, La Mesa, Calif.

This probably isn't the space to go man-for-man on the Padres' 40-man roster. But, suffice to say, there will be changes. The club needs to add a handful of prospects to the 40-man by Nov. 30, so they can be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. To do so, there will almost certainly be a few players non-tendered by the Nov. 20 deadline. Here's my best guess at the additions and subtractions:

Who the Padres might add: Prospects Chris Paddack (No. 5), Anderson Espinoza (No. 11) and Austin Allen (No. 25) will be added to the roster, without question. Edward Olivares (No. 28), Pedro Avila (No. 29) might be added, too. I'd guess Michael Gettys, Hansel Rodriguez and Ty France will remain unprotected. There might be a free agent or two signed by then as well.

Who the Padres might subtract: There are a number of candidates to be removed from the roster. Alex Dickerson, who is coming off back surgery, is one. Luis Torrens and Allen Cordoba, former Rule 5 Draft picks, are as well. It's a good bet that one or more of the Padres' utility infielders -- Jose Pirela, Carlos Asuaje or Cory Spangenberg -- will be removed from the 40-man in some way. After that, there are at least three fringe pitchers who could be subtracted.

What surprise pitcher will make the rotation next year?
-- Kevin, Escondido, Calif.

I wouldn't count on any Opening Day rotation surprises next year -- barring a major trade. But we could easily see something similar to 2018, when Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi arrived well ahead of schedule. No. 8 prospect Logan Allen fits a similar mold, and don't be surprised if he's pitching in San Diego early next season.

Discounting Allen's arrival, it's doubtful we see a surprise. Matt Strahm, who will look to transition to a starting role after an excellent season in the 'pen, doesn't qualify. I'd guess Lauer, Lucchesi and Strahm are the early favorites.

After that, it's probably a competition for two places from among Jacob Nix, Brett Kennedy, Robbie Erlin, Clayton Richard, Bryan Mitchell and any other starters the Padres might sign in free agency.

Which catcher is out?
-- @SonnyPhono

A.J. Ellis.

Look, I know this question was referring to Austin Hedges vs. Francisco Mejia. But at this point, I'd guess they will both be with San Diego come Spring Training. Good young catchers are very hard to find. The Padres feel as though they have two of them. They're not going to trade one unless they're blown away by an offer.

There's a way to find time for both -- especially if an outfielder is dealt and Mejia transitions to a corner-outfield spot, part-time. In that case, Hedges could play 110 games or so behind the plate, and Mejia could play the rest, while also getting time in left field as well.

So, yeah, as things stand, A.J. Ellis -- a pending free agent -- is probably the only catcher out.

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

San Diego Padres

Prospects fall to Rangers in On Deck Classic

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- On the night before the Padres begin their final series of the 2018 season, many of San Diego's highly touted prospects took the field Thursday at Petco Park against the Rangers' prospects in the 2018 Don Welke On Deck Classic.

San Diego holds 2018's highest-ranked farm system, according to MLB Pipeline, but the Rangers defeated the Padres, 5-3.

SAN DIEGO -- On the night before the Padres begin their final series of the 2018 season, many of San Diego's highly touted prospects took the field Thursday at Petco Park against the Rangers' prospects in the 2018 Don Welke On Deck Classic.

San Diego holds 2018's highest-ranked farm system, according to MLB Pipeline, but the Rangers defeated the Padres, 5-3.

San Diego jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Texas tied it in the bottom of the frame. The Padres took the lead with two runs in the second, but the offense fell flat against the young Rangers' arms. Texas was able to chip away at the lead, then Bubba Thompson delivered the big blow in the eighth inning -- a crushing two-run home run off Dauris Valdez to break a 3-3 tie.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

After Rangers pitchers A.J. Alexy and Jean Casanova allowed three runs in the first two innings, the rest of the pitching staff held the Padres scoreless. Emmanual Clase was the winning pitcher and Reid Anderson recorded two scoreless innings in relief.

Here's a look at notable performers for the Padres.

Reggie Lawson: The Padres' No. 21 overall prospect started and promptly struck out the side. Lawson, who was drafted in 2016 in the competitive balance round, notched four innings of two-run ball, allowing two hits, walking one and striking out seven. He also debuted a slider.

"I've been working it in through [instructional league]," he said. "It came in late in the season as something to get off the fastball just a little bit more. ... I wanted to throw it on the big stage and see what it did. That's how I build trust with it."

Lawson's velocity was up a few ticks as well, and he topped out at 97 mph. When asked what led to the increase he smiled and said, "Well, it's Petco."

Lawson, 21, went 8-5 with a 4.69 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP through 24 games (22 starts) with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore this season.

Tweet from @Padres: In honor of their grandfather Don Welke, it���s Cole, Addie, Ethan and Talia with our ceremonial first pitch for the Don Welke On Deck Classic tonight 👏 pic.twitter.com/MSQsysZqlQ

Esteury Ruiz: The Padres' No. 17 prospect crushed a two-run homer to center field in the second inning.

"[The homer] felt great," Ruiz said through interpreter Danny Sanchez. "It's a testament to the preparation I've put in. I try to stay prepared and put in the work in the offseason and during the season to be able to have results like this."

Ruiz was acquired from Kansas City in 2017 with Matt Strahm as part of the Trevor Cahill trade. The 19-year-old was named the Arizona Rookie League's Most Valuable Player in 2017 and posted a .253/.324/.403 slash line this season at Class A Fort Wayne. 

Tucupita Marcano: Marcano opened the scoring for the Padres when he ripped an RBI single to score Xavier Edwards in the first inning. Marcano was thrown out at second trying to extend for a double, but he still finished the night 2-for-3 with a bunt single and two walks.

Marcano, 19, signed with the Padres in 2016 out of Venezuela. He split the season between the Arizona Rookie League and Class A Short Season Tri-City, posting an OPS of .888 in 52 games.

Michel Baez: The Padres' No. 7 prospect notched three innings of relief, allowing one run on two hits. He walked one and struck out four.

