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Padres Pipeline

Padres hope Galvis solidifies SS spot in '18

No. 4 prospect Tatis could make impact at position by '19
MLB.com

With Spring Training on the horizon, MLB.com is taking an in-depth look at the 2018 Padres, breaking the team down position-by-position. Today, we preview the shortstops.

Around the Horn series: Catcher | First base | Second base

With Spring Training on the horizon, MLB.com is taking an in-depth look at the 2018 Padres, breaking the team down position-by-position. Today, we preview the shortstops.

Around the Horn series: Catcher | First base | Second base

SAN DIEGO -- Freddy Galvis arrived last month via trade with Philadelphia, and he's entering his final season under contract. On the surface, the former Phillie is yet another stopgap shortstop for the Padres.

Dig a little deeper, however, and there are plenty of reasons to believe the Friars' seemingly annual shortstop search has produced different results this time.

First, the 28-year-old Galvis remains in his prime. In each of the past three offseasons, Padres general manager A.J. Preller inked an aging one-year option to a free-agent deal. Those signings -- Clint Barmes in 2015, Alexei Ramirez in '16 and Erick Aybar in '17 -- all underwhelmed.

Meanwhile, Galvis arrives as a standout defender, sure to be a boon to the Majors' most ground-ball-happy rotation. A year ago, Luis Perdomo and Clayton Richard ranked 1 and 2 in the National League in ground-ball rate. But both were hindered by poor infield play.

Offensively, Galvis' .309 on-base percentage in 2017 was the best mark of his career. He's a lifetime .245 hitter, but the Padres feel he has room to grow. As a defense-first shortstop, Galvis' offensive contributions will be mostly viewed as a bonus.

Video: Preller on acquiring Freddy Galvis from Phillies

"He's a guy that we view as a very good defensive player, a leader on the field, which is what you want from the shortstop position," Preller said following last month's trade. "He's got tremendous hands, a great release. From an offensive standpoint ... there's tremendous growth in there."

Of course, there's another reason this offseason feels different in the Padres' decade-long quest to find their shortstop of the future. Fernando Tatis Jr., ranked the club's No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, burst onto the scene in 2017. He earned a promotion to Double-A in his age 18 season after setting the franchise home-run record at Class A Fort Wayne.

Tatis is widely regarded as one of the best shortstop prospects in the game. Thus, when the Padres acquired a one-year shortstop solution in Galvis, they did so with an eye on the future. Tatis could make an impact as soon as 2019.

Video: Top Prospects: Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres

That doesn't necessarily mean Galvis will be gone by then. The Padres appear very interested in keeping him on board long-term, though they'd likely ask him to fill something closer to a utility role.

"We have a chance to get around Freddy, watch him play, see him, evaluate [him]," Preller said. "I don't think it necessarily has to be only a one-year fit. But when other guys push to make the big league club, you're not locked into a three- or four-year commitment."

Behind Galvis, there's no obvious answer for the backup job. Journeyman Dusty Coleman received a big league invite to Spring Training. He's probably the favorite on paper, with youngsters Luis Urias and Allen Cordoba likely destined for a bit more seasoning in the Minors.

Video: AJ Cassavell on the future of the Padres' infield

Projected starter: Galvis

Potential backups: Coleman, Cordoba, Urias

Top-30 prospects: No. 3 Urias, No. 4 Tatis, No. 15 Gabriel Arias, No. 18 Luis Almanzar, No. 25 Jordy Barley.

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

 

San Diego Padres, Dusty Coleman, Allen Cordoba, Freddy Galvis, Fernando Tatis Jr., Julio Urias

Nos. 1, 6 lefty prospects reside in Friars' system

Gore, Morejon earn high rankings in MLB Pipeline's updated list of southpaws
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Looking for baseball's elite left-handers of the future? Look no further than the San Diego farm system.

MLB Pipeline unveiled its updated list of the game's best lefty pitching prospects on Tuesday night, and a pair of 18-year-old Padres farmhands rank among the top six. MacKenzie Gore, the club's first-round pick in last June's Draft, is rated as the game's best young southpaw, while Adrian Morejon checks in at No. 6.

SAN DIEGO -- Looking for baseball's elite left-handers of the future? Look no further than the San Diego farm system.

MLB Pipeline unveiled its updated list of the game's best lefty pitching prospects on Tuesday night, and a pair of 18-year-old Padres farmhands rank among the top six. MacKenzie Gore, the club's first-round pick in last June's Draft, is rated as the game's best young southpaw, while Adrian Morejon checks in at No. 6.

Gore, selected No. 3 overall last summer, was one of the most highly touted high school arms coming out of the Draft. In his senior season at Whiteville High School in North Carolina, he posted an absurd 0.19 ERA and 158 strikeouts to just five walks.

He's since erased any doubt whether his dominance would translate to the professional level. In rookie ball, Gore posted a 1.27 ERA with a 0.97 WHIP.

Meanwhile, Morejon spent 2017 between two Padres Class A affiliates in Tri-City and Fort Wayne. As one of the youngest hurlers in both leagues, Morejon posted a 3.86 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP.

Video: Top Prospects: Adrian Morejon, LHP, Padres

Perhaps more than anything, the combo of Gore and Morejon represents the Padres' recent success in the two avenues for acquiring amateur talent.

No team has had more early Draft picks than the Padres over the past two seasons. They put those selections to good use, acquiring righty Cal Quantrill and lefties Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi -- all of whom rank among the organization's top 10 prospects. Gore is the crown jewel of the bunch.

Morejon, meanwhile, was part of the club's unprecedented 2016-17 international signing class, in which Padres ownership committed north of $80 million, including taxes. (It's a commitment that likely won't ever be duplicated, given the new restrictions on international spending in the collective bargaining agreement.)

