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Tatis rides championship winter into camp

Padres' No. 1 prospect determined to win roster spot
MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The offseason, for No. 1 Padres prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., lasted all of two weeks.

"Good to be young," quipped the 20-year-old shortstop from the clubhouse at the team's Spring Training complex on Wednesday.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The offseason, for No. 1 Padres prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., lasted all of two weeks.

"Good to be young," quipped the 20-year-old shortstop from the clubhouse at the team's Spring Training complex on Wednesday.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Tatis, ranked No. 2 among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects, arrived at Padres camp last week, after spending nearly the entire winter playing for Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican Republic.

In his hometown of San Pedro de Macoris, Tatis helped lead Estrellas to their first championship in more than half a century. He batted .263/.379/.488 with three homers during the regular season. Then he homered three more times -- including a walk-off shot (and a demonstrative bat flip) -- in the playoffs.

"I grew a lot as a man and a baseball player, too," Tatis said of his experience this winter. "Winning a championship for my hometown was very fun. Breaking the 51 years without winning was very special."

Video: MLB Network highlights No. 2 prospect Tatis' talents

In more ways than one, it was an incredibly worthwhile experience for Tatis, whose father served as manager of the team. The young shortstop made up for the time he lost last summer when he missed the second half of the Double-A season with a broken bone in his left thumb.

"We ultimately want to win championships," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Him getting experience doing that is a good thing. He missed a lot of baseball last year with the thumb injury, and he got two months of really high-quality, tough competition."

Said Tatis: "Baseball players get better by playing baseball. I was there. I was learning. I was getting better."

Tweet from @Padres: Let us welcome you to #PadresST with the sweet swing of @tatis_jr 🌵 pic.twitter.com/6Wmglq9KCp

Tatis asked the Padres for permission to play in the Caribbean Series, but he knew that request was unlikely to be granted. He's set some important goals in Peoria, after all, chief among them: "Make the team."

That was his goal last year, too, but this time it feels different.

"It's a reality now," he said. "There's a chance it might happen."

"He's got every opportunity to force our hand by the way he plays," said Green.

It still seems unlikely. Tatis has yet to receive a full season's worth of at-bats at Double-A. Service time considerations might also come into play. If the Padres wait a few weeks to promote Tatis, they'd gain an extra year of team control at the end of his rookie contract.

But that's a debate for another day. For now, Tatis is in camp, determined to prove his worthiness for the Opening Day roster.

He's also determined to disprove the notion that his strong 6-foot-3 frame might be better suited for an eventual move to third base. To some extent, Tatis has already done that. Scouts have marveled at his ability to handle the position, and the Padres remain as committed to Tatis at short as they ever have.

"Maybe in 12 years I'll move to third," a gamesome Tatis said, as he broke into a wide smile.

Video: Top Prospects: Luis Urias, 2B, Padres

Urias set for shortstop work
Luis Urias -- Tatis' presumed long-term middle-infield partner -- will play shortstop primarily during the early stages of Spring Training.

"It's probably best for us to expose him to the bulk of his reps early on over there," Green said. "At second base, he's got a high comfort factor already."

Urias debuted last season and played second base exclusively with the big league club, though he's split time relatively evenly between second and short in the Minors. Urias is the projected stopgap at shortstop while the Padres wait on Tatis' arrival. With the December addition of second baseman Ian Kinsler, there's an obvious path to playing time for Urias at short.

"He's definitely one of our leading contenders to be at that spot at the start of his season," Green said, adding that Urias has entirely recovered from the left hamstring strain that sidelined him in September.

Video: SD@CHC: Reyes launches monster 477-ft. HR off Lester

Reyes on the mend
Right fielder Franmil Reyes has recovered from offseason surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee. He was in Padres camp on Wednesday and has been fully cleared for workouts, though the club might take things slowly with the hulking 23-year-old.

"Coming back from a knee injury, we might hold him out of some running drills early," Green said. "Right now, he's cleared to do everything with us, but no reason in early February to push him too hard."

Reyes was the Padres' best hitter in the second half last season, and he finished his rookie year with a .280/.340/.498 slash line and 16 home runs in 87 games. He's set for a fierce spring competition for corner-outfield spots -- a competition that also features Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe and Franchy Cordero.

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

San Diego Padres, Fernando Tatis Jr.

Around the Horn: Padres' youthful rotation

MLB.com

With Spring Training on the horizon, MLB.com is taking an in-depth look at the 2019 Padres, breaking the team down position by position. Today, we preview the San Diego starting pitchers.

Around the Horn series: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | LF | CF | RF

With Spring Training on the horizon, MLB.com is taking an in-depth look at the 2019 Padres, breaking the team down position by position. Today, we preview the San Diego starting pitchers.

Around the Horn series: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | LF | CF | RF

SAN DIEGO -- There's a lot of potential for the Padres to field a very good pitching staff in a year or two. They boast the best farm system in baseball, littered with elite pitching talent at every level, and seven of their arms rank among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects. That's more pitchers on the Top 100 list than 28 other teams have players in total.

It's extremely important that the Padres nurture and develop that group properly. Because right now, "potential" is much more abundant in the San Diego rotation than proven production.

A season ago, the Friars posted the highest ERA among starters in the National League, at 5.09. Among the current Opening Day rotation options, Luis Perdomo has made the most career starts with 59. No one in the group has reached 20 career wins yet.

It puts the Padres in an odd state of limbo, caught between two distinctly different stages in their trajectory as an organization. Their rotation has been undeniably rocky over the past three seasons. It could be very good over the next few.

But what do the Padres do in the interim? And how can they speed up the transition to a contending-caliber pitching staff?

The Padres' front office has grappled with those questions for the past year. Should San Diego trade from its farm for a proven Major League starter? Should it pony up big money for an ace who can offer help instantly?

So far, the answer has been, "No." The Padres' only offseason addition was Garrett Richards, who likely won't pitch this season as he returns from Tommy John surgery. As things stand, only Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer can be penciled into the Opening Day starting five.

After them, it's a mishmash of unheralded prospects and long-relief types. It's certainly still possible that the Padres add a starter to the mix before Spring Training. But as things stand, the options are relatively thin:

In the rotation: Lauer, Lucchesi

In the mix: Robbie Erlin, Bryan Mitchell, Perdomo, Matt Strahm, Jacob Nix, Brett Kennedy, Logan Allen, Cal Quantrill

Top 30 prospects -- No. 2 MacKenzie Gore, No. 5 Chris Paddack, No. 6 Adrian Morejon, No. 7 Michel Baez, No. 8 Allen, No. 9 Luis Patino, No. 10 Ryan Weathers, No. 11 Cal Quantrill, No. 12 Anderson Espinoza, No. 14 Nix, No. 21 Reggie Lawson, No. 26 Dylan Coleman, No. 29 Pedro Avila

Best-case scenario
Much of the Padres' best-case scenario regarding the rotation won't play out at the big league level. It's vitally important to the organization's future that the current group of prospects produces at least a few frontline starters. In the best-case scenario, Gore, Patino and Paddack continue on that path, and a few others, like Baez and Morejon, make strides as well.

Video: Callis on why MacKenzie Gore is his favorite prospect

At the big league level, Lauer and Lucchesi establish themselves as undeniable Major League rotation pieces. Strahm, meanwhile, transitions seamlessly from reliever to starter, and by midseason Dinelson Lamet returns from Tommy John surgery and maintains his impressive ability to miss bats.