Baez split the 2018 season between Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio. He went 4-10 in 21 starts with an ERA of 3.69. The 22-year-old from Havana, Cuba, signed with the Padres in December 2016.

Tweet from @Padres: Fun day of watching prospects at the #Padres Don Welke On Deck Classic! The Padres fell to the Rangers, 5-3, in the second game of the day. #PadresOnDeck pic.twitter.com/fSqWtVhTxq

Andres Munoz: Munoz pitched a perfect ninth inning on 10 pitches. Six of those were recorded at 100 mph or more.

Munoz is the club's No. 22 prospect and split time between Tri-City and San Antonio this season. He held opponents to a .139 batting average and posted a 0.73 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings.

Other notables:

• Edwards, the 38th overall pick in the 2018 Draft, went 1-for-4 with a double and a strikeout.

• No. 28 prospect Edward Olivares reached base safely in all four plate appearances, going 1-for-1 with three walks.

Josh Naylor went 1-for-2 with a single and a walk.

The Padres named the event in honor of Don Welke, the organization's former vice president of scouting. Welke passed away last week at the age of 75. Welke spent over 50 years in baseball, beginning his career with the Reds in 1965. Fittingly, he also spent time with the Rangers organization, and played an instrumental role in the team's World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011.

Katie Woo is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo.

San Diego Padres

Mejia being aggressive in first Padres stint

MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Padres traded for Francisco Mejia in July, they knew they'd landed an extremely unique bat.

It's been three weeks since Mejia -- MLB Pipeline's No. 1 catching prospect -- received his callup. He's lived up to that billing.

View Full Game Coverage

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Padres traded for Francisco Mejia in July, they knew they'd landed an extremely unique bat.

It's been three weeks since Mejia -- MLB Pipeline's No. 1 catching prospect -- received his callup. He's lived up to that billing.

View Full Game Coverage

Through 50 plate appearances, Mejia is hitting a mundane and unimpressive .217/.280/.457 with three homers, three walks and 15 strikeouts. But the at-bats he's taken to arrive there have been nothing short of extraordinary. Nearly all of his plate-discipline numbers are outliers. He's swinging at everything.

To be precise:

• Mejia is swinging at pitches outside the strike zone at a 51.9-percent clip. That's easily the highest mark in the Majors among players with at least 50 plate appearances.

• Likely stemming from that first number, Mejia has seen pitches in the strike zone only 36.5 percent of the time, the Majors' third-lowest mark.

• And yet, despite the swings he's taking at pitches that should be balls, Mejia is making contact on 76.3 percent of his swings (approximately MLB average). He is whiffing on 13.7 percent of pitches (above MLB average, but not by much).

There's a lot to unpack in these numbers. But it's pretty obvious why they exist.

Mejia has other-worldly bat speed, which allows him to hit pitches other hitters can't. That much became obvious in his first start, when he crushed two homers on upper-90s fastballs -- both of which painted corners.

Video: Must C Classic: Mejia hits 2 HRs in 1st Padres start

"Franky has the ability to put the barrel on the ball in unique spots," Padres manager Andy Green said. "Balls that have almost hit him, I've seen him barrel up -- hard."

Generally speaking, that's a good thing. It's what attracted the Padres to Mejia in the first place. It's why they gave up Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to acquire him. But...

"Damage is going to be a lot harder to do if he's swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone," Green said. "He could get some hits. But driving pitches hard, consistently, is going to be more difficult."

And therein lies the biggest question mark surrounding Mejia's bat: As he develops and grows more comfortable in the Majors, can he force pitchers into the strike zone?

"I know that when I'm in the strike zone, I get good pitches and I do damage," Mejia said through an interpreter. "I can make contact all the time. But it's not necessarily good contact. It's something weak, not something I can do damage on."

Video: Must C Clutch: Galvis ties it, Mejia's slam wins it

It's important to recognize Mejia's early numbers represent a small sample -- and the sample isn't random either. It's his first taste of regular at-bats in the Majors. It's fair to expect he'd be a bit over-aggressive.

Two years ago, another over-eager Padres hitter arrived on the scene with similar question marks. This year, Hunter Renfroe has been arguably their best offensive performer.

"He's similar to Hunter in that when he showed up to the big leagues, he could say he'd hit the pitch that was six inches above the zone," Green said. "Pitches a foot inside, he's hit out of the ballpark before. Down, underneath the zone, he's hit those out before.

"If I've hit those pitches out, why wouldn't I be swinging at them? It creates, in some ways, a positive reinforcement for chasing."

As time goes by, Mejia will almost certainly be forced to evolve. The bad pitches he managed to hit in the Minors might be unhittable in the Majors. Mejia will need to learn to lay off those pitches. That's no easy task -- just ask Renfroe -- but Mejia is keenly aware of its importance.

"Up here, there are reports," Mejia said. "People know what you do, how you swing. For me, I need to go into the offseason with the mindset to redo my approach."

Indeed, Mejia's first taste of regular playing time in the big leagues hasn't taught the Padres anything they didn't already know. It's how he adjusts to this stint that could be telling.

"We looked at him as a unique talent when we acquired him," Green said, "someone who was capable of doing things other people aren't capable of."

Worth noting
• The Padres have renamed their annual prospects game against the Rangers as the "Don Welke On Deck Classic." It's a tribute to Welke, the vice president of scouting operations who died last Thursday at 75. Welke spent 50 seasons in Major League Baseball, including stints with both the Rangers (2007-14) and Padres (2014-18). This year's "Classic" takes place on Thursday at Petco Park.

• Right-hander Luis Perdomo will start a bullpen game in Wednesday's series finale against the Giants. The Padres chose Perdomo as the starter over Matt Strahm and Miguel Diaz, who could both be used in relief. Perdomo is expected to pitch about three innings, Green said.

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

San Diego Padres, Francisco Mejia

Urias likely done for year with hamstring injury

Padres prospect sustains injury attempting to run out grounder
MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Luis Urias' first taste of the big leagues appears to have come to an abrupt and painful end.