Morejon signed with the Padres in July 2016 for $11 million (while costing the organization another $11 million in penalties.) That investment could pay big dividends down the road. Morejon is ranked behind Oakland's A.J. Puk, the Yankees' Justus Sheffield, Atlanta's Luiz Gohara and Tampa Bay's Brendan McKay, who round out the top five lefty prospects. (McKay was drafted one pick behind Gore last June.)

MLB Pipeline will continue unveiling its top prospects by position over the next couple of weeks. With one of the Majors' deepest farm systems, it's a safe bet a few more Padres will rank among those lists.

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

 

San Diego Padres

In stockpiling arms, Padres set plan in motion

San Diego has enough depth to give chances to unproven pitchers
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Several times this offseason, Padres general manager A.J. Preller has reiterated that there's no limit when it comes to the number of starting pitchers he'd like to add.

As it stands, the Padres have about 10 pitchers who figure to compete for a rotation spot in camp. That number reached double figures with recent news that Tyson Ross and Chris Young would be returning to the club on Minor League deals.

SAN DIEGO -- Several times this offseason, Padres general manager A.J. Preller has reiterated that there's no limit when it comes to the number of starting pitchers he'd like to add.

As it stands, the Padres have about 10 pitchers who figure to compete for a rotation spot in camp. That number reached double figures with recent news that Tyson Ross and Chris Young would be returning to the club on Minor League deals.

Hot Stove Tracker

That doesn't mean, however, that Preller has been adding for the sake of adding. The price wasn't right for a reunion with right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, so Preller passed. The free-agent market was thin, so he acquired Bryan Mitchell from the Yankees, taking on Chase Headley's contract in the process.

Video: Padres acquire Headley and Mitchell from Yankees

"Our focus as a group has still been, where we are as a team, giving opportunities to our own guys internally, giving opportunities to [Luis] Perdomo, [Dinelson] Lamet, Bryan Mitchell and then challenging our scouts to supplement that with some guys that we feel are undervalued," Preller said. "I never want to rule anything out, but I think that's more where our focus is."

There's another reason behind the Padres' hesitancy to commit big bucks to a starting pitcher on a multiyear deal. Their farm system could soon produce Major League level results on the mound.

Four of the club's top prospects as ranked by MLB Pipeline pitched for Double-A San Antonio last season -- No. 2 Cal Quantrill, No. 8 Eric Lauer, No. 9 Joey Lucchesi and No. 14 Jacob Nix. It's possible all four receive invites to Major League Spring Training (though none are likely to make the Opening Day roster).

It would mark the first chance for those four prospects to showcase their talents against big league hitters. Success this spring could precipitate a midseason callup for any of the four.

And their pending arrival is a big part of the reason the Padres are hesitant to commit beyond 2018 with this offseason's crop of free-agent starters. Clayton Richard is already under contract through 2019. Perdomo, Lamet and Mitchell all have at least four years of team control remaining. Colin Rea, Robbie Erlin and Matt Strahm -- all coming back from injury -- are locked down as well.

Sure, many of their starting-pitching options are unproven, but the Padres appear open to giving those unproven starters a chance. That could ring especially true this summer when a rotation slot becomes available for, say, Quantrill or Lucchesi.

That possibility has also rekindled talks within the organization about the merits of a six-man rotation. For the most part, the Padres have used a six-man schedule at the Minor League levels. With a handful of highly touted prospects set to arrive, they might find it prudent to keep those arms well-rested when they arrive in San Diego. There's no reason to believe it's likely in 2018, but the club is at least discussing the possibility internally.

"If there's not a disparity between your No. 1 and [No.] 6 at the level there is with most teams, there's reason to do it because the rest is probably really good for those guys," said Padres manager Andy Green. "... As time unfolds, I think we'll explore that possibility."

In any case, the Padres learned the hard way about the lack of organizational pitching depth in 2017. Before the season begins, they're open to adding -- but only if the commitment doesn't hinder their plans for the future.

"From a starting-pitching standpoint, there's probably never enough," Preller said. "... We're going to look to add to that, definitely. My guess is we come out with a few more options, whether it ends up being 10 legit starting-pitching options, I don't know. But you need a lot going into camp."

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

 

San Diego Padres

In '18, SD will rely on youth to take next step

Padres need Myers to rebound, young hurlers to emerge
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- With the youngest roster in the Majors, the Padres made plenty of progress in 2017. Still, coming off a 91-loss season, they're nowhere near where they want to be.

The majority of that roster will be back in 2018, and it's critical to the trajectory of the franchise that those young players continue to develop. With that in mind, here are the five most important questions facing the Padres in the new year:

SAN DIEGO -- With the youngest roster in the Majors, the Padres made plenty of progress in 2017. Still, coming off a 91-loss season, they're nowhere near where they want to be.

The majority of that roster will be back in 2018, and it's critical to the trajectory of the franchise that those young players continue to develop. With that in mind, here are the five most important questions facing the Padres in the new year:

Can Wil Myers bounce back?

Last offseason, the Padres committed six years and $83 million to Myers as their franchise first baseman. In his first season on that deal, Myers struggled. He mashed 30 homers, but saw his batting average dip to .243, while taking a step back on defense.

Video: SD@SF: Myers mashes a solo homer to left field

It's a crucial year for Myers, who is looking to regain his All-Star-caliber form from the first half of the 2016 season. He's the anchor of the Padres' offense, but during his slumps in '17, he seemed unable to regroup.

This offseason, Myers is seeing a sports psychologist to hone his mental approach. He's also working to better understand his swing, so that he spends less time making in-season alterations.

