The Padres are building for the future. 2016 is a lost cause and with several contracts acting as aircraft carrier sized anchors, 2017 may not be much better. Padres owners has even hinted at the fact they are two years away. That seems reasonable as the team has some legitimate talent, some of which are almost ready.
Unfortunately, the organization still has a way to go before we can truly look at the future with optimism. The sobering reality is the organization is dealing with a dearth of players at certain positions. As a result, here’s what the Padres everyday lineup might look like during the 2018 season. Just for fun.
1. 2B – Cory Spangenberg
The tenth player taken in the 2011 draft has produced at every level of professional baseball. Spangenberg possesses elite speed, plays slightly above average defense at second base and has the potential to turn into a top of the order mainstay. Not only did Spangenberg play 82 games in 2015, he batted .271 and got on base at a .333 clip. If he can improve on those numbers then the Padres will be ecstatic. With those improvement he could easily steal bases and score runs atop the order for years to come.
2. CF – Manuel Margot
There is nothing not to like. One of two top-level prospects acquired in the Craig Kimbrel trade. The Dominican outfielder is already making noise at AAA El Paso. In case you haven’t noticed, he is batting .292/.348/.413 and has already stolen 30 bases. His BB/K ratio (22/31) is excellent for a young player. His power hasn’t shown itself as maybe some would have hoped (.413 SLG) but the kid is still growing. Not to mention he might be the best pure defensive center fielder on the Padres roster since Mike Cameron. I’m really excited and you should be, also.
3. RF – Hunter Renfroe
In all truth, Renfroe might be ready now but he is blocked in a crowded (and expensive) Padres outfield. However, there is no doubt Renfroe is on the verge of a call-up and it is tantalizing to think about what he might be able to do once he’s here. The 2013 first round draft pick is hitting almost everything at El Paso. His triple slash is almost obscene (.316/.336/.578) and he is an above average defender in right field. He does need to tweak his game somewhat by cutting down on his strikeouts and drawing the occasional walk, but many a young player have overcome their free-swinging tendencies once they see big league pitching.
4. 1B – Wil Myers
I’m probably a homer here but I feel Myers has a legitimate chance to be a perennial All-star and eventual MVP candidate. When he is fully healthy Myers can hit to all fields, hit for average and power, steal bases and draw the occasional walk. Even better news: he is still only 25 and in two years he will be approaching his baseball prime. I’d love to see the Padres sign Myers long-term and make him a mainstay of the roster for a decade.
5. C – Austin Hedges
This is spot in the order where things get a little dicey. While not your prototypical number five hitter, Hedges has shown he as gap power and can occasionally leave the yard. Really, all you want out of your number five guy is to mop-up base runners left behind after the clean-up hitter. I’m not sold on Hedges ever hitting for much average but he could be a 30 doubles player which could translate into some nice RBI totals… maybe?
6. LF – Michael Gettys
This is a bit of a stretch, hoping Gettys will be ready by 2018. The problem is the Padres don’t really have another top-level outfield prospect. Travis Jankowski seems more like a fourth outfielder than an everyday member of the lineup. Based on his poor contact numbers, Jabari Blash doesn’t strike me as a consistent performer, either. Alex Dickerson is already in his 6th professional year so his big 2016 seems like it’s coming a little too late. Gettys, on the other hand, is perhaps the player with the highest ceiling in the Padres system. The 20-year-old just played in the Low-A All-star game and will likely end 2016 at high-A Lake Elsinore. If all goes well he starts 2017 in San Antonio and ends it with El Paso. Gettys is your basic five-tool player but there are questions about whether he can cut down on his obscene strikeout rate and whether his power will translate to the big leagues. I, for one, am a believer.
7. SS – Jose Rondon
This was supposed to be Javier Guerra except when you barely hit your weight at high-A, you’re likely not less than two years away. Therefore, I’d imagine Rondon is the more likely choice here. The problem with Rondon is he can’t do any one thing really well. He is slightly above average defensively. He has some speed, but he won’t steal many bases. He makes contact well enough, but doesn’t really drive the ball. Still, he’s the Padres best bet for an everyday major league to come out of the system at this position. Still, not very inspiring.
8. 3B – Carlos Asuaje
As a mater of transparency, I’m not convinced Asuaje is a big leaguer. But honestly, he’s just about all the Padres have at the position. He is currently playing in El Paso and he is performing well, but all the scout reports I have read project him as a bench player at the MLB level. This, to me, speaks more of the Padres lack of depth at the corner infield positions. Even if you throw Alex Dickerson into the mix, the Padres really don’t have much to offer at 1B or at 3B. This needs to be addressed and soon.
In summary, there are several exciting prospects who could become franchise cornerstones in the near future. However, the team’s farm system could certainly benefit from additional player acquisitions as this team shops its veterans to contending teams.