The Padres' 21-year-old second-base prospect, ranked No. 4 in the club's system by MLB Pipeline, pulled his left hamstring during the eighth inning of a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night in Seattle. He sustained the injury while trying to leg out an infield grounder, and afterward manager Andy Green noted it's "doubtful" that Urias returns this season.

View Full Game Coverage

SEATTLE -- Luis Urias' first taste of the big leagues appears to have come to an abrupt and painful end.

The Padres' 21-year-old second-base prospect, ranked No. 4 in the club's system by MLB Pipeline, pulled his left hamstring during the eighth inning of a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night in Seattle. He sustained the injury while trying to leg out an infield grounder, and afterward manager Andy Green noted it's "doubtful" that Urias returns this season.

View Full Game Coverage

"I don't think it looks particularly good, given the amount of time we have left in the season," Green said. "We'll see how he responds to treatment. Hopefully it's nothing big, but he's doubtful at this point in time."

Urias, the top-ranked second-base prospect in baseball, earned his callup last month and went 10-for-48 with two homers in his debut season.

Despite the relatively slow start, the Padres came away with an extremely positive first impression of Urias -- if, indeed, his season is finished.

"There's a lot to like," Green said. "He's really defended the field. He's looked so good at second base, made a diving play almost every time he's had a chance to. They've been big plays. And he's turned double plays well.

"At the plate, I don't think he really found his rhythm or his stride, but you don't read too terribly much into that. He had some good swings at times. The numbers aren't going to be what he'd want them to be for his first short stint in the big leagues. But I don't think anybody's too concerned. He's got a long track record."

Video: SD@CIN: Urias lays out to rob Votto of a hit

Facing Mariners right-hander Alex Colome in the eighth, Urias bounced a chopper to first base. In his attempt to beat Colome to the bag, he lunged with his left leg one stride before reaching the base. That's when he came up hobbling.

Urias was escorted off the field with the help of Green and team trainer Mark Rogow. Cory Spangenberg entered at second base in his place.

Spangenberg and Jose Pirela are both options to take over for Urias at second over the next three weeks. Another possibility would see shortstop Freddy Galvis slide to second with the newly recalled Javy Guerra getting a look at short.

In any case, the Padres were pleased to have gotten a look at Urias, however brief it may have been.

"We valued his opportunity to come up and play in the big leagues, because, one: he had earned that opportunity, and two: he's a big part of what we plan on doing going forward," Green said.

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

San Diego Padres, Luis Urias

Guerra, one of 4 callups, to get look at SS

'He's elite defensively,' Green says of 22-year-old
MLB.com

SEATTLE -- The Padres recalled four players from Triple-A before Tuesday's game against the Mariners -- moves that mostly served to reinforce the bullpen now that El Paso's season has come to an end.

But shortstop Javy Guerra -- the lone position player to earn a callup -- is a particularly intriguing roster option entering the 2019 season.

View Full Game Coverage

SEATTLE -- The Padres recalled four players from Triple-A before Tuesday's game against the Mariners -- moves that mostly served to reinforce the bullpen now that El Paso's season has come to an end.

But shortstop Javy Guerra -- the lone position player to earn a callup -- is a particularly intriguing roster option entering the 2019 season.

View Full Game Coverage

Guerra was joined by right-handers Kazuhisa Makita and Colten Brewer and left-hander Brad Wieck in being promoted Tuesday. Over three seasons in the Padres' system, Guerra still hasn't quite pieced it together offensively.

He arrived in the Craig Kimbrel trade prior to the 2016 season as a very highly touted prospect. But Guerra has batted .217 at three different levels since then, and his Minor League strikeout rate has hovered around 33 percent.

Video: SD@ELP: Guerra plates Bousfield on a fielder's choice

Still, there's a noteworthy vacancy at shortstop in San Diego for the start of next season. Freddy Galvis is set to become a free agent and top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., ranked No. 2 in baseball by MLB Pipeline, is coming off thumb surgery and probably destined to start next year in the Minors.

The Padres have some decisions to make this offseason, and Guerra could factor prominently.

The first question that must be answered is whether to bring back Galvis -- a decision that could hinge on his contract demands and the rest of the league's interest. If the answer is no, the Padres would likely need a stopgap before Tatis' arrival. That's where Guerra could factor in.

In any case, Guerra's glove makes him a roster possibility regardless of how the Padres decide to play it this offseason.

"He's elite defensively at shortstop," said manager Andy Green. "... When you can defend that position, you tend to find some sort of role in the big leagues. For him, that's his primary asset, and his versatility -- we'll test that in time, too."

Guerra is going to get sporadic starts at shortstop -- meaning time on the bench for Galvis, who has started every game there this season. Luis Urias, MLB Pipeline's top-ranked second-base prospect, is likely to start at shortstop, too.

Galvis is the owner of the Majors' longest consecutive games played streak at 309, and Green noted that he'd do everything in his power to get Galvis into those games. But it's clear the Padres have one eye on their future at the position.

At the plate, Guerra hasn't been stupendous this year, but his .774 second-half OPS was a jump of 172 points from the first half. The Padres don't need Guerra to set the world on fire offensively to be a valuable contributor. They'd just like him to hold his own.

"For him, it's just a progression of trusting himself, not thinking too much in the batter's box and cutting loose on the pitches he can hit," Green said. "We'll just try to keep it from being overly complicated."

Guerra struck out in two pinch-hit at-bats in May during a brief callup.

Kennedy's season likely finished
An MRI on the left knee of rookie righty Brett Kennedy revealed "serious tendinitis," according to Green, and it appears as though Kennedy's season could be over prematurely.

"We're still trying to work through what the best course of action is for him, but I'd say starting again this year is probably somewhat in jeopardy for him," Green said.

In six starts since his mid-August callup, Kennedy posted a 6.75 ERA. He picked up his first career victory with six shutout frames against the Rockies on Aug. 31. But he struggled in his next start Friday night in Cincinnati. Kennedy allowed four runs in 1 2/3 frames and had trouble with his landing leg -- prompting the Padres to take a look at his ailing left knee.