Which young pitchers emerge?

This particular question is two-tiered. First, at the Major League level, Luis Perdomo and Dinelson Lamet have shown serious promise in their brief Major League tenures. Neither has backed up that promise with much consistency, however. They'll be asked to do so in 2018.

Video: Must C Combo: Perdomo recovers, Myers stretches

Meanwhile, in the Minors, the Padres boasted an elite Double-A rotation. Cal Quantrill (ranked as the organization's No. 2 prospect by MLBPipeline.com), Eric Lauer (No. 8), Joey Lucchesi (No. 9) and Jacob Nix (No. 14) could all receive invites to Spring Training. It will be their first chance to make an impression against big league hitters. And while none of the four will make the Opening Day roster, they could push for a callup later in the season.

If all goes according to plan, the Padres' rotation of the future could become their rotation of the present this year.

Can Matt Stairs help fix the Padres' on-base woes?

There was no shortage of power in San Diego this season, as the Padres set a club record with 189 dingers. For the second straight year, however, they finished last in the Major Leagues in on-base percentage, and they did so by a whopping 10 percentage points.

In September, San Diego parted ways with hitting coach Alan Zinter and hired Matt Stairs the following month. From his playing days, Stairs comes with a reputation as a masher. And it's well-earned. But he played 19 big league seasons and posted a .356 on-base percentage, too.

Video: Stairs discusses joining Padres as hitting coach

Perhaps more importantly, he helped the young-and-free-swinging Phillies improve their on-base percentage by 10 points last year. His philosophy revolves around the ways patience can create opportunities to do damage. If he imparts that wisdom to Padres hitters, they'll be better for it.

Which hitters make a jump in Year 2?

Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, Carlos Asuaje and Hunter Renfroe all saw regular playing time for the first time in 2017. Perhaps predictably, it was an up-and-down experience.

Renfroe set a club rookie record with 25 homers, but he spent a month at Triple-A trying to work out OBP and defensive issues. Hedges was brilliant defensively and showcased better-than-expected power, but his offensive game left much to be desired. Margot was the most consistent of the bunch, but he missed a month with a calf injury. Asuaje didn't begin to play regularly until the second half, exceeding most expectations when he did.

Video: Cassavell emphasizes Renfroe's impact on Padres

It's safe to say we'll learn more about the quartet in 2018. The future of the club's offense hinges, in large part, on whether those four can take steps forward. The Padres believe they will.

What happens to Brad Hand?

The trade chatter surrounding Hand has quieted. He has two years of team control remaining and owns a 2.56 ERA and 11.5 Ks/9 in two seasons with the Padres. Their asking price for Hand -- who they view as one of the sport's best relievers -- is understandably high. And, as of yet, nobody has met it.

Video: COL@SD: Hand K's side to complete shutout, earn save

General manager A.J. Preller has already proven he's content to keep Hand at the back end of his bullpen. Hand, too, has said he'd be happy to remain in San Diego. Of course, that won't stop the rumors from circulating. And if the prospect haul is large enough, Preller just might be willing to part with his top trade chip.

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

 

San Diego Padres

Report: Padres met with Ohtani on Tuesday

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres were the last of the seven teams to meet with two-way Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani, doing so on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, according to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan. Little else is clear.

What are the Padres' chances to land Ohtani, who doubles as a hard-throwing right-hander and a power-hitting lefty? What, exactly, is Ohtani looking for in a suitor? When might he make a decision?

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres were the last of the seven teams to meet with two-way Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani, doing so on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, according to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan. Little else is clear.

What are the Padres' chances to land Ohtani, who doubles as a hard-throwing right-hander and a power-hitting lefty? What, exactly, is Ohtani looking for in a suitor? When might he make a decision?

Hot Stove Tracker

All of that remains unclear as one of the most unique free-agent sagas in recent memory moves into the decision-making stage. The 23-year-old Ohtani has until Dec. 22 to pick a club, and he has reportedly narrowed his list to seven teams -- the Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Mariners, Cubs, Rangers and Padres.

:: Shohei Ohtani coverage ::

San Diego was the last of the seven to meet with Ohtani, after the first six did so on Monday and Tuesday. Afterward, both sides remained tight-lipped on the proceedings -- as has been the case throughout. Few details regarding Ohtani's preferences have emerged.

Nationally, it qualified as a bit of a surprise that the Padres found themselves at the forefront of the Ohtani chatter. Many assumed big-market clubs like the Yankees were the favorites.

Because Ohtani will enter the big leagues before age 25, he's subject to international signing rules, making him extremely affordable given his impressive skill set. Still, the Padres are limited to $300,000 in the money they can offer as a signing bonus. That stems from a penalty they incurred for exceeding their bonus pool during the 2016-17 international signing period. (The Rangers, for example, could pay him more than $3 million.)

On top of the bonus, Ohtani would enter the big leagues on a rookie-level contract. The team Ohtani chooses must also pay the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters a posting fee of $20 million.

There are a handful of reasons Ohtani and the Padres might end up being a match. Ohtani's connections to the Padres' organization have been brought up extensively in the past few days. Former Japanese pitchers Hideo Nomo and Takashi Saito work in the front office in San Diego, and Seiichiro Nakagaki, Ohtani's former trainer with the Fighters, serves as the club's director of sports science. Plus, until last season, the Fighters trained at the Padres' Spring Training facilities in Peoria, Ariz., as part of a deal between the two teams.

Speaking on MLB Network on Monday, Padres general manager A.J. Preller was asked about those connections, and he said they were mostly "overblown." But in a recruitment process like this one, no stone will be left unturned.