It's not an elite rotation. But it holds its own while prospects like Paddack, Allen and Quantrill get their first taste of the big leagues as well.

Worst-case scenario
It's worth remembering just how promising Lamet's rookie season really was. His 28.7 percent strikeout rate was the highest single-season mark for a regular starting pitcher in Padres history. In the worst-case scenario, Lamet's timetable for a return is slowed, and he struggles to find his form when he gets back on the mound.

Meanwhile, the back end of the San Diego rotation is exposed. Mitchell, Perdomo, Nix and Kennedy have all been prone to hard contact, and the trend continues. The Padres spend the season shuffling starters back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors, while slumping to an ERA that again ranks toward the bottom of the Majors.

A reasonable prediction
It's fair to expect this rotation to struggle, especially at the start of the season. Lauer and Lucchesi are up and down. Strahm and Erlin are better suited for relief roles. Perdomo and Mitchell continue to flounder.

But the group steadily improves as the year goes by. Lamet returns and posts even better numbers than he did in 2017. Allen arrives and starts to establish himself as a clear piece of the future staff. Even Paddack gets into the mix during the final month or two.

Video: Top Prospects: Chris Paddack, RHP, Padres

By the end of the season, the rotation's numbers aren't great. But the Padres are set up nicely for 2020, with Richards poised to join the group. During the offseason, general manager A.J. Preller decides it's time to splurge on a big-name starting pitcher to headline a suddenly promising young rotation.

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

San Diego Padres

Padres land record 10 on Top 100 Prospects list

Tatis (No. 2 overall) leads group of San Diego's future stars
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' farm system has been the toast of Minor League Baseball for nearly two years now. Believe it or not, that system might actually be getting better.

MLB Pipeline released its preseason ranking of the Top 100 prospects on Saturday night, and the list again skews heavily toward San Diego. The Padres became the first team in the history of the rankings to place 10 prospects on the preseason list.

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' farm system has been the toast of Minor League Baseball for nearly two years now. Believe it or not, that system might actually be getting better.

MLB Pipeline released its preseason ranking of the Top 100 prospects on Saturday night, and the list again skews heavily toward San Diego. The Padres became the first team in the history of the rankings to place 10 prospects on the preseason list.

:: Complete 2019 Top 100 Prospects coverage ::

Top shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. leads the way at No. 2 overall, with MacKenzie Gore, Luis Urias, Francisco Mejia and Chris Paddack all among the top 34.

Using MLB Pipeline's system of "prospect points," the Padres rank first by a long shot, with a record 574. Prospect points are used to show how well clubs rank in terms of their representation within the Top 100, with each prospect being assigned a value -- 100 for No. 1, 99 for No. 2 and so forth. The Padres' mark of 574 is the most ever recorded on any prospect list -- preseason or midseason.

Here's the full list of the 10 Padres prospects in MLB Pipeline's rankings.

2. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
15. MacKenzie Gore, LHP
23. Luis Urias, 2B
26. Francisco Mejia, C
34. Chris Paddack, RHP
48. Luis Patino, RHP
49. Adrian Morejon, LHP
72. Michel Baez, RHP
74. Logan Allen, LHP
93. Ryan Weathers, LHP

Video: MLB Network highlights No. 2 prospect Tatis' talents

That group represents a fairly even mix between the different levels of the Padres' system. Five of those youngsters -- Tatis, Urias, Mejia, Paddack and Allen -- will be in big league camp competing for jobs. Both Urias and Mejia are favorites for the Opening Day roster at this point. Tatis, the presumed shortstop of the future in San Diego, is expected to arrive in the first half of the season.

But the strength of the Padres' system lies in its depth. And at the lower levels, that depth is heavily skewed toward pitching.

Gore, Morejon, Allen and Weathers all rank among MLB Pipeline's Top 10 left-handers. They became the first quartet from a single team to finish in the top 10 rankings at any position.

Video: Top Prospects: MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Padres

The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 prospects is assembled by MLB Pipeline Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2019 season are eligible for the list. Players who were at least 25 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.

Over the next month, MLB Pipeline will unveil its rankings of the top overall farm systems (which is different from the prospects points ranking, given that it takes a team's entire crop of prospects into account). The Padres are early favorites to lead the way for a third time in a row.

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

San Diego Padres, Logan Allen, Fernando Tatis Jr., Francisco Mejia, Chris Paddack, Luis Urias

Tatis atop Padres' prospect-heavy NRI list

No. 2 overall prospect homered in Cactus League debut last spring
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- A loaded group of prospects will report to Padres camp next month, and MLB Pipeline's top-rated shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr., is the headliner once again.

San Diego announced a list of 21 non-roster invites to big league Spring Training on Thursday morning. It's overflowing with highly regarded young talent. Lefty Logan Allen, righty Cal Quantrill, center fielder Buddy Reed, third baseman Hudson Potts and first baseman Josh Naylor all joined Tatis in earning invites.

SAN DIEGO -- A loaded group of prospects will report to Padres camp next month, and MLB Pipeline's top-rated shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr., is the headliner once again.

San Diego announced a list of 21 non-roster invites to big league Spring Training on Thursday morning. It's overflowing with highly regarded young talent. Lefty Logan Allen, righty Cal Quantrill, center fielder Buddy Reed, third baseman Hudson Potts and first baseman Josh Naylor all joined Tatis in earning invites.

Eight more of the team's top 30 prospects are already part of the 40-man roster. In fact, Padres camp will feature five of MLB Pipeline's top 100 prospects overall -- Tatis (No. 2), Francisco Mejia (No. 26), Luis Urias (No. 27), Chris Paddack (No. 35) and Allen (No. 76).

No doubt, the 20-year-old Tatis will garner the bulk of the fanfare (as he did a season ago, when he swatted an opposite-field homer in his first Cactus League at-bat).

He's presumed to be the Padres' shortstop of the future, and he batted .286/.355/.507 at Double-A last season before missing the final two months with a broken bone in his left thumb. Clearly, Tatis has regained full health, as he helped lead Estrellas de Oriente to a Dominican Winter League crown this week.

It remains unlikely that Tatis will crack the Opening Day roster. He's only played a few months in Double-A, and there are service-time concerns surrounding an early-season debut. But he's practically a lock to be promoted to the big league club in the first half of the season, barring injury.

Video: Cassavell on the excitement around Tatis Jr.

Here's the full list of non-roster invites, with a breakdown at each position:

Pitchers: Allen, David Bednar, Ryan Bollinger, Dietrich Enns, Tyler Higgins, Jerry Keel, Kazuhisa Makita, Nick Margevicius, Kyle McGrath, Quantrill, Jesse Scholtens, Eric Stout, Carlos Torres, T.J. Weir, Eric Yardley

In each of the past two seasons a non-roster reliever has cracked the Opening Day roster and instantly become a pivotal late-innings option. Craig Stammen did so in 2017, and Adam Cimber followed suit in '18. The Padres' current big league bullpen is already deep. But McGrath and Weir posted impressive numbers at the upper levels of the Minors last season. Torres, a 36-year-old right-hander, is a nine-year veteran looking for a bounce-back season after struggling for Washington last year.

Catchers: Chris Stewart, Webster Rivas

The Padres still might add another depth piece behind the plate. Stewart brings a wealth of experience, having split 12 big league seasons among eight teams. But he struggled mightily in the Braves' system last year, posting a .576 OPS at Triple-A, before a brief September stint in Arizona. With Austin Hedges, Mejia and Austin Allen already in camp, it's hard to envision any non-roster catchers making a case for playing time.