Video: COL@SD: Kennedy tosses 6 scoreless innings vs. Rox

Worth noting
• When Wieck appears in a game, it'll mark the big league debut for the 26-year-old left-hander. He owns a 2.53 ERA in 46 1/3 innings between Double- and Triple-A this season, and he's found a groove lately, too. Wieck has pitched 11 innings since the start of August, and he's allowed just one run on six hits while striking out 22.

"It doesn't matter where I'm at or who I'm throwing against," Wieck said. "It's just about staying focused on what you're doing and your own gameplan and plan of attack."

Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia will split time behind the plate over the next three weeks, and the Padres view their trip to Seattle as a chance to get both bats in the lineup. Hedges made his second career start at designated hitter on Tuesday night.

"We're committed here to giving our DH at-bats to our catchers," Green said. "Those two guys right now are very intriguing bats. ... It's no secret we're splitting time back there behind the plate, so the opportunity to get those guys extra at-bats is good."

Video: Must C Classic: Mejia hits 2 HRs in 1st Padres start

• Green acknowledged that Tuesday's moves most likely represent the last of the Padres' September callups. The roster currently sits at 33 players.

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

San Diego Padres, Javy Guerra

Inbox: Who will be SD's primary catcher in '19?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell answers questions from San Diego fans
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Hedges vs. Mejia.

Since the Padres landed Francisco Mejia -- MLB Pipeline's top-ranked catching prospect -- at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, that's been the burning debate on the mind of nearly every Padres fan.

SAN DIEGO -- Hedges vs. Mejia.

Since the Padres landed Francisco Mejia -- MLB Pipeline's top-ranked catching prospect -- at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, that's been the burning debate on the mind of nearly every Padres fan.

In Mejia and Austin Hedges, San Diego boasts two of the game's best young catchers. And this week's Padres Inbox reflects your interest in the positional battle.

:: Submit a question to the Padres Inbox ::

Mejia is off to a red-hot start, and Hedges has made serious strides at the plate while remaining rock-solid defensively. It's hard to find quality catchers in the Major Leagues, but the Padres might now have two of them.

When will we get clarity on the Mejia/Hedges situation?
-- Ryan C.

Depends what you mean by clarity. In all likelihood, we'll have a good idea how the Padres plan to rotate the two early next season. This month, it's an even split. But I wouldn't read too much into the final three weeks -- especially given that Hedges started at catcher in 34 of 41 games during the second half before Mejia's callup.

Video: SD@CIN: Mejia crushes 3-run jack for his second homer

Next season should be more indicative of the long-term plan. I imagine we'll learn a few things during Spring Training -- namely, whether the Padres plan to use Mejia in the outfield to find a way to get both bats in the lineup. Then, the first month of the 2019 regular season should tell us who gets the bulk of the time behind the plate -- and whether the split's going to be somewhat even.

Of course, that's provided that neither is traded during the offseason.

How long can Mejia and Hedges reasonably coexist on the roster without one of them pushing the other out?
-- @PadresOnABagel

Probably longer than you'd think, even though both are young catchers with high ceilings, and there are only so many at-bats to go around. More than anything, it'll come down to the Padres' plans for Mejia. I get the sense he's going to be used as a corner outfielder, too.

Video: SD@CIN: Hedges cranks a 2-run homer to left in 3rd

Hedges is on record as saying he wants to play 130-140 games per season -- and that's probably what you'd want your catcher saying in this situation. But it probably won't happen next year. The likelier scenario might be 100-110 games for Hedges, with Mejia playing 50-60 behind the plate and another 50-60 in the outfield.

If that split can be managed, it might be best for everyone involved. Catching in the big leagues is a difficult job, and a little extra rest wouldn't hurt either of them.

What are the odds that Fernando Tatis Jr. starts next year on Opening Day?
-- Keith, San Diego

Slim, for a number of reasons -- the most notable being service time. If the Padres wait until mid-April to promote Tatis to the Majors, they'll have control of him through the 2025 season instead of through '24.

But Tatis' case isn't the same as some higher profile service-time debates like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez. San Diego has good reason to hold Tatis back. He's still never played a game above Double-A, and he's coming off an injury (broken left thumb) that forced him to miss the final two months of the season. There's an argument to be made that he'd benefit from a little more time in the Minors.

The Padres don't have a ready-made option to start at short next year. But it's likelier they use rookie Javy Guerra and/or sign a veteran stopgap.

When do Chris Paddack, Logan Allen, Tatis and Josh Naylor arrive?
-- Michael J., Escondido, Calif.

Short answer: 2019.

If I had to guess the order, I'd go with Allen, Tatis, Paddack, Naylor.

Don't be shocked if Allen makes some noise for a rotation spot out of camp. It's doubtful he's one of the Opening Day starting five, but he'll probably be one of the first options up from Triple-A.

Paddack might be eased in a bit more slowly. Naylor, meanwhile, plays first base and left field, and there simply isn't a big league opportunity readily available at those spots.

Video: SD@CIN: Renfroe makes a diving grab with bases loaded

The Padres' outfield defense is horrendous. Will we see change?
-- Michael J., Escondido, Calif.

The Padres' outfield defense ranks fourth in the Majors in defensive runs saved. It boasts two borderline elite defenders in Travis Jankowski and Manuel Margot. Hunter Renfroe has made serious strides as a left fielder (and he has an absolute cannon for an arm). Franmil Reyes has a long way to go, but Franchy Cordero will return next season with all the tools to be very good defensively.

It is assuredly not "horrendous." It's actually been quite good.

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

San Diego Padres, Austin Hedges, Francisco Mejia

Mejia hits 1st 2 MLB HRs in 1st SD start for win

Renfroe hits 20th clout, while Lauer strikes out eight Reds
MLB.com

Long before Francisco Mejia was traded, the Padres' front office had already zeroed in on the 22-year-old backstop. They loved his bat, and they felt he could star behind the plate, too. But the game's top catching prospect wouldn't come cheap.

