MINOR LEAGUE SYSTEM/PLAYER DEVELOPMENT
The “A” grade here is because the Padres major prospects are showing growth, with very few exceptions. Furthermore, several lesser-known prospects have surprised with accelerated growth this year.
Anderson Espinoza (injury-Tommy John surgery) anchors the list of stalled premium prospects. Yet, that list is short—and one must hope Espinoza will pick up where he left off when healthy. Javier Guerra was stalled, but was generously promoted despite sub-par performance at Lake Elsinore. It seems to have helped restart him. The point here is how short the list of potentially stalled premium prospects in the Padres organization is. The list of those progressing is much longer, Eric Lauer, Luis Urias, Cal Quantrill, Michael Gettys, Josh Naylor, Fernando Tatis Jr., Jacob Nix, Jorge Ona, Logan Allen…all are highly regarded and progressing—albeit at different rates. Dinelson Lamet, Carlos Asuaje, Phil Maton, Jose Pirela and Franchy Cordero have shown flashes of brilliance at the Major League level.
Oh yeah, and there’s that new Gore kid. He’s supposed to be OK.
Then, there are the Padres lesser-known prospects: Jerry Keel, Austin Allen, Joey Lucchesi, Michael Kelly, Michael Baez (REMEMBER THAT NAME), Jesse Scholtens and others—and the Padres system is loaded with potential. There is tremendous, quality depth at nearly every position—except shortstop—something one must hope A.J. Preller will take care of. Padres fans will likely need to wait for Fernando Tatis Jr. to make his debut (likely 2019 at the earliest) to see their shortstop of the future—assuming he continues to progress and stays a shortstop. But, he looks every bit the part right now.
Unlike previous years, the Padres are moving their prospects through the system with prudent dexterity. They seem genuinely interested in getting prospects to the majors someday soon, and the prospects are playing at a level they can be reasonably advanced at a brisk pace.
I came into this year with a wait-and-see approach toward the Padres “process.” I’m still not a believer in the tank…and I’m still watching to see if ownership is selling paint-spill as art. However, I’m beginning to see an impressionist painting of a potential masterpiece. GRADE: A
Coming into this season, I decided to take a “wait and see” approach to “the process,” and the front office’s commitment to winning in my lifetime. I must admit I’m slowly converting. This is for one simple reason: the speed of prospect promotions this season has been much more appropriate and brisk. This signifies a genuine commitment to growing the MLB squad through the farm system. Many Padres fans have uttered the famous excuse, “there’s no need to rush so-and-so,” as prospects languished in the minors as ownership dragged their feet in the name of team control. Brisk promotion isn’t rushing, when it is warranted. What the Padres are doing with Michael Baez, for instance, shows determination.
In 2017, A.J. Preller seems to be moving prospects forward once they prove competency/dominance at their level. As it should be. Patience is a virtue when it’s necessary. It’s also serves as a limp excuse for continued incompetency and/or letting ownership extend suffering of the fan base beyond what’s necessary. There is genuine movement in the farm system. Bravo, Mr. Preller!
On the matter of trades, the pace has slowed virtually to a halt from break-neck speed since A.J. Preller’s suspension. I’m hopeful it’s simply a matter of coincidence and/or roster construction. One would have hoped the A.J. Preller could do more to improve the team than this week’s Mauer-Cahill-Buchter trade over a year’s time. Nevertheless, I believe the Padres got the better of that trade—and typically have during the A.J. Preller era.
As it stands today, the front office deserves credit for being responsive to fans. They have been out in public, granting interviews, speaking frankly (refreshing). This helps rebuild trust with the fan base. However, ticket prices need an adjustment down and resale policies need loosening. Furthermore, the MLB product must be improved without delay. More on that in a future piece. But, overall, ownership deserves credit for having a clear plan, communicating well with the fan base, and continuing to make improvements to Petco Park.
Evaluated against their own self-stated goals, there is undeniable progress toward building a formidable team down the road, if one assumes a willingness to spend on free agents and re-signings. At the same time, ownership needs to continue to demonstrate a commitment to winning at the MLB level at the soonest prudent opportunity. GRADE: B+
In the end, I’d grade all aspects of the team together against the self-stated goals of “the process,” as a grade of “B” overall, trending upward. Right now, the future is more important than the present. That future is bright and coming quickly.
How would you grade the Padres at this point in the process?