Infielders: Allen Craig, Seth Mejias-Brean, Naylor, Potts, Esteban Quiroz, Aderlin Rodriguez, Tatis, Jason Vosler

If there's one spot where a non-roster player is most likely to break camp with the big league club, it's in the infield. Eric Hosmer, Ian Kinsler and (probably) Urias all have roster spots. After that, it's wide open. Keep an eye on Quiroz, whom the Padres acquired in a deal for righty reliever Colten Brewer this offseason. Quiroz spent seven seasons in the Mexican League before joining the Red Sox organization last year. He's played second, third and short, and he's reached base at an elite clip everywhere he's played -- a trait the Padres sorely lack.

Outfielders: Alex Dickerson, Boog Powell, Reed, Jacob Scavuzzo

Along with Naylor, Reed is among the most interesting prospects in camp, mostly because the club is eager to see how they fare against big league opposition. Still, they're both destined to open the season in the Minors. The Padres have a six-man logjam at the Major League level, and it's hard to envision any of these invites supplanting them for playing time. Still, the front office was happy to retain Dickerson, who broke out in 2016, but missed the '17 and '18 seasons after elbow and back surgeries.

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

San Diego Padres, Fernando Tatis Jr.

Here's why a 3-team Kluber deal could happen

Breaking down report of potential trade between Tribe, Reds, Padres
MLB.com

The Reds need a starting pitcher. The Padres are looking for a third baseman. The Indians would like to add outfielders. Could there be a match that would help all three clubs?

The Athletic reported on Monday that the Padres had explored a potential three-team trade between the clubs that would send ace starter Corey Kluber from Cleveland to Cincinnati, with Reds top prospect and infielder Nick Senzel going to San Diego. It was not reported who the Indians might acquire, although the team needs outfielders, which the Padres have to deal.

The Reds need a starting pitcher. The Padres are looking for a third baseman. The Indians would like to add outfielders. Could there be a match that would help all three clubs?

The Athletic reported on Monday that the Padres had explored a potential three-team trade between the clubs that would send ace starter Corey Kluber from Cleveland to Cincinnati, with Reds top prospect and infielder Nick Senzel going to San Diego. It was not reported who the Indians might acquire, although the team needs outfielders, which the Padres have to deal.

The report noted that no deal was close to being finalized.

Why the trade could work
The Reds, who have been trying to overhaul their rotation all offseason, already acquired starters Tanner Roark and Alex Wood in trades. Both are solid middle-of-the-rotation pieces, but Cincinnati could still use someone for the top of the starting five. Enter Kluber, the two-time American League Cy Young Award winner and the kind of frontline starter the Reds haven't had since dealing Johnny Cueto in 2015. The club, which has space with an increased payroll, has been linked to Kluber in various rumors throughout the Hot Stove season.

Kluber, 32, has one guaranteed year left on his contract, with club options for 2020 and '21. If both options are picked up, the total outlay for his services would be $52.5 million. It's a lot of money for a small-market club, but it's also not a risky long-term contract that would hamstring the Reds for the future.

Video: Tribe, Padres, Reds exploring 3-team deal for Kluber?

Senzel, who is ranked as the Reds' No. 1 prospect (No. 6 overall) by MLB Pipeline, is a natural third baseman and can also play second base and the outfield. He is currently blocked from a starting spot in the infield by third baseman Eugenio Suarez and second baseman Scooter Gennett, but he will be competing for the opening in center field.

The Indians and Padres have had a good working relationship, with their last transaction coming in July when Cleveland acquired relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. The Tribe is looking for young outfielders who are cost-controlled and can make an impact in 2019 and beyond. Last month, the Indians were linked to San Diego outfielders Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe, both of whom check the majority of the Indians' boxes.

Margot, 24, is under team control through 2022, while Renfroe, 26, wouldn't be a free agent until after the '23 season. Margot is a right-handed-hitting center fielder who slashed .245/.292/.384 with 26 doubles, eight triples, eight homers and 51 RBIs in 2018. Renfroe, a corner outfielder, could bring some much-needed power to the Indians' lineup after hitting .248 with 26 homers and 68 RBIs last season.

Video: Indians might not trade Kluber or Bauer

The Padres have a glut of outfielders, with Wil Myers, Franmil Reyes, Franchy Cordero and Travis Jankowski also on board. They can afford to lose one or both of Renfroe and Margot -- if it means acquiring a third baseman. Right now, unheralded rookie Ty France is slated to start for the Padres at third, though that's likely to change in the coming weeks.

The Indians could also take a look at the Reds, who have plenty of corner-outfield options. Recently acquired Matt Kemp is coming off an All-Star season, hitting .290 with 21 home runs and 85 RBIs. Although Kemp could give the Tribe another option in both the outfield and as a designated hitter, the Indians may prefer younger, cost-controlled talent. The 34-year-old is owed $21.75 million in 2019, though a portion of the Dodgers' $7 million that was sent to the Reds in last month's blockbuster deal will help pay that salary. But the team already has shed roughly $20 million from the payroll and also would be dealing away Kluber's $17 million, so it could be an option.

Why the trade might not work
Because of Senzel's near Major League-ready skills that include an advanced hitting approach, the Reds would likely be apprehensive about moving him. For the Padres, they will probably take a long look at his medical files as Senzel was limited to 44 games at Triple-A last season because of a bout with vertigo in May and a fractured right index finger in June that required season-ending surgery. During instructional league in the fall, he had to stop playing to have bone chips removed from his left elbow.

The Indians may decide they just don't need to deal Kluber, a rotation anchor for three straight postseason teams. The main reason his name came up in the first place was a perceived need to cut costs, and they've already done that this winter -- shedding about $20 million in dealing Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso and Yan Gomes. Because of this, the Tribe could simply keep its rotation intact. Cleveland has been listening to potential offers for both Kluber and Trevor Bauer throughout the offseason, but it has a specific return in mind that clearly has yet to be met. In order to part ways with its ace, the club would have to receive enough talent to meet the high bar it has set for Kluber.

Video: Cassavell on the Padres' search for a starter

A trade could still happen, but maybe not with the Reds. Another option for both the Padres and the Indians would be giving the Yankees a call to see where they stand on Miguel Andujar. With the Padres looking for a third baseman, the 23-year-old Andujar, who finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting, may be another option. The Yankees are still looking to deal Sonny Gray, and with CC Sabathia's recent heart procedure and ongoing troubles with his right knee, it would seem logical that New York would be interested in adding another arm, especially of Kluber's caliber. The Yankees also have outfielders Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks or reliever Chad Green who could be of interest to the Indians.

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.

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

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, Corey Kluber, Nick Senzel

Tatis hits walk-off HR, follows with huge bat flip

Top Padres prospect delivers big blow in Dominican Winter League playoff win
MLB.com

In the near future, Fernando Tatis Jr. could be hitting massive homers for the Padres. But for now, he's continuing to rake in the Dominican Winter League.

Playing for Estrellas Orientales, Tatis hit a walk-off three-run home run on Thursday night, lifting his team to a 6-3 postseason win over Tigres del Licey. The Padres' No. 1 prospect knew it was gone as soon as he hit it, as he unleashed a huge bat flip, tossing his lumber toward the first-base dugout.

In the near future, Fernando Tatis Jr. could be hitting massive homers for the Padres. But for now, he's continuing to rake in the Dominican Winter League.