In late July, they struck a deal, with relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber going to Cleveland. San Diego had its man. And one start into Mejia's Padres tenure, it's easy to see why the club was so enamored with him in the first place.

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Long before Francisco Mejia was traded, the Padres' front office had already zeroed in on the 22-year-old backstop. They loved his bat, and they felt he could star behind the plate, too. But the game's top catching prospect wouldn't come cheap.

In late July, they struck a deal, with relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber going to Cleveland. San Diego had its man. And one start into Mejia's Padres tenure, it's easy to see why the club was so enamored with him in the first place.

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Mejia homered in his each of his first two plate appearances on Thursday in a 6-2 San Diego victory in Cincinnati. He became the first Padres hitter in franchise history to go deep in the first two at-bats of his first start with San Diego.

"It was emotional," said Mejia, who was promoted Tuesday and struck out in a pinch-hit at-bat that night in Arizona. "Every time I go to the plate, I'm just looking for a good pitch that I can drive."

He got two of them on Thursday night.

Mejia smashed a 96-mph fastball over the left-center-field wall in the third, giving San Diego an early lead. Then he showed off his elite bat speed, golfing a three-run homer to right field in the fourth. It put the Padres on top, 5-0, after Hunter Renfroe had gone deep earlier in the frame.

Video: SD@CIN: Renfroe belts his 20th homer of 2018

"Obviously, [it was] impressive," Padres manager Andy Green said of Mejia. "Good swings, loud contact both ways. They tried to get two fastballs by him."

Not since Yasmani Grandal -- another switch-hitting catcher -- had a Padres rookie hit the first two homers of his career in his first start with the team. Grandal did so on June 30, 2012, against Colorado.

Mejia recorded 18 plate appearances with the Indians before he was dealt, but he hadn't homered. He became the first player since Cody Bellinger in April 2017 to launch the first two home runs of his career in consecutive at-bats.

Not to be lost in the shuffle, Mejia caught an excellent game behind the plate, as well. He'd only worked with rookie left-hander Eric Lauer once (on Lauer's rehab assignment with Triple-A El Paso on Aug. 24). But Lauer pitched four scoreless frames.

Video: SD@CIN: Lauer rings up Schebler for 8th strikeout

With eight strikeouts and three walks, Lauer ran his pitch count a bit high and was removed after 86 pitches. Robert Stock, Jose Castillo, Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates all worked scoreless relief innings, though Trey Wingenter surrendered two solo home runs in the seventh.

"Across the board, great game," Green said of Mejia. "He's still developing as a catcher. He's got really good hands."

Video: SD@CIN: Green discusses Mejia's 1st career HR in win

TIMESHARE BEHIND THE DISH
The Padres haven't been shy about addressing their conundrum behind the plate. They already have Austin Hedges, who's 26 and widely regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in the game.

San Diego contends there's room for both, and for the remainder of the season, Mejia and Hedges will split time relatively evenly. Green even hinted that Hedges might start the second game of the series on Friday night.

"I feel good about it," Mejia said. "I've heard only positive stuff, that we're going to be in a rotation, and they've explained all of that to me."

Mejia could see some time in the outfield, as well, though that's unlikely to happen this season. For now, it's the proverbial "good problem to have" -- especially on nights like Thursday.

• Ellis on mentoring young catchers: 'I'm excited'

Video: SD@CIN: Mejia belts 1st career homer to left-center

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Travis Jankowski swiped his 22nd bag of the season in the fifth inning with a steal that survived a lengthy replay review. Jankowski ran on Reds starter Luis Castillo's 1-0 swinging strike to Luis Urias. Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart's throw to second was slightly high -- second baseman Dilson Herrera had to reach up to grab it, and couldn't get his hand down for the tag quick enough as Jankowski slid safely. The Reds challenged, and the call stood after review.

Video: SD@CIN: Jankowski steals second, call stands in 5th

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Renfroe's robbery: The Reds threatened to work their way back into the game against Lauer in the fourth, but Renfroe had other ideas. Lauer loaded the bases with no outs, but he whiffed Phillip Ervin and Scott Schebler, bringing Herrera to the plate.

Herrera smashed a liner to left field, but Renfroe broke quickly toward the corner. As the baseball arrived, he made an sprawling dive and a snow-cone catch in an all-or-nothing situation.

"The play of the game for me," Green said. "That's three runs right there in the fourth inning. He's settled in really nicely in left field."

Video: SD@CIN: Renfroe makes a diving grab with bases loaded

SOUND SMART
Mejia's homers came against fastballs from Castillo that were clocked at 96.3 and 97.4 mph, respectively. Mejia became only the third player in the Majors this season to hit multiple home runs in a game off pitches thrown 96 mph or harder. (The Rockies' Ian Desmond and Yankees' Brett Gardner were the others to do so.) Mejia's second home run marked the fastest pitch that a Padres hitter has homered against this season.

Video: SD@CIN: Mejia crushes 3-run jack for his second homer

UP NEXT
Brett Kennedy is coming off his best start in the Majors, during which he blanked the Rockies over six innings last week. The rookie right-hander is competing for a long-term spot in the Padres' rotation, and he still has plenty to prove after posting a 5.76 ERA in his first five big league starts. Kennedy starts on Friday at 3:40 p.m. PT against Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani.

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

San Diego Padres, Francisco Mejia

Padres promote top catching prospect Mejia

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres have taken to using metaphors when they refer to the prospects in their loaded, top-ranked farm system.

"Hot talent lava."

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SAN DIEGO -- The Padres have taken to using metaphors when they refer to the prospects in their loaded, top-ranked farm system.

"Hot talent lava."

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"Waves of talent."

Whatever the geologic trope, the point is this: There's a lot of young talent in the organization. And it's going to arrive en masse over the next few seasons.

Francisco Mejia -- the top-ranked catching prospect according to MLB Pipeline and No. 21 overall -- is the latest to join the fray.