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

 

San Diego Padres

Padres among teams set to meet Ohtani

San Diego remains after Japanese star reportedly narrows list of suitors
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres remain in the running for Shohei Ohtani, the star two-way free agent from Japan, according to a report from MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

Ohtani, who was posted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters on Friday, has until Dec. 22 to sign with a big league club. On Sunday, reports began to surface regarding which teams will meet with Ohtani in the coming days, and the Padres are one of the clubs who will get to do so.

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres remain in the running for Shohei Ohtani, the star two-way free agent from Japan, according to a report from MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

Ohtani, who was posted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters on Friday, has until Dec. 22 to sign with a big league club. On Sunday, reports began to surface regarding which teams will meet with Ohtani in the coming days, and the Padres are one of the clubs who will get to do so.

Ohtani field narrows; West Coast preference?

:: Shohei Ohtani coverage ::

The 23-year-old Ohtani is a flame-throwing right-handed pitcher and a power-hitting lefty batter. He's undoubtedly one of the most unique free agents in recent memory. And, because he's entering the Majors younger than 25, he's subject to international signing rules, making him extremely affordable as well.

The Padres, however, are limited to $300,000 in the money they can offer Ohtani as a signing bonus following a penalty they incurred for exceeding their bonus pool during the 2016-17 international signing period. (Other teams can pay him north of $3 million.) On top of the bonus, Ohtani would enter the big leagues on a rookie-level contract. Whoever Ohtani chooses must also pay the Fighters a posting fee of $20 million.

Hot Stove Tracker

For the past year, the Padres have touted their open-mindedness as an organization when it comes to two-way players. Last offseason, they converted Christian Bethancourt from catcher to relief pitcher, and he made the Opening Day roster in a two-way role before being sent to the Minors early in the season.

"It's always interesting," Padres general manager A.J. Preller said last month from the GM Meetings in Orlando, Fla., when asked about Ohtani. "Any time you can have somebody that's a special talent, you don't want to limit that. And I think it's good for the game of baseball. ... It really comes down to the individual, and it takes a special individual. But again, at least in our organization, you never want to say that something's not possible."

The Padres also have several ties to Ohtani, which could prove useful in his decision-making. Hideo Nomo and Takashi Saito, former big league pitchers from Japan, work in the club's front office. Former Fighters trainer Seiichiro Nakagaki also works as the club's director of applied sports science. And until last season, the Padres had a deal in place with the Fighters, allowing them to train at their Spring Training complex in Peoria, Ariz.

It's unclear how many other teams are in the running for Ohtani. But it appears his preference is for the West Coast, with the Dodgers, Giants and Mariners reportedly still in the mix.

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

 

San Diego Padres

Inbox: Which prospects will be in camp?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell answers questions from Padres fans
MLB.com

What prospects could be invited to Major League Spring Training?
-- Ramon, San Diego

The first few weeks of Padres camp have the potential to be extremely fun, with some big-time prospects joining the big league club.

What prospects could be invited to Major League Spring Training?
-- Ramon, San Diego

The first few weeks of Padres camp have the potential to be extremely fun, with some big-time prospects joining the big league club.

Up the middle, I think there's a good chance Padres fans get a look at their presumed double-play duo of the future. No. 3 prospect Luis Urias is a lock for a big league invite, and there's a good chance Fernando Tatis Jr. (ranked No. 4) joins him. Tatis, an 18-year-old shortstop, would get a feel for the big league clubhouse before being sent down in early March. Urias, on the other hand, could linger with the club for the duration of camp -- especially if one of the second-base options ahead of him gets traded.

Submit a question to the Padres Inbox

On the mound, things get tricky. The Padres really want to see their vaunted Double-A rotation in action against big league hitters. But at least 10 pitchers will be competing for spots in the Opening Day rotation. It might be tough to find innings for Cal Quantrill (No. 2), Eric Lauer (No. 8) and Joey Lucchesi (No. 9). That said, I expect all three to open camp with the Padres. It's their first chance to impress for a potential midseason callup.

Video: Mayo talks about rising top prospect Tatis Jr.

Over/under two big league offseason trades for the Padres?
-- Name not given

Can I push? I really like two as the number of deals general manager A.J. Preller will make this offseason.

It seems likely the Padres deal one of their three primary options at second base or third base. Whether it's Yangervis Solarte, Cory Spangenberg or Carlos Asuaje -- that remains to be seen. But there's enough organizational depth at those two spots that I'm comfortable penciling in one trade in the infield.

After that? Flip a coin as to whether Brad Hand will be dealt. The Padres could also make a move for a shortstop, but I'd guess it's likelier they acquire one through free agency. They could easily deal for bullpen help. Or ... they could sell an arm like Kirby Yates or Buddy Baumann for the right price.

I'd err toward the over. But I still think two is the right number.

What are the thoughts on Solarte staying at shortstop for the season if they can't find a quality free-agent stopgap? He seemed serviceable down the stretch.
-- Aaron K., Costa Mesa, Calif.

It doesn't sound as though the Padres are considering that option. Solarte was indeed serviceable, but only as a No. 2 option. That's important, because -- unless Solarte is dealt -- the Padres probably won't need to look for a backup. But he's not nearly rangy enough to play short everyday.

Consider this: The Padres' starting rotation was the only rotation in the Majors to post a ground-ball rate above 50 percent in 2017. Their Ultimate Zone Rating at shortstop was -13.3, the worst mark in the Majors. Poor infield play was a serious detriment to San Diego's staff, specifically sinkerballers Luis Perdomo, Clayton Richard and Jhoulys Chacin.

If the Padres want to play to their pitchers' strengths, they'll sign a better defensive shortstop this offseason. Zack Cozart and Alcides Escobar, two readily available free agents, are past their primes defensively. But both are still above average. Ideally, Solarte would continue to play second and third regularly, while serving as backup to someone of that ilk.