Playing for Estrellas Orientales, Tatis hit a walk-off three-run home run on Thursday night, lifting his team to a 6-3 postseason win over Tigres del Licey. The Padres' No. 1 prospect knew it was gone as soon as he hit it, as he unleashed a huge bat flip, tossing his lumber toward the first-base dugout.

Tweet from @LIDOMRD: ��Briiiiillaaan! 🔥🌟🔥🌟Cuadrangular de @tatis_jr que le da la victoria a @EOBASEBALLCLUB 💪Cortes��a de @AFPSiembra pic.twitter.com/AdSSwndzL0

With the game tied at 3, Gustavo Nunez and Junior Lake led off the bottom of the ninth inning with consecutive singles off Jairo Asencio. Tatis followed with his third home run during the Dominican Winter League round-robin playoffs, which leads all hitters. MLB's No. 2 overall prospect went deep on an 0-2 pitch from Asencio to cap the comeback victory.

Tatis went 2-for-5 with four RBIs and a run scored. He also collected an RBI single in the third inning.

In addition to leading all batters in the Dominican Winter League playoffs in homers, Tatis also leads all hitters in RBIs (10), slugging percentage (.518), extra-base hits (six), runs (12) and triples (two). He also has four stolen bases in 15 games, while batting .268/.379/.518.

After leading the Dominican Winter League with a 29-21 record during the regular season, Estrellas Orientales is 9-6 during the round-robin playoffs, which is tied for first with Toros del Este.

During the Minor League season in 2018, Tatis batted .286/.355/.507 with 16 home runs over 88 games for Double-A San Antonio. His year was cut short after he underwent season-ending thumb surgery in mid-July. But the top prospect is certainly making up for the lost time with his impressive winter league campaign.

Jake Rill is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix.

San Diego Padres, Fernando Tatis Jr.

Inbox: What's path for Paddack to Majors?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell fields offseason questions from fans
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- It's the holiday season. That means one final Padres Inbox for 2018.

Some important questions linger as the New Year awaits, most of them revolving around the trajectories of some top prospects.

SAN DIEGO -- It's the holiday season. That means one final Padres Inbox for 2018.

Some important questions linger as the New Year awaits, most of them revolving around the trajectories of some top prospects.

Is Chris Paddack on the same path to the bigs as Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi?
-- Michael H., Albuquerque, N.M.

Yes. And no. Paddack, like Lauer and Lucchesi, is on the fast track to the Majors, and he'll probably arrive sooner than we all expect. There are openings in the rotation, and the 22-year-old right-hander has some of the best stuff in the entire system. He's ranked as the club's No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

But once he's there, I wouldn't expect Paddack to be treated the same way as Lauer and Lucchesi were last season. Paddack had Tommy John surgery in 2016 and is still building his innings count. He threw only 90 last season before he was shut down early.

When Paddack arrives, he's probably not going to work deep into September. I'd expect a cycle where he receives a few starts, then he's optioned back to Triple-A, so his workload can be limited. The Padres expect big things from Paddack, but there's no reason to push him too hard in 2019.

:: Submit a question to the Padres Inbox ::

Which Padres outfielder has drawn the most interest from other clubs? Who is in the Majors first from among Paddack, Logan Allen and Cal Quantrill, and do any make the team out of spring?
-- @MeeorxMox

Sneaky. A two-part question. First, let's stay on the topic of the rotation.

I'd be surprised if anyone beats left-hander Logan Allen to the big leagues. He's proven himself at every level of the Minors, and he's built up innings-wise. If anyone's on the April callup path of Lauer and Lucchesi, it's Allen. He's going to have every opportunity to make the rotation in camp, though he's probably currently on the outside looking in.

As for the outfield, I don't think there's a singular answer. Different teams are interested in different guys. Hunter Renfroe's been sought-after. So has Wil Myers, but it seems like San Diego values him a bit more than some other clubs right now. But for all the talk of the Padres' desire to trade from their corner-outfield depth, it's worth noting that teams have called to discuss Manuel Margot as well.

Margot is 24 and has a high ceiling as a center fielder with elite speed and defense. It's going to take a lot to pry him from San Diego. But his upside could make him a nice piece to include in a trade for a top-tier starter like, say, Noah Syndergaard.

How can you tell if Andy Green is good at what he does? I mean, really, how can we know?
-- John S., San Diego

I've wrestled with this question for the entirety of Green's tenure as skipper. I think he does a lot of good things, but I honestly can't give an overall assessment until we've seen him with a roster that's capable of making a push toward the playoffs. In three years, he hasn't had that yet -- and he probably won't in 2019 either.

For instance, I think Green does a very good job of managing his bullpen. His relievers, it seems, are never put in position to fail. (Their numbers reflect that.) But he's also managed three teams with 90-plus losses. How would his bullpen tactics hold up in a pennant race, where some of his pitchers would be prone to overuse? I can't answer that.

Right now, the benchmark for Green as a manager is progress. It felt like the Padres made progress in 2017 before taking a significant step back last season. In that regard, '19 feels like an incredibly important year -- for the organization as a whole and for Green. If he can direct the Padres toward .500, while helping a handful of prospects acclimate to the big leagues, the club could be poised for a run at contention in 2020. Then, we'd finally get a feel for how Green's game strategy and clubhouse management would play in a pennant-race environment.

Who's the Opening Day shortstop?
-- William L., Katy, Texas

Could Ty France be the Opening Day third baseman?
-- Josh, Escondido

Two questions in one: Who's starting on the left side of the infield? A few Inboxes ago, I gave Opening Day shortstop odds, but those have changed. With the addition of Ian Kinsler, there's a better than 50 percent chance that Luis Urias slides to short to start the season, with Kinsler at second.

That's not written in stone. The Padres are still looking for another infielder. If they add a shortstop, Urias could stay at second with Kinsler sliding to third base. Kinsler is going to get reps at third in Spring Training, no matter what.

As for France, he seems like the fallback option at third if the club can't find another infielder. (And if Myers is moved back to the outfield full time or traded). In that case, it might be safe to expect a platoon between the righty-hitting France and one of the club's lefty-hitting infield options. Greg Garcia, for example, has been dreadful against lefties but owns some solid career splits against right-handers. Envision this for an April infield plan, while the club awaits the arrival of top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr.:

Vs. RHP: Urias 2B; Garcia SS, Kinsler (or LHH Jason Vosler or LHH Esteban Quiroz) 3B
Vs. LHP: Kinsler 2B, Urias SS, France 3B

This, of course, is only a short-term solution to bridge the gap to Tatis, and it might be the best way to ease the burden on Urias, giving him time at both second and short.

Anyway, back to the original question: France as the Opening Day third baseman? Well, France posted an .861 OPS against lefties last season, and the Padres are expected to face Madison Bumgarner on March 28 at Petco Park. So don't rule it out.

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

San Diego Padres

SD ready to give Tatis, Urias leeway to develop

Green expects bumps in the road as prospects acclimate to MLB
MLB.com

LAS VEGAS -- No doubt, the Padres are justified in their excitement for Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias. They're the top-ranked prospects at shortstop and second base, respectively, according to MLB Pipeline, and they're expected to man the middle of the diamond at Petco Park for a long time.

But this much is also true: Tatis and Urias are 19 and 21 years old, respectively. They're going to get significant playing time in 2019, but they're also going to experience growing pains. The Padres want to make sure the burden isn't too heavy on either of them.

LAS VEGAS -- No doubt, the Padres are justified in their excitement for Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias. They're the top-ranked prospects at shortstop and second base, respectively, according to MLB Pipeline, and they're expected to man the middle of the diamond at Petco Park for a long time.