Mejia, 22, was promoted from Triple-A El Paso ahead of Tuesday's game in Arizona. He made his Padres debut when he pinch-hit and struck out during the sixth inning of a 6-0 loss to the D-backs. He is expected to receive his first start on Thursday in Cincinnati after an off-day Wednesday.

Mejia came to the Padres in July in the deal that sent relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to Cleveland. He's been on fire since, batting .328/.364/.582 with seven homers in 31 games for Triple-A El Paso (whose regular season ended Monday).

That's merely a continuation of the rest of Mejia's Minor League career. His claim to fame is a 50-game hitting streak during the 2016 season. He batted .293 in six Minor League seasons.

"He's hit everywhere he's been his entire life," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He's got unique bat-to-ball skills and an ability to put all sorts of pitches in play."

In 18 big league plate appearances for Cleveland over two seasons, Mejia tallied two hits and three walks. He's yet to hit his first home run.

Video: Top Prospects: Francisco Mejia, C, Padres

Of course, the Padres already have an effective catcher in Austin Hedges, who has posted a .714 OPS this season while serving as one of the best behind the plate. The Padres have played Hedges on a near-everyday basis over the past month, knowing that Mejia would be arriving to ease the workload in September.

"There's room for two back there to be a great baseball team," Green said. "You're probably looking at split time through the month of September."

That's the short-term view. Hedges was the game's top catching prospect not long ago, and he just turned 26. It's worth wondering whether there's actually room for both next season and beyond, as the Padres look to open their window for contention in the National League West.

But there's a ready-made solution if San Diego wants to keep both. Mejia spent time at third base and in the outfield in the Indians' organization. The Padres felt as though the push toward versatility stunted Mejia's growth as a catcher. They shifted him behind the plate full-time upon his arrival in El Paso.

"His catching became second fiddle to his ability to play left field," Green said. "We're not looking to do that with him at this point in time. That doesn't mean that in the future we won't ask him to bounce around the field. That might happen."

"It would always depend on the situation," Mejia said. "But I got a lot of reps in the outfield. … Given the situation, if that's what they needed, then I know I could do it."

Mejia's versatility could allow the Padres to use both him and Hedges in the same lineup on certain days. On others, Mejia's presence should ease the burden on Hedges, at the sport's most demanding position.

Hedges has made it clear he doesn't feel burdened by the workload, and he'd prefer to rank among the MLB leaders in games caught. But he's also open to splitting time with Mejia.

"I believe in this team, and I want this team to win," Hedges said. "Whatever that takes, I'm going to support anything that happens. Given that, I want to play every day. I want to play 130, 140 games, and I'll make that very clear.

"Whether that means he's catching the other ones and playing another position, or if our best way of winning is something else, then I'll be for that, too. But I believe in my abilities in myself being an everyday catcher."

As for the rest of the system, the Padres have nine players ranked in MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects -- the most in baseball. Second baseman Luis Urias (No. 22) was promoted last week.

Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (No. 2) is out for the year with a broken bone in his left thumb, but he'll probably arrive sometime early next year. Starters Chris Paddack (No. 48) and Logan Allen (No. 85) are expected next season as well.

Behind them, lefty MacKenzie Gore (No. 11), lefty Adrian Morejon (No. 49), righty Michel Baez (No. 60) and lefty Ryan Weathers (No. 99) are on the horizon, with a handful of others in a system that's widely believed to be as deep as it is top-heavy.

The waves (or lava) aren't going to stop anytime soon.

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

San Diego Padres, Francisco Mejia

Urias hits 1st MLB homer, for real this time

Top infield prospect ignites five-run eighth vs. Rockies
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- For the second time in three days, Luis Urias smashed a rocket into the seats down the right-field line at Petco Park, before circling the bases and celebrating with his teammates in the home dugout.

This time it counted.

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SAN DIEGO -- For the second time in three days, Luis Urias smashed a rocket into the seats down the right-field line at Petco Park, before circling the bases and celebrating with his teammates in the home dugout.

This time it counted.

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Urias fell victim to a replay review that overturned what would've been his first career home run on Wednesday against the Mariners. There was never a doubt on Friday night.

Video: SEA@SD: Urias has 1st potential MLB homer overturned

"I knew this one was going to be fair when I hit it," Urias said with a grin, following the Padres' 7-0 victory over the Rockies.

With a man on first in the eighth, the 21-year-old second baseman swatted an 0-2 fastball from Rockies lefty Jake McGee into the "Petco Porch" area in right field. It gave San Diego a 4-0 lead.

"I don't know if that missile down the right-field line is going to be a normal occurrence for him," Padres skipper Andy Green said. "That's a unique stroke. It's a pretty impressive stroke. If he's got that repetitively, then it looks like Petco Park was built in advance for him, because that's a nice little place to dump home runs in, if you can do that."

Ranked as the No. 22 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, Urias' Padres tenure is off to a fast start. He's reached base in seven of his 18 plate appearances. And, as evidenced by his opposite-field dinger, he's used the entire field to do so.

"I'm only trying to make hard contact and put it in play," Urias said. "I know I can use the whole field."

As if a fitting cap to the night, the fan who caught Urias' homer was decked out in a brown Urias jersey -- on a night the Padres were wearing their brown uniforms. After the game, the fan met Urias on the field to hand-deliver the baseball.

Tweet from @Padres: Meant to be. Nice snag of @LuisUrias03' first big league HR, @vinnysouza207! #PadresWin pic.twitter.com/c0JYuxN51I

Urias has never been one to hit many home runs. He has 17 in five Minor League seasons. His line-drive stroke and on-base potential have always served as his offensive calling cards.

That doesn't mean he can't add a few dingers to his game. There's a history of smaller players growing into power at the big league level (with Jose Altuve as the readiest example). Urias' nine homers this year are the most he's ever hit.

"I'm going to always be working, trying to be better," Urias said. "Obviously that's one part of my game I can improve on myself, and I think I can get better at that."

Added Green: "Home runs -- that's icing on the cake of what we know we're going to get from him. If he goes out and gets a walk and a knock a day, he's going to be a really productive baseball player with the way he defends the field."