Video: SD@LAD: Solarte lays out to rob Bellinger of a hit

Giancarlo Stanton to the Padres: Could it be done? How would it be done?
-- Loren C., San Diego

Let me address your first question first: No. It won't be done. But let's have some fun. This is the Padres Inbox, after all.

How would it be done, you ask? Well, the Padres aren't about to commit $295 million to one player when there are numerous holes to fill on the roster. I'd guess the Marlins need to eat at least a third -- and maybe half -- of that money. And if the Marlins are going to eat half of that money, the Padres need to compensate them with some serious young talent in return.

Hunter Renfroe goes to Miami as a young, high-upside right-field replacement for Stanton. After that, at least two elite prospects are needed to complete the deal -- let's say Urias and left-hander Adrian Morejon, both Top 100 according to MLBPipeline. Then, maybe the Padres throw in an unproven youngster with potential, because this is Giancarlo Stanton we're talking about. Say, 19-year-old catcher Luis Campusano.

So it's Renfroe, Urias, Morejon and Campusano to Miami for Stanton and half his salary. Who says no? Both teams. The Marlins seem intent on shedding as much of that contract as possible. And the Padres wouldn't give up on four extremely cost-effective assets who could make an impact down the road. Theoretically, San Diego could use that Stanton money to bring a top free agent on board when those four guys are playing for a contender.

So, yeah, a Stanton trade isn't happening. But it was fun to envision him peppering the Western Metal Building on a nightly basis, wasn't it?

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

 

San Diego Padres

Padres prospects show off skills at Fall Stars

Urias homers, Naylor triples in Arizona showcase game
MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A big part of the Padres' future was on display in Saturday's Fall Stars Game as Luis Urias and Josh Naylor, two of the younger position players in this year's Arizona Fall League, impressed in several facets of the game in a losing effort for the West team.

The duo accounted for both of the West team's runs and the two hardest-hit balls of the game in a 4-2 loss against the East at Salt River Fields.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A big part of the Padres' future was on display in Saturday's Fall Stars Game as Luis Urias and Josh Naylor, two of the younger position players in this year's Arizona Fall League, impressed in several facets of the game in a losing effort for the West team.

The duo accounted for both of the West team's runs and the two hardest-hit balls of the game in a 4-2 loss against the East at Salt River Fields.

:: 2017 Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game ::

Urias, who started at shortstop, excelled on both sides of the ball in the contest. Defensively, the Padres' No. 3 prospect (No. 48 overall) showcased his first-step quickness and range when he made a diving play up the middle before flipping the ball to second baseman Brandon Lowe, who threw to first to complete a 6-4-3 double play.

"I wasn't expecting to start at shortstop tonight, but I made that adjustment," said Urias, who saw more time at shortstop this past season than he previously had at any point in his career. "I feel very comfortable there, but not the same confidence I feel at second base."

The 20-year-old infielder then made his mark at the plate in the following frame with a booming solo home run which knotted the game at 2.

Video: WEST@EAST: Urias lays out to start 6-4-3 double play

After working a 3-1 count against Albert Alzolay, Urias got every bit of a 96 mph fastball, depositing it well beyond the wall in left-center field. The ball traveled a projected 416 feet, per Statcast™, with an exit velocity of 107.9 mph.

Video: WEST@EAST: Urias clubs a solo home run to left field

"To be honest I don't know how I hit it out," said Urias, who owns a .324/.460/.514 batting line with a circuit-best 11 walks through 12 games for Peoria in the Fall League. "That's not a big part of my game -- I'm more about getting base hits and hitting line drives. I'm very happy that I could hit the ball that far."

As for Naylor, the Padres' No. 10 prospect showcased his hitting ability and underrated speed when he tripled to open the second inning. The 20-year-old first baseman turned on a Justus Sheffield fastball, ripping it with an exit velocity of 107.5 mph just inside the first-base line past an outstretched Matt Thaiss.

Video: WEST@EAST: Naylor triples in the 2nd inning

Even more impressive was Naylor's baserunning, as he reached a top sprint speed of 27.7 feet/second while going home to third base in 12.7 seconds. He eventually came in to score in the frame to account for the West's first run before finishing 1-for-4 at the plate.

Urias, meanwhile, went 1-for-2 in the contest before being replaced by Nicky Lopez.

"It's a great opportunity," Urias said. "It feels great to represent the Padres, and I'm very excited to have this opportunity."

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

 

San Diego Padres, Josh Naylor, Luis Urias

Prospects Urias, Naylor produce in AFL opener

MLB.com

Padres prospects Luis Urias and Josh Naylor both had strong Arizona Fall League debuts in the Peoria Javelinas' 3-0 victory over Glendale on Tuesday to open the season.

Urias, a middle infielder, went 1-for-3 with a single and a run scored. The 20-year-old is San Diego's No. 3 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, and No. 48 overall. He posted a .296/.398/.380 slash line in 118 games for Double-A San Antonio this season.

Padres prospects Luis Urias and Josh Naylor both had strong Arizona Fall League debuts in the Peoria Javelinas' 3-0 victory over Glendale on Tuesday to open the season.

Urias, a middle infielder, went 1-for-3 with a single and a run scored. The 20-year-old is San Diego's No. 3 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, and No. 48 overall. He posted a .296/.398/.380 slash line in 118 games for Double-A San Antonio this season.

Signed out of the Mexican League as a 16-year-old, Urias was named the Class A Advanced California League's MVP in 2016 at age 19. He's a line-drive hitter with excellent pitch recognition and sprays the ball all over the field, especially in the gaps. With his advanced approach at the plate, he's seen as an impact player at the Major League level.