But this much is also true: Tatis and Urias are 19 and 21 years old, respectively. They're going to get significant playing time in 2019, but they're also going to experience growing pains. The Padres want to make sure the burden isn't too heavy on either of them.

Manager Andy Green spoke with the media on Wednesday in his yearly address at the Winter Meetings. He touched on a number of topics -- with his deep farm system at the top of the list. The status of Tatis and Urias became a recurring theme.

• Padres' Top 30 Prospects list

"Both those guys, their minds work, they understand the game," said Green. "They're going to be great, in time, and they're going to have to earn opportunities. Those opportunities are real in front of both of those guys."

Video: Preller on Tatis Jr. and strong farm system

The two young middle infielders are on slightly different trajectories. Urias is currently the projected starter at second base after he debuted last September. He batted .208 in 12 games before his season ended due to a left hamstring pull. (Urias still hasn't fully recovered, but he's expected to be healthy by the start of camp.)

Tatis, meanwhile, is the sport's No. 2 ranked prospect overall. He missed the final two months of the regular season after thumb surgery. But he's making up for lost time in the Dominican Winter League, where he's hitting .265/.383/.485.

"They show up with the weight of expectations," Green said. "... I think we've done a nice job in the Minor Leagues of preparing guys mentally for that when they arrive in the big leagues."

Video: Fernando Tatis Jr. ranked No. 2 prospect by MLB.com

It seems unlikely Tatis makes the Opening Day roster, given service-time concerns and the fact that he's only spent half a season at Double-A. But if everything goes according to plan, he could spend three-quarters of the season in San Diego.

Of course, playing shortstop in the Majors is a tall task for any new arrival -- let alone a 20-year-old who has hardly played above Double-A. The Padres are exploring a reunion with Freddy Galvis (and possibly temporarily moving Tatis to third base). But it seems likelier Tatis remains at short and gets his chance after a month or two with Triple-A El Paso.

"We're going to be OK with some of the mistakes of a 20-year-old playing short at the Major League level," Green said, acknowledging the reality of the situation.

Of course the Padres are going to be OK with those mistakes. They spent a decade searching for a long-term shortstop solution, after all. They finally feel as though they've found it.

Video: Cassavell on the excitement around Tatis Jr.

Green eyes rotation creativity
The Padres remain in the market for starting-pitching help, having finished with the highest rotation ERA in the National League in 2018. They also don't feel as though they need to force any trades or signings this winter.

If the Padres stand pat, they'd have some serious questions when the season begins. None of the five spots in their rotation are guaranteed, though Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi each appear to have a leg up.

Video: ARI@SD: Lucchesi fans 8 in final start of the season

"We're looking at Lucchesi, Lauer, guys who did a lot of good things for us last year, and then some open competition," Green said.

That competition could feature some creative options. The club is trying to stretch Matt Strahm into a starting role after his excellent season in the bullpen. But if he can't handle the workload, Strahm is still an option to serve in a shortened starting role, where'd he'd pitch three innings or so before ceding the mound to another reliever.

Strahm did that on five occasions last season, but it could become a more regular occurrence this year. Robert Stock is another option to start games in a one-time-through-the-order capacity.

Video: SD@SF: Strahm gets McCutchen looking to end the 1st

In fact, the Padres seem very open to any and all rotation possibilities. They could use an opener. They could call up some prospects -- perhaps Logan Allen or Cal Quantrill -- earlier than expected and shuttle them between Triple-A and the Majors. They could go the traditional route and hold a competition for the final three rotation places.

"The dust will settle on our roster construction here, hopefully in the next couple weeks," Green said. "Then we'll have a better idea how we can use the guys we have in the rotation in a productive way for us to be great. I don't think anything's off the table for us."

Noteworthy
• Green mused that first baseman Eric Hosmer might bounce back from his rough Padres debut in 2018 following a normal offseason's worth of work. New infielders coach Damion Easley recently flew to Florida to work with Hosmer.

"Eric is the type of guy that is really crushing it from a hitting perspective, working incredibly hard and real excited to be getting after it defensively," Green said. "I think Damion is going to be a terrific partner with him and draw things out in him and expect him to get better.

"He's most excited, in my time talking to him, about having a normal offseason. Last season was anything but that, where he's getting paraded around in the free-agency game and waiting to land in a place. He basically landed with us the first day of Spring Training last year."

Video: Preller discusses Hosmer, prospect depth

• Asked his thoughts on the possibility that Major League Baseball might institute a rule change banning or limiting the shift, Green didn't express much of an opinion either way. According to FanGraphs, the Padres shifted on 5.01 batters per game last season, the third fewest in the Majors.

"I'm not that concerned that if you take the shift off we're not going to be able to create a competitive advantage," Green said. "Everybody is playing by those rules. Some people might have a real strong passion, but the game is effectively going to be the same."

• As things stand, the Padres are set for a fierce spring competition at catcher between Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia, with the more experienced Hedges as the early favorite. Who is Green's starter right now?

"That's the beauty of Dec. 12," he said. "I don't have to decide that right now."

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

San Diego Padres, Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Urias

SD clears 40-man space with 3 deals; 4 DFA'd

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' youth movement, which recently turned a depleted farm system into the best in baseball, made a dent into the big league roster on Tuesday afternoon.

General manager A.J. Preller needed to clear space for seven prospects to be added to the 40-man roster, lest they be exposed to next month's Rule 5 Draft. He got creative in doing so, parting with a handful of veterans.

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' youth movement, which recently turned a depleted farm system into the best in baseball, made a dent into the big league roster on Tuesday afternoon.

General manager A.J. Preller needed to clear space for seven prospects to be added to the 40-man roster, lest they be exposed to next month's Rule 5 Draft. He got creative in doing so, parting with a handful of veterans.

The Padres traded a trio of right-handers on Tuesday and designated four players for assignment, including Christian Villanueva and Cory Spangenberg.

• Villanueva DFA'd, could move to Japan

They did so in order for the following seven prospects to be added to the 40-man roster:

• RHP Chris Paddack (Padres' No. 5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline)
• RHP Anderson Espinoza (No. 12)
• C Austin Allen (No. 25)
• OF Edward Olivares (No. 28)
• RHP Pedro Avila (No. 29)
• 3B Ty France (unranked)
• RHP Gerardo Reyes (unranked)

None of those players were particularly surprising additions. Their status on the 40-man means they won't be eligible to be picked in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 13 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, where longtime Minor Leaguers can be selected by other clubs but must remain on the big league roster all season or be offered back to their original team.

The five top-30 prospects listed above were always likely to be added to the roster. All five would've been projected as early Rule 5 selections if they were left exposed.

Video: Top Prospects: Chris Paddack, RHP, Padres

France and Reyes, too, would've been candidates to be taken. France hit 22 homers last season between Double-A and Triple-A, and he could compete for the job at third base after Villanueva's departure. Reyes, meanwhile, posted a 2.77 ERA and a 29-percent strikeout rate last year and could've easily been stashed in a rival's bullpen if left unprotected.

"There was a real chance he'd get taken if we left him unprotected," Preller said. "You don't want to see that kind of stuff, that kind of velo, from a guy with a lower slot, leave. He keeps getting more consistent. He was a guy we didn't want to risk losing in a Rule 5 situation."

Among the Padres prospects who will be available in next month's Rule 5 Draft are righties Hansel Rodriguez and Trevor Megill and outfielder Michael Gettys. Rodriguez, who was acquired for Melvin Upton Jr. in 2016, was recently shut down in the Arizona Fall League due to olecranon stress reaction issues in his elbow, though the club doesn't believe surgery will be required.