Wil Myers followed with a homer of his own, before Eric Hosmer and Hunter Renfroe doubled and scored as well. It was, perhaps, a preview of things to come -- Urias sparking a big inning, and the Padres' big boppers cashing in.

"He's a guy that's going to play a great role here, and he's going to be a very good big leaguer for a long time," Myers said. "He can really do very well at the top of an order when it comes to table-setting. Those are the guys that winning teams have at the top of their orders."

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

San Diego Padres, Luis Urias

Reed headlines Padres in Arizona Fall League

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Padres prospects Hudson Potts and Buddy Reed excelled at Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore this season -- so much so, they were promoted to Double-A San Antonio, where they've largely struggled since.

The challenge of facing top-tier competition remains in front of both. Along with right-hander Hansel Rodriguez and catcher Austin Allen, Reed and Potts were the Padres' prospects selected to play for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League, which begins in October.

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SAN DIEGO -- Padres prospects Hudson Potts and Buddy Reed excelled at Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore this season -- so much so, they were promoted to Double-A San Antonio, where they've largely struggled since.

The challenge of facing top-tier competition remains in front of both. Along with right-hander Hansel Rodriguez and catcher Austin Allen, Reed and Potts were the Padres' prospects selected to play for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League, which begins in October.

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Notably absent was No. 1 prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., who is recovering from a broken bone in his left thumb. Tatis will be out for the remainder of the Minor League season, but the Fall League seemed a possibility to make up for missed reps. Now, it appears likelier Tatis will suit up in the Dominican Winter League instead.

Complete Arizona Fall League rosters

Each organization sends a handful of its top youngsters to the six-team Fall League. Each of those six teams combines prospects from five different big league clubs to make up a roster. The Padres must still add a couple of pitchers to the Javelinas roster, and those decisions will be made over the next week or two.

Potts and Reed starred at Lake Elsinore. Potts -- the No. 23 prospect in a loaded Padres system, according to MLB Pipeline -- has made strides defensively at third base and posted an .847 OPS there. That mark has dropped to .583 at San Antonio. Reed (No. 13), meanwhile, has seen a drop from a .921 OPS to .404 -- though he remains the same defensive and stolen-base threat, having swiped 50 bags this year between the two levels, while playing spectacular center field.

"Huddy and Buddy, great first half, two-thirds of the season in the Cal League," said Padres farm director Sam Geaney. "They saw the first taste of Double-A. A little bit of it's been a challenge and a struggle. Now, to them, it's about continuing to see some of that competition in the Fall League."

Allen, meanwhile, has torn up Double-A offensively. He's hitting .289/.352/.508.

"Austin's had a great year in Double-A," Geaney said. "He's shown a lot of power. The defense has continued to improve. The challenge for him is to continue to push forward with that defense in the Fall League."

Complete Arizona Fall League coverage

Rodriguez has only made seven appearances (all in relief) this season at the lower levels of the San Diego system. He was limited by injuries for the first few months, and the Fall League affords him a chance to make up for missed time.

Urias bats second ... again

Padres second baseman Luis Urias spent the bulk of his Minor League career batting second. It's no coincidence he's been penciled into the No. 2 spot in each of his first three big league games.

"As comfortable as you can make the transition from the Minor Leagues to the Major Leagues ... and as bad as we needed on-base skills, which he has, it's really easy to write his name into that two-slot," manager Andy Green said.

Of course, Urias' presence near the top of the order isn't merely about comfort. If all goes according to plan, Urias -- the No. 22-ranked prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, and the top second baseman -- could be batting second in San Diego for a long time.

He doesn't possess much power, but he's posted a .397 on-base percentage in parts of his five Minor League seasons. In his eyes, that's his job, and he'll leave the power to the power hitters.

"Get on base, be patient," Urias said of his mindset as a No. 2 hitter. "If it's not my pitch, don't get out easily. I've got to try to make the pitcher work. I don't want to give away any ABs."

Noteworthy

• The Padres expect to activate right-hander Bryan Mitchell from the disabled list Saturday when rosters expand. Mitchell has missed nearly three months with a right-elbow impingement.

It's unclear what role Mitchell will fill, but he could start as soon as Monday when the Padres face the D-backs in Arizona. Left-hander Joey Lucchesi threw a career-high 108 pitches on Wednesday, and the Padres will consider giving Lucchesi an extra day off by pushing his start back.

• Green noted that none of the four Padres rookie starters -- Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Brett Kennedy or Jacob Nix -- will be limited innings-wise through the remainder of the season. None are slated to eclipse their past innings totals by too significant a margin.

Plus, when Mitchell returns, it's likely the Padres go to a six-man rotation. But it's unclear whether that plan will last through September, as the Padres have five off-days next month.

• Lauer was activated from the disabled list Thursday, after missing a month with a left forearm strain. To clear room for his return, the Padres optioned righty reliever Colten Brewer to Triple-A El Paso.

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

San Diego Padres

Padres promote No. 4 prospect Urias

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- All season long, prospects from the Padres' top-ranked farm system have arrived in San Diego. The biggest name yet arrives Tuesday night.

Luis Urias, San Diego's presumed second baseman of the future, has been promoted from Triple-A El Paso before Tuesday's game against the Mariners.

SAN DIEGO -- All season long, prospects from the Padres' top-ranked farm system have arrived in San Diego. The biggest name yet arrives Tuesday night.

Luis Urias, San Diego's presumed second baseman of the future, has been promoted from Triple-A El Paso before Tuesday's game against the Mariners.

Urias, 21, is ranked No. 22 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list and No. 4 in the Padres' system. He's hitting .296/.398/.447 this season with eight home runs in 120 games this season for El Paso.

The club placed left-hander Clayton Richard (left knee inflammation) on 10-day disabled list.

After signing out of Mexico in December 2013 at 16 years old, Urias has moved quickly through the San Diego farm system. The Padres haven't announced their specific plans for Urias over the season's final month, but he's expected to see regular playing time.