Naylor, the Padres' No. 10 prospect, went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles for Peoria. San Diego acquired the 20-year-old first baseman in the trade that sent Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea and Tayron Guerrero to the Marlins in July 2016. Naylor was a first-round selection (12th overall) by Miami in 2015. Between Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio this season, he slashed .280/.346/.415 with 10 home runs in 114 games.

Video: WLD@USA: Josh Naylor puts the World Team on the board

Naylor has plus-plus raw power as a left-handed hitter, but his early results in the Minors are more reflective of his bat speed and excellent hand-eye coordination. His ability to keep the barrel in the zone longer than most hitters leads to hard contact to all parts of the field, and he projects as a middle-of-the-order hitter in the Majors, with the potential to produce 30-plus homers in a season.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

 

San Diego Padres, Josh Naylor

Tatis Jr., Lucchesi named Padres Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Padres spent the summer of 2016 replenishing their once-barren farm system. It's beginning to pay dividends.

Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and left-hander Joey Lucchesi were named as the organization's prospects of the year by MLBPipeline this week. Both were brought on board last summer, as part of the reboot of the Padres' farm system -- Tatis via trade and Lucchesi through the Draft.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Padres spent the summer of 2016 replenishing their once-barren farm system. It's beginning to pay dividends.

Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and left-hander Joey Lucchesi were named as the organization's prospects of the year by MLBPipeline this week. Both were brought on board last summer, as part of the reboot of the Padres' farm system -- Tatis via trade and Lucchesi through the Draft.

Padres' Prospects of the Year

Tatis, who was acquired for James Shields last June, is the Hitting Prospect of the Year in the San Diego system. The Padres' No. 4 prospect spent most of the season at Class A Fort Wayne, where he broke a franchise record with 21 homers, while slashing .281/.390/.520.

Tatis received a promotion to Double-A San Antonio just before its playoff run. He struggled initially, but came on strong in the postseason, where he batted .350.

"I just feel like it was all paying off," Tatis said Saturday before starring in the Padres On Deck Game. "My work was paying off."

General manager A.J. Preller noted Sunday that he feels Tatis has the tools to stick at shortstop -- a position of need in San Diego for most of the past decade.

"We think he's a shortstop," Preller said. "That's where we're evaluating him, and we feel like he's a guy that has a chance to have an impact on both ends of the ball, offensively for sure, and defensively."

Lucchesi, meanwhile, is San Diego's Pitching Prospect of the Year -- and he could very well become the Padres' first 2016 Draft pick to reach the Majors. The 24-year-old left-hander, ranked as the Padres' No. 9 prospect, was part of a powerhouse young pitching staff that started the year in Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore before progressing to San Antonio.

In 78 2/3 innings for Elsinore, Lucchesi posted a 2.52 ERA, striking out 95 hitters and walking 19. After his promotion, he got even better, notching a 1.79 mark in 10 Double-A appearances (nine starts).

There's a good chance Lucchesi's success earns him an invite to Major League Spring Training next spring.

"He's gotten stronger as the year went on," Preller said. "He got more efficient with his pitch mix, got more efficient with his strikes."

Lucchesi was a fourth-round pick out of Southeast Missouri State, where he set the Ohio Valley Conference strikeout record. His swing-and-miss stuff has translated to professional ball.

Part of that can be attributed to a quirky-yet-free delivery, which undoubtedly throws off the timing of hitters. Preller was quick to note that there's more to it than that.

"Everybody wants to focus on the deception, the unique delivery, all that," Preller said. "But honestly, he's got pretty good stuff. He's a guy that repeats what he does, and the velocity ticked up as the year went on. He was consistently low 90s and he's got a curveball and a changeup that he can command.

"When you've got three pitches, left-handed, big body, uniqueness, that's a pretty good package. He's put himself into the conversation for us, to at least be invited into the mix."

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

 

San Diego Padres

Padres prospects on stage in On Deck Game

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Fernando Tatis Jr. jumpstarted the Padres' prospects to a 5-2 victory against Rangers Minor Leaguers on Saturday night at Petco Park, as the organizations wrapped up Instructional League play with the Padres On Deck Game.

Tatis, San Diego's No. 4 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored. In a breakout season, Tatis, still a teenager at 18, posted a 20-20 season with Class A Fort Wayne before jumping to Double-A San Antonio. He brought that success to Petco Park.

SAN DIEGO -- Fernando Tatis Jr. jumpstarted the Padres' prospects to a 5-2 victory against Rangers Minor Leaguers on Saturday night at Petco Park, as the organizations wrapped up Instructional League play with the Padres On Deck Game.

Tatis, San Diego's No. 4 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored. In a breakout season, Tatis, still a teenager at 18, posted a 20-20 season with Class A Fort Wayne before jumping to Double-A San Antonio. He brought that success to Petco Park.

Top five performers from Padres On Deck Game

"I've been working hard," Tatis said. "People say I'm only 18, but I don't think I play this game like I'm 18 years old. I work harder than an 18-year-old. I really focus just on my job and try to do the best for my team.

Padres Top 30 Prospects list

"Being able to do something and show something over here at Petco, it's very cool."

Tweet from @Padres: FINAL: Padres 5, Rangers 2#PadresOnDeck pic.twitter.com/PFBvxSEV1L

With one out in the first against the Rangers' No. 6 prospect Cole Ragans, Esteury Ruiz, the 30th-ranked Padres prospect, doubled into the left-field corner. Tatis then smashed a single to left, scoring Ruiz and putting the Padres ahead, 1-0.