As for the seven players subtracted from the 40-man, here's a look at the moves Preller made to clear some space:

Right-hander Colten Brewer traded to Boston for infielder Esteban Quiroz

Brewer found himself on the roster bubble in a crowded Padres bullpen. He might have cracked the 40-man if not for the trade. But the Padres like what they're getting in Quiroz, so they decided to deal Brewer, a high-spin right-hander who posted a 5.59 ERA in 11 big league appearances last year. Quiroz, a utility infielder, spent most of his career playing in Mexico, but he posted a .283/.406/.547 slash line in the Red Sox system last year, mostly at Double-A.

"He just hits," Preller said. "He hits everywhere he's been. We had a lot of eyes on him in the Fall League, a lot of people that saw him there. He was a guy that's continued to perform, and it's hard to find left-handed bats at the upper levels of the Minor Leagues that can take a walk and do damage."

Right-hander Walker Lockett traded to Cleveland for right-hander Ignacio Feliz

Lockett was always a likely casualty of the roster crunch, and the Padres were pleased with their return for the 24-year-old right-hander. Feliz made 10 starts for the Indians in the Arizona Rookie League, and the 19-year-old posted a 3.00 ERA.

"It's a good arm at the lower levels of the Minor Leagues," Preller said. "We felt like he was a really good get, and he's another guy who we have time in our system to develop and grow and give him a chance to perform."

Lockett spent most of last season at Triple-A El Paso, but he made four big league appearances and allowed 16 runs in 15 innings.

Right-hander Rowan Wick traded to the Cubs for infielder Jason Vosler

Wick, like Brewer, had a case to remain on the 40-man if he weren't dealt. But the Padres landed a high-upside infielder in Vosler, who slugged 23 homers between Double-A and Triple-A in the Cubs' system last year. He batted .251/.340/.467, while playing first, second and third base, and he'll go into camp with a chance to compete for a utility role on the Opening Day roster.

Wick, meanwhile, posted a 6.48 ERA over 10 appearances in his big league-debut season in 2018.

3B Villanueva, IF Spangenberg, RHP Colin Rea and SS Allen Cordoba designated for assignment

Rea and Cordoba hardly qualify as surprises. Both dealt with serious injury issues in 2018. Cordoba, a former Rule 5 selection himself, missed the first half of the year with a concussion, and when he returned, he didn't play a game above Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore. Rea, meanwhile, hasn't been the same since his '16 Tommy John surgery, and he posted a 5.73 ERA in the Minors this year.

As for Villanueva, he appears destined for Japan. The Padres intend to sell his contract rights to a team in Japan, likely the Yomiuri Giants, according to sources. That move opens the Padres' third-base job even more. At this point, it's a near certainty they add another infielder this offseason.

Meanwhile, Spangenberg was due a raise in his second year of arbitration. In all likelihood, that was the driving force behind the Padres' decision to cut ties with him and not fellow infielders Carlos Asuaje and Jose Pirela. Preller, however, refuted that notion. 

"We feel like we have other options and other possibilities that fit a little bit better, some younger players we're going to give opportunity to," Preller said. "He gets a fresh start and a chance to go outside and do something different. From a numbers standpoint, we just felt like we had other options we felt were better fits for our ballclub and our roster setup. It was a tough decision."

Spangenberg, the Padres' first-round Draft selection in 2011, batted .258/.318/.391 in five seasons with the club. But his on-base percentage dipped below .300 in '18, and there wasn't going to be much playing time available in '19 with infield prospects Luis Urias and Fernando Tatis Jr. eventually in the mix.

On the whole, the seven additions and subtractions mean the club's 40-man roster remains full. Further trades or signings of big league players would require other players be removed from the roster.

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

San Diego Padres, Pedro Avila, Allen Cordoba, Anderson Espinoza, Edward Olivares, Chris Paddack, Colin Rea, Gerardo Reyes, Cory Spangenberg, Christian Villanueva

3 prospects from '18 Draft starting strong

San Diego Padres

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

As long as a player puts on a professional uniform, the dream of reaching the Major Leagues can come true.

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

As long as a player puts on a professional uniform, the dream of reaching the Major Leagues can come true.

Just ask Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza. He was the Dodgers' 62nd-round pick in the 1988 draft.

There are no longer more than 60 rounds to the annual MLB Draft. But there are still lower-round picks.

Three position players -- infielders Lee Solomon and Sean Guilbe and outfielder Jawuan Harris -- taken by the Padres outside the first five rounds of the 2018 Draft put themselves on the radar this summer with strong starts in Arizona.

The trio of right-handed hitters now rank among the top 90 prospects in the Padres' system. A deeper look at the three:

- Harris was the Padres' seventh-round pick (201st overall) out of Rutgers University in New Jersey. Harris, 22, was a two-sport star at Rutgers -- a center fielder in baseball and a safety in football after being recruited as a wide receiver.

A 5-foot-9, 195-pound native of Pembroke Pines, Fla., Harris spent his first professional summer in the Arizona Rookie League.

Although he hit only .225 (36-for-160), Harris drew 29 walks and finished with a .360 on-base percentage over 49 games. He also stole 14 bases and had seven doubles, four triples and three homers for a .375 slugging percentage and .735 OPS. He scored 23 runs with 20 RBIs.

- Guilbe was the Padres' 12th-round pick out of Muhlenberg High School in Reading, Pa. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound second baseman played 40 games in Arizona after signing.

Like Harris, Guilbe had some interesting splits in his first professional summer. He finished with a .218 batting average (29-for-133) and struck out 62 times, but he also drew 40 walks for a .409 on-base percentage and had 10 doubles, a triple and five homers for a .421 slugging percentage resulting in a .830 OPS.

Guilbe scored 19 runs and drove in 15 runs with six steals.

- Solomon, the Padres' 25th-round draft pick out of Lipscomb University in Tennessee, had the most successful all-around summer of the trio. The 5-foot-10, 202-pound second baseman spent the summer with the Padres-1 in Arizona while the younger Guilbe played the same position for the Padres-2.

Solomon hit .298 (45-for-151) in 41 games with eight doubles, two triples and seven home runs with 27 runs scored and 30 RBIs. He also drew 15 walks with six steals. Solomon had a .365 slugging percentage and a .517 slugging percentage for a .882 OPS.

San Diego Padres

Who will Padres protect from Rule 5 Draft?

With MLB's best farm system, SD will have tough 40-man decisions
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' Rule 5 Draft intentions have changed drastically in the past three years.

In 2015 and '16, they combined to select seven players from the rosters of other teams during the Rule 5 Draft, which is staged each December on the final day of the Winter Meetings. This year, they boast MLB Pipeline's top-rated farm system, and a handful of their prospects must be added to the 40-man roster -- or they'll be at risk of being selected by another club.

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' Rule 5 Draft intentions have changed drastically in the past three years.

In 2015 and '16, they combined to select seven players from the rosters of other teams during the Rule 5 Draft, which is staged each December on the final day of the Winter Meetings. This year, they boast MLB Pipeline's top-rated farm system, and a handful of their prospects must be added to the 40-man roster -- or they'll be at risk of being selected by another club.

"From our own standpoint of protecting players, that's ratcheted up a little bit," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller.

The deadline to add those prospects looms on Tuesday. The Padres currently have a full roster, but it shouldn't be all that difficult to clear space for a handful of youngsters.