Though Urias is capable of playing shortstop, most of that playing time will come at second base -- where the combination of Jose Pirela, Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje (who was demoted to Triple-A) has struggled this season. The Padres' -0.9 combined fWAR at second is the worst mark in the Majors.

Urias' most important skill might be his ability to reach base. In five Minor League seasons, he's compiled a .397 on-base percentage, which could prove crucial on a Padres team that's finished last in the Majors in OBP in each of the past four seasons. (They currently sit 29th at .298.)

Urias triples for third hit

Urias' hit tool is recognized as one of the best in the Minor Leagues, though he doesn't boast much power. His defense is also well above average.

Urias is the latest, and by far the most noteworthy, callup in a season full of them for San Diego. Four rookies -- Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Brett Kennedy and Jacob Nix -- could all make starts this week (should Lauer return from his forearm strain as expected). Outfielder Franmil Reyes and relievers Robert Stock, Trey Wingenter and Jose Castillo have also debuted.

Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego's top prospect, is out for the season with a broken bone in his left thumb. The Padres envision Tatis and Urias as their double-play duo of the future, but they won't take the field together until 2019 at the earliest.

Still, it's likely the Padres promote catcher Francisco Mejia at some point in September. Mejia, acquired from Cleveland on July 20 for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, is baseball's No. 21 ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He entered Monday hitting .300/.343/.480 in 26 games since joining El Paso.

For now, it's Urias' time. Presuming he's in the starting lineup Tuesday, he'll face six-time All-Star and former American League Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez. Welcome to the show.

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

San Diego Padres

What to expect from Urias with Padres

MLB.com

One of the best pure hitters in the Minors is set to make his big league debut as the Padres are planning to promote second baseman Luis Urias, MLB Pipeline's No. 22 overall prospect, ahead of Tuesday night's game against the Mariners.

Urias, 21, gets the call amidst a 15-game hitting streak with Triple-A El Paso during which he recorded eight multihit performances while batting .474/.530/.702. The Padres' No. 4 prospect has been red hot in August, posting a .420 average with 37 hits (15 extra-base hits) in 24 games.

One of the best pure hitters in the Minors is set to make his big league debut as the Padres are planning to promote second baseman Luis Urias, MLB Pipeline's No. 22 overall prospect, ahead of Tuesday night's game against the Mariners.

Urias, 21, gets the call amidst a 15-game hitting streak with Triple-A El Paso during which he recorded eight multihit performances while batting .474/.530/.702. The Padres' No. 4 prospect has been red hot in August, posting a .420 average with 37 hits (15 extra-base hits) in 24 games.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

On the season, Urias batted .296/.398/.447 with 45 extra-base hits and 83 runs scored over 120 games in the Pacific Coast League.

Long viewed as San Diego's second baseman of the future, Urias now joins a Padres club that ranks among the worst in the National League at the position in slugging (.320, 15th), OPS (.621, 15th), average (.231, 13th) and on-base percentage (.302, 13th).

The Padres signed Urias at age 16 out of the Mexican League in December 2013 and then watched him excel that summer in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He built upon that progress the following year, as Urias needed just 10 games in the Class A Short-Season Northwest League to prove he was ready for a promotion to full-season Class A Fort Wayne.

San Diego continued to push Urias in 2016, this time with an assignment to the Class A Advanced California League, where, at 18, he was the circuit's youngest everyday player on Opening Day. Urias responded to the challenge by winning the batting title (.333) as well as the California League Most Valuable Player Award.

Spending all of 2017 at Double-A San Antonio, Urias garnered All-Star honors in the Texas League, hitting .296 with a circuit-best .398 on-base percentage, and then boosted his stock even more with an impressive Arizona Fall League campaign, setting the stage for a move up to Triple-A in '18.

The owner of a 70-grade hit tool -- on the 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is considered Major League average -- Urias is a gifted right-handed hitter who possesses preternatural feel for barreling the ball, with an approach that belies his years.

Urias' impressive hitting ability stems from his elite bat-to-ball skills, as he consistently produces hard line-drive contact from line to line using a compact but impactful swing. A career .306 hitter over 467 games and five seasons in the Minors, he projects to hit for similarly high averages in the big leagues, with some evaluators even pegging him as a potential batting champion in his prime.

Urias' plate discipline, meanwhile, also is among the best in the Minor Leagues -- a notion supported by his .397 career on-base percentage. Thanks to an advanced knowledge the strike zone and excellent pitch recognition, Urias accrued more walks than strikeouts in each of his first four seasons. This year with El Paso, he compiled more strikeouts (109) than walks (67) for the first time in his career.

The uptick in Urias' strikeout rate -- from 12.9 percent in Double-A to 20.5 percent this season -- can be attributed to the 21-year-old's attempt to hit for more power by incorporating a more pronounced front-leg lift into his swing. While the adjustment led to more swing-and-miss, Urias did tap into his sneaky raw power more consistently en route to career highs in home runs (eight), triples (seven) and doubles (30) while maintaining his walk rate from the previous year.

At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, Urias isn't an obvious candidate to hit for more power in the big leagues than he did as a prospect. However, more and more players with comparable skill sets have done just that in recent years, especially those that reached the Majors at a young age. As a result, there is a growing contingent of scouts who believe Urias, with his plus bat speed, bat-to-ball skills and feel for the strike zone, could surpass his modest power projections at the highest level.

On the other side of the ball, Urias offers plus defense at second base and has shown the ability to play a quality shortstop or third base as well. At the keystone, Urias exhibits above-average range thanks to his excellent instincts and quick first step. His soft hands and above-average arm strength, meanwhile, play anywhere on the infield.

It's unclear how much action Urias will receive down the stretch, as the Padres will need to balance his playing time with that of Cory Spangenberg, Jose Pirela and Carlos Asuaje.

Deploying him across several infield positions could address that issue, however with Wil Myers now manning the hot corner and top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. poised to take over at shortstop in 2019, Urias seemingly stands to gain the most by playing second base as often as possible in his first taste of the Majors.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

San Diego Padres

Kennedy still searching for first MLB win