No. 11 prospect Jorge Ona followed with an RBI triple and scored on Tirso Ornelas' groundout for a 3-0 lead.

Ragans recovered, retiring the final five batters he faced. Hans Crouse, Texas' No. 7 prospect, allowed a run on four hits, getting all six outs in his two innings pitched via strikeout.

In the fifth, Tatis sent a booming double off the right-field wall, missing a home run by a few feet. He came home two batters later on Orlenas' single to left.

Tweet from @Padres: Check out how Jeisson Rosario celebrated a #PadresOnDeck Game win! (And yes, he nailed the landing) 👏 pic.twitter.com/q6QD2HjlVe

Meanwhile, San Diego's pitching was dominant. Right-hander Jacob Nix, the team's 15th-ranked prospect, started and went three innings. The only run he allowed came on a bases-loaded error by Ruiz at second on a ball that could've easily become an inning-ending double play.

Lefty Adrian Morejon, San Diego's No. 5 prospect, followed Nix with two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out four.

Video: Top Prospects: Adrian Morejon, LHP, Padres

Righty Michel Baez matched Nix, giving up one run over three innings. Baez shot up San Diego's system to No. 7 during the season, in which he posted a 2.54 ERA and struck out 89 batters in 63 2/3 innings.

"Baez had done incredible things this year," said Tatis, who spent most of the season with Baez in Fort Wayne. "I feel like I was seeing something special, something like Pedro [Martinez]."

For the Rangers, No. 5 prospect Bubba Thompson went 1-for-4, No. 20 prospect Pedro Gonzalez added two hits and No. 27 prospect Matt Whatley smacked an RBI triple. Charles Leblanc, batting fifth, went 3-for-4 with a double and run scored.

Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego.

 

San Diego Padres, Fernando Tatis Jr.

Top five performers from Padres On Deck Game

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Padres general manager A.J. Preller has spent the past two years building depth in his Minor League system. It seemed to pay off Saturday night, when San Diego's Minor Leaguers downed the Rangers' prospects, 5-2, in the Padres On Deck Game at Petco Park in their instructional league finale.

Although MacKenzie Gore, San Diego's No. 1 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, was shut down because of an innings limit, there was still plenty of talent on display at Petco Park, some of it which could be promoted to the big league club as soon as the late in the 2018 season.

SAN DIEGO -- Padres general manager A.J. Preller has spent the past two years building depth in his Minor League system. It seemed to pay off Saturday night, when San Diego's Minor Leaguers downed the Rangers' prospects, 5-2, in the Padres On Deck Game at Petco Park in their instructional league finale.

Although MacKenzie Gore, San Diego's No. 1 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, was shut down because of an innings limit, there was still plenty of talent on display at Petco Park, some of it which could be promoted to the big league club as soon as the late in the 2018 season.

Padres Top 30 Prospects list

Here's a look at the top five Padres performers from Saturday's game.

Fernando Tatis Jr., shortstop/third baseman, No. 4 prospect
Tatis was clearly the star of the game. Acquired from the White Sox in the James Shields deal, Tatis went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored. He also started a double play as a shortstop and one as a third baseman.

Tatis, 18, posted a 20-20 season for Class A Fort Wayne, setting a franchise record for home runs, before jumping to Double-A. MLBPipeline's No. 51 prospect, Tatis said he doesn't feel pressure as he continues to rise up prospect rankings.

"Honestly, I'm not worried," Tatis said. "That concentrates me more and pushes me to work even harder because people are expecting a lot from me, so I've got to bring it even more."

Jacob Nix, right-hander, No. 15 prospect
Nix started the game for the Padres, going three innings and allowing one run. Nix spent the season at Double-A before receiving one Triple-A postseason start.

San Diego's third-round pick in 2015, Nix didn't make too much of the opportunity to pitch at Petco, calling it "just another start." But the 21-year-old made the most of it.

"Hopefully, it'll get me ready for pitching here in the future," Nix said.

Video: Top Prospects: Jacob Nix, RHP, Padres

Michel Baez, right-hander, No. 7 prospect
Baez's 2017 performance shot him up San Diego's prospect rankings. He had a 2.54 ERA in 11 starts, striking out 89 in 63 2/3 innings.

Baez brought that same excellence to Petco Park. Across three innings, the 21-year-old allowed four hits and one run while striking out three. Tatis, who spent most of the year with Baez in Fort Wayne, compared watching the right-hander to watching Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez.

"Baez had done incredible things this year," said Tatis, who spent most of the season with Baez in Fort Wayne. "I feel like I was seeing something special, something like Pedro."

Adrian Morejon, left-hander, No. 5 prospect
Morejon followed Nix and pitched dominantly, striking out four in two scoreless innings and allowing only one hit.

Like Tatis, Morejon is only 18 years old. He had a 3.86 ERA in 13 starts between short-season Tri-City and Fort Wayne.

Video: Top Prospects: Adrian Morejon, LHP, Padres

Jorge Ona, outfielder, No. 11 prospect
Ona, serving as the designated hitter, connected on an RBI triple in the first and scored later in the inning on a groundout.

The 20-year-old Cuban native was signed in July 2016 and hit plenty in his first season. With Fort Wayne, Ona posted a slash line of .277/.351/.404 with 11 homers, providing hope more power will develop in his 6-foot, 220-pound frame.

Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego.

 

San Diego Padres

Tatis Jr., Morejon highlight Padres On Deck

MLB.com

Padres fans will get a glimpse of their future on Saturday as several of the club's top prospects will take the field against a group of Rangers prospects for the "Padres On Deck Game" at Petco Park.

Fernando Tatis Jr. and Adrian Morejon, the Padres' No. 4 and No. 5 prospects, are among those scheduled to play.