To be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, a player must have gone through five Minors seasons without being added to the 40-man roster -- or four if they were signed at age 19 or older. If a player is selected in the Rule 5 Draft, he must remain with his new Major League club for an entire season or be offered back to his original team.

Here's a breakdown of the most notable Rule 5 eligible players in the Padres' system.

Chris Paddack
No. 5 prospect, 22-year-old right-hander
Status: Expected to be added to 40-man roster

There's no easier decision than this one. Paddack is one of the fastest-rising pitching prospects in baseball. Between Class A Advanced and Double-A last season, he recorded a mind-boggling 120 strikeouts to just eight walks while notching a 2.10 ERA. Paddack will be invited to big league camp and is expected to debut at some point in 2019. But after missing the '17 season due to Tommy John surgery, he'll be limited again, innings-wise.

Video: Top Prospects: Chris Paddack, RHP, Padres

Anderson Espinoza
No. 12 prospect, 20-year-old right-hander
Status: Expected to be added to 40-man roster

Espinoza still hasn't pitched above Class A, and he missed the entire 2018 season because of Tommy John surgery. He's scheduled to face hitters for the first time in Spring Training, and it's not a guarantee that another club would take a shot on him in next month's Rule 5 Draft. The Padres probably aren't going to give those clubs a chance. Espinoza's upside is too great, and on a roster that won 66 big league games last season, it shouldn't be hard to find room for him.

Video: Padres Prospect: Anderson Espinoza

Austin Allen
No. 25 prospect, 24-year-old catcher
Status: Expected to be added to 40-man roster

The Padres are already talking as though Allen is a part of their 40-man roster. Said Preller last week: "At the catcher position, it's a hard spot to find talent, and we have three really good ones." That's Austin Hedges, Francisco Mejia and Allen. In the long term, it could be hard to find playing time for Allen (unless Hedges or Mejia gets dealt). Allen is an excellent hitter, but his defense has always lagged behind a bit. For now, however, Allen is a lock to be added to the 40-man, and he'll most likely open the season at Triple-A El Paso.

Video: Austin Allen on improving in Arizona Fall League

Edward Olivares
No. 28 prospect, 22-year-old outfielder
Status: Likely to be added to 40-man roster

Olivares landed with the Padres in the deal that sent Yangervis Solarte to Toronto. It's hard to see San Diego risking his departure. Olivares hit .277/.321/.429 with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore this season. He's still a long way from being big league ready, but, again, the Padres almost certainly have room for him.

Pedro Avila
No. 29 prospect, 21-year-old right-hander
Status: Questionable, could be added to 40-man roster

With Avila, we're getting into question-mark territory. No doubt, the Padres like his stuff -- particularly a pair of swing-and-miss offspeed offerings. But he notched a 4.27 ERA at Lake Elsinore with far too many walks. If he's left unprotected, it's worth wondering whether another club would swoop in.

Hansel Rodriguez
Unranked, 21-year-old right-hander
Status: Questionable, could be added to 40-man roster

Rodriguez, who was traded straight up for Melvin Upton Jr. in 2016, has only made eight appearances at Class A Advanced, and he was recently shut down in the Arizona Fall League because of olecranon stress reaction issues in his elbow. The club doesn't believe surgery will be required. But given the injury -- and his 4.36 career ERA over five Minor League seasons -- it's hard to envision a team taking a flier on Rodriguez for their big league roster. (Of course, Preller himself has taken similar chances in the past.)

Ty France
Unranked, 24-year-old third baseman
Status: Questionable, could be added to 40-man roster

A year ago, the Padres left their Minors home run leader unprotected for the Rule 5 Draft. Now, there are about 29 other clubs who could use the services of Franmil Reyes, after Reyes put forth a brilliant rookie season out of nowhere. That's all to say: Leaving France unprotected could amount to the same thing. The San Diego State product batted .267/.355/.464 last season with 22 homers between Double-A and Triple-A. The Padres need to ask themselves whether his bat will translate at the next level.

Trevor Megill
Unranked, 24-year-old right-hander
Status: Questionable, could be added to 40-man roster

There could be a spot for Megill on a big league roster -- if a team were willing to stash him at the back of a bullpen. He posted a 3.35 ERA between Lake Elsinore and San Antonio last season, and his fastball sits in the mid-90s. Now it's just a matter of whether the Padres would sacrifice a player currently on the 40-man to protect him.

Other notable Rule 5 eligible players: 1B Kyle Overstreet, 1B Brad Zunica, OF Michael Gettys, LHP Travis Radke, RHP Gerardo Reyes

Reyes might be the most intriguing of this group. The 25-year-old righty reliever posted a 29 percent strikeout rate in the Minors last season, and another club might be willing to take a shot (if the Padres aren't.) As for Gettys, a one-time top-15 prospect for the club, he's fallen off quite a bit. Gettys has always been an excellent defender, but he's striking out at a 35 percent clip in the Minors, and he's not adding nearly enough power to justify his addition to the roster.

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

San Diego Padres

Tatis hits homer in first Winter League at-bat

The Padres' No. 1 prospect hadn't played since thumb surgery in July
MLB.com

Fernando Tatis Jr. returned to game action and made an immediate impact for Estrellas de Oriente on Wednesday.

The Padres' No. 1 prospect hadn't played since injuring his thumb while playing with Double-A San Antonio on July 19. But he wasted no time showing off his 60-grade power, as he homered on the first pitch of his first at-bat in the Dominican Winter League.

Fernando Tatis Jr. returned to game action and made an immediate impact for Estrellas de Oriente on Wednesday.

The Padres' No. 1 prospect hadn't played since injuring his thumb while playing with Double-A San Antonio on July 19. But he wasted no time showing off his 60-grade power, as he homered on the first pitch of his first at-bat in the Dominican Winter League.

Tweet from @EOBASEBALLCLUB: Por si te lo perdiste. Cuadrangular de Fernando Tatis Jr, debutando, al primer pitcheo. #JuntosPodemos #ElNi��o pic.twitter.com/4yR3WSGlvt

Tatis, 19, struck out in his next at-bat and finished 1-for-2 after drawing a pair of walks.

MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect fractured his thumb while sliding head first into second base on a steal attempt and missed the rest of the season after undergoing surgery in late July. Prior to the injury, Tatis hit .286/.355/.507 in 88 games.

Tatis got off to a slow start, hitting .177 in April, but he quickly got on a hot streak, hitting .336 in May, .330 in June and .295 in July.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

San Diego Padres

Padres to be active ahead of Rule 5 deadline

Club must clear space on 40-man roster or risk losing prospects
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Whether the transactions are major or minor, the Padres are going to be active over the next week. They have to be.

An important deadline looms on Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. PT. San Diego must add a handful of its top prospects to the 40-man roster, or they'll be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft in December.

SAN DIEGO -- Whether the transactions are major or minor, the Padres are going to be active over the next week. They have to be.

An important deadline looms on Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. PT. San Diego must add a handful of its top prospects to the 40-man roster, or they'll be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft in December.

But the Padres already have a full 40-man roster, meaning something has to give. Half a dozen or so big leaguers could be designated for assignment in the next 10 days.

"We were obviously focused on some big-picture items in the past month," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. "But we're also focused on some smaller deals, smaller moves, so it ends up at the end of the day that we have a strong roster, 1 to 40, and we make the most use of our resources here."