Padres fans will get a glimpse of their future on Saturday as several of the club's top prospects will take the field against a group of Rangers prospects for the "Padres On Deck Game" at Petco Park.

Fernando Tatis Jr. and Adrian Morejon, the Padres' No. 4 and No. 5 prospects, are among those scheduled to play.

The game comes at the end of Instructional League play where both Tatis and Morejon are among 79 Padres prospects participating. Morejon, the No. 69 overall prospect, will conclude his season at Petco Park while Tatis, the No. 52 overall prospect, will take a short break before heading to the Domincan Winter League, after Estrellas Orientales selected him No. 1 overall in the Draft.

"He had a tremendous year," Sam Geaney, the Padres' director of player development, said of Tatis. "He's looked good. It's been a very long year for him, starting in January. A lot of real positives."

Tatis, who also played in the On Deck game last season, has been a full participant in instructs after playing in 131 games across two levels during the regular season.

The 18-year-old hit .281 in 117 games with Class A Fort Wayne before he was promoted straight to Double-A San Antonio where he hit .255 over 14 games. After playing well in his first full season, Tatis has continued to impress during instructs.

"He's had a good program here, just as he did last season," Geaney said.

Morejon, also 18, pitched across two levels as well in his professional debut. The lefty posted a 3.86 ERA across 13 starts with Class A Short Season Tri-City and Class A Fort Wayne.

Video: Top Prospects: Adrian Morejon, LHP, Padres

Morejon was a few days late to instructs as Fort Wayne was still playing in the Midwest League Finals, during which Morejon started the final game. Although Morejon would have liked to have performed better in that games (six earned runs in 1 2/3 innings) the Padres were still pleased with what they saw from him overall throughout the season.

"He has a very positive first year," Geaney said. "Couple things we are working on mechanically, continue to focus on his secondary developments which, at times, have been really, really good, as well as his overall command."

William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

 

San Diego Padres

Inbox: Who will join Richard in '18 rotation?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell answers questions from Padres fans
MLB.com

Who has a guaranteed spot in the Padres' rotation next season?
-- Campbell D., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Clayton Richard. And that's it.

Who has a guaranteed spot in the Padres' rotation next season?
-- Campbell D., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Clayton Richard. And that's it.

The rotation race will be wide open entering Spring Training. There are eight players under contract set to compete for those four remaining spots. And all eight have question marks -- whether due to injury, youth or career decline. Luis Perdomo and Dinelson Lamet are early favorites.

Given all the uncertainty, however, I'd expect the Padres to sign at least two free-agent starters capable of opening the season in the rotation. One of those pitchers could be Jhoulys Chacin. The other? Well, it's a thin market. But Derek Holland, Jeremy Hellickson and even old friend Tyson Ross are all options.

:: Submit a question to the Padres Inbox ::

How will the Padres deal with their logjam at second base? Will Luis Urias start there, no matter what, by the 2019 season?
-- Sergio Q.

It's far too early to anoint Urias, the club's No. 3 prospect, as the starting second baseman after next season. He'll be 21 on Opening Day 2019. As good as he's been at the lower levels of the Minors, he still has room to grow -- as evidenced by his .380 slugging percentage with Double-A San Antonio this season. (Of course, Urias coupled that mark with a .296 average and a .398 on-base percentage.)

There's a clear logjam at second base, and Urias' impending arrival only clutters things further. Yangervis Solarte, Carlos Asuaje and Cory Spangenberg all have a place in the team's future plans. But none has emerged as a definitive building block.

That makes it particularly difficult to project a trade. I'd expect one of those three to be moved before the start of the 2018 season. The two players who remain will enter camp as starters at second and third base. It won't be long before Urias is pushing them for a job.

Will the Padres be looking for another stopgap shortstop or will they go after a long-term option?
-- Pog L.

Chances are, the Padres will be looking for yet another stopgap, as they've done each of the past three offseasons -- when Clint Barmes, Alexei Ramirez and Erick Aybar filled the void. The difference is: This time a stopgap solution seems OK.

Fernando Tatis Jr., ranked as San Diego's fourth-best prospect and No. 51 overall by MLBPipeline, is one of the fastest rising prospects in baseball. He set Class A Fort Wayne's single-season home run record, then he was promoted and held his own at San Antonio. (Never mind that at 18, he was six years younger than the average age of players in the Texas League.)

Tatis is close. He could make an impact at the big league level as soon as 2019. But Tatis is not the only impressive shortstop prospect in the system. With that in mind, the Padres won't bet the farm on a shortstop this offseason. They'll likely be content to bring in another veteran free agent -- unless there's a low-cost, high-upside option available on the trade market.

What is the biggest offseason focus for general manager A.J. Preller?
-- Hayden F.

Preller will be looking to add in a number of areas this offseason, and we've already addressed the two most pressing -- shortstop and starting pitching.

That said, Preller's biggest focus will almost certainly be on the trade front. Specifically: What does San Diego do with Brad Hand? Preller took a gamble by hanging on to one of the most coveted relievers on the market at the Trade Deadline. Hand has rewarded Preller's faith by posting a 2.01 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP in the second half.

Hand is under team control for two more seasons. His trade value remains sky high, and there are 29 other teams that could use bullpen help. Surely, the Padres will be offered some of the game's top prospects for Hand.

Preller must decide whether he's willing to part with one of the game's best relievers. If so -- and this is the likelier option -- it shouldn't be hard to find a trade partner. But if not, then Preller needs to get serious about the possibility of extending Hand's contract by a year or two. The worst-case scenario for San Diego would be seeing Hand walk in 2019, just as the organization's young talent begins to push the team into contention.

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

 

San Diego Padres