Among MLB Pipeline's top 30 prospects, here's who is not protected:

• No. 5 Chris Paddack, RHP
• No. 12 Anderson Espinoza, RHP
• No. 25 Austin Allen, C
• No. 28 Edward Olivares, OF
• No. 29 Pedro Avila, RHP

Video: Top Prospects: Anderson Espinoza, RHP, Padres

A handful of prospects outside the top 30 are candidates to be added as well, including Ty France, Trevor Megill and Hansel Rodriguez.

Of course, the Padres went 66-96 last season, and given those struggles, it probably shouldn't be too difficult to clear space. Among the players on the roster bubble:

Walker Lockett, RHP
Colin Rea, RHP
Luis Torrens, C
Carlos Asuaje, 2B
Jose Pirela, 2B
Allen Cordoba, IF
Javy Guerra, SS

Those seven aren't the only candidates for designations before the deadline, but all seven have given the Padres a reason to potentially cut the cord.

Lockett and Guerra weren't all that good in the Minors last season, but both were given a brief big league opportunity and struggled.

Asuaje and Pirela also floundered in 2018, and they could give way to the youth movement on the Padres' infield. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias appear set to take over the middle spots. (Plus, last week's addition of Greg Garcia drops Asuaje and Pirela on the depth chart.)

Video: Preller on Padres' development goals for 2019

Torrens and Cordoba -- once Rule 5 selections themselves -- are far from big league ready. And Rea simply hasn't been the same since his 2016 Tommy John surgery. He posted a 5.73 ERA in the Minors this year.

Of course, there are other ways to clear roster space. The Padres traded catcher Raffy Lopez to Atlanta this month for cash or a player to be named. Lopez was unlikely to be retained in the first place.

In that same light, the Padres' front office has been active in trying to find trade partners for some of its would-be roster casualties. Preller has insisted the cuts haven't been decided upon.

"It's fluid," Preller said. "It's honestly a day-to-day thing. We've already made a couple roster-cleanup-type moves. There's been plenty of discussion in the last month."

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

San Diego Padres

Padres' Reed wins MVP of Fall Stars Game

No. 13 prospect hits game-tying triple, scores winning run
MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Buddy Reed's breakout season was derailed a bit when he was promoted to Double-A, but the outfielder got back on track in Arizona, where he has starred offensively.

Reed has been hitting well in the Arizona Fall League and, despite striking out in his first two at-bats of the Fall Stars Game on Saturday at Surprise Stadium, the Padres' No. 13 prospect came through with a game-tying triple in the bottom of the ninth, scored the game-winning run and was named the MVP after the West won, 7-6.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Buddy Reed's breakout season was derailed a bit when he was promoted to Double-A, but the outfielder got back on track in Arizona, where he has starred offensively.

Reed has been hitting well in the Arizona Fall League and, despite striking out in his first two at-bats of the Fall Stars Game on Saturday at Surprise Stadium, the Padres' No. 13 prospect came through with a game-tying triple in the bottom of the ninth, scored the game-winning run and was named the MVP after the West won, 7-6.

:: 2018 Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game ::

"It was down and a little out," Reed said of the pitch he hit for a triple. "I put a good swing on it, Justin [Lawrence] pitched his butt off. I had to choke up because he's a little uncomfortable for me, just throwing 98 to 100 [mph] with sink. So I just choked up and tried to put a good swing on it."

Reed lined an RBI triple to center field that Luis Barrera appeared to have a play on, but the Athletics' prospect crashed into the wall and was unable to make the play.

"I thought it was a homer," Reed said. "Obviously it wasn't, but I just wanted to put a good swing on it."

One batter later, Meibrys Viloria brought Reed home with a walk-off single.

Video: EAST@WEST: Viloria caps comeback with walk-off hit

The MVP Award comes in the middle of what has been an impressive AFL season for Reed.

Reed, a 2016 second-round pick, has hit .375 through 12 games in Arizona and had multi-hit efforts in three of his past four games prior to the Fall Stars Game.

While Reed's fall has been impressive, his season was inconsistent. After slashing .324/.371/.549 through 79 games with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore, Reed was promoted to Double-A San Antonio, where he hit .179/.227/.235 to finish the season.

Reed has noted that his approach got away from him a bit in Double-A.

"The Fall League, as a whole, is an awesome experience, playing with the top prospect in every organization," Reed said. "Then coming to the [Fall Stars] Game, you get to see guys like Vlad [Guerrero Jr.], Justin Lawrence in the bottom of the ninth, guys that throw hard and that can do a lot with the bat. It's awesome and I had a great time." 

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

San Diego Padres

Padres prospects deliver in walk-off AFL win

MLB.com

In a back-and-forth game Monday, a pair of Padres prospects delivered at the plate in the Peoria Javelinas' 7-6 walk-off win over the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League.

Third baseman Hudson Potts, San Diego's No. 23 prospect according to MLBPipeline, drove in the game-winning run on a walk-off single, his only hit of the day, scoring Brewers top prospect (No. 30 overall) Keston Hiura.

In a back-and-forth game Monday, a pair of Padres prospects delivered at the plate in the Peoria Javelinas' 7-6 walk-off win over the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League.

Third baseman Hudson Potts, San Diego's No. 23 prospect according to MLBPipeline, drove in the game-winning run on a walk-off single, his only hit of the day, scoring Brewers top prospect (No. 30 overall) Keston Hiura.

"It was a great inning. Hiura started off things great and (Cristian) Pache with a great bunt to move him over," Potts said. "He just threw a first pitch curveball and I put a pretty good swing on it."

• Gameday

The Javelinas trailed 3-0 after the second inning and 6-4 heading into the eighth inning, but they were able to come back both times in the victory. 

"We've played great the whole Fall League. We know we're always in it," Potts said. "We went down a couple of runs in those late innings, but we always have the confidence to always come back."

Potts entered Monday's game batting only .222 after finishing his Minor League season with Double-A San Antonio batting .154.

Despite the numbers, Potts says the Fall League has given him the opportunity to work on his game.

"It's going pretty good," Potts said. "Just working on different things, getting help from my teammates and coaches trying to make the best of the opportunity."

Also adding to the cause Monday was right fielder Buddy Reed, the Padres' No. 13 prospect. Reed finished the game 2-for-4 with a double and a triple, with the biggest knock coming in the fourth inning.

With the bases loaded, Reed smoked a two-run, ground-rule double to deep left center to tie the game at three runs apiece.

It was Reed's third double and his second and third RBIs of the Fall League.

"It was a pretty solid one [performance] I would say," Reed said. "Coming out here early in the morning, getting my reps and work in, coming out here hitting a double and triple, it was fun.

Video: Padres OF prospect Buddy Reed on Fall League reps

"The biggest thing for me is just getting reps, putting good swings on balls and adjusting to the pitching here."

Reed is hoping to improve multiple facets of his game as the Fall League continues.

"Just refining my approach, being a leader, building relationships with these guys out here and just having fun," Reed said. "That's the biggest part about it, it's a game and I like to have fun."

With San Diego ranked as the No. 1 farm system in MLB according to MLB Pipeline, Potts and Reed are both happy to see the Padres' prospects contributing in the Arizona Fall League.

"Buddy had an outstanding game today," Potts said. "It's good to be with a good couple of guys and all the Padres guys that are here. It's fun to be around."

"It's a lot of fun. We got (Dauris) Valdez and (Travis) Radke in the 'pen, we got Austin (Allen) and Huddy, I don't want to leave anybody out but it's a lot of fun," Reed said. "Like I said, there's other teams here so I'm just trying to build relationships with these guys off the field as well."

Sam Ficarro is a senior journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

San Diego Padres