There’s no denying that the San Diego Padres have had one of, if not the best farm systems in the league for several years. The team took advantage of trades, the international market, and the first-year-player draft to put together an impressive collection of young talent.
Players like Fernando Tatis Jr, Luis Urias, and Francisco Mejia headline the group of prospects that should suit up for the Padres in 2019. In fact, it’s entirely possible that, with the addition of Mejia, each of their top-10 prospects from last season will have made their MLB-debut by the time the 2019 season is over.
The future is bright in San Diego.
Given that they have accumulated the deepest group of prospects, it’s possible that not all of these youngsters have a future in southern California. Looking at the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, the Friars are forced to make difficult decisions about such prospects, and their future with the club.
Their 40-man roster is currently full, and the front office will have to make several moves prior to Tuesday’s deadline if they are to retain the services of several top prospects. As we have yet to release our list of their top-20 prospects heading into 2019, I’ll look at how MLB Pipeline ranked these players at the end of last year.
Per eligibility guidelines, each of the following players must be added to the 40-man roster before 8pm EST on Tuesday or else they become eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft on December 13, in Las Vegas.
No. 5 Chris Paddack, RHP
This is a no-brainer. The Padres will protect the righty that is currently listed as the 35th best prospect in MLB. His 120 strikeouts over 90 innings, and 2.18 ERA were good enough to take home the Minor League Baseball Starting Pitcher of the Year Award.
No. 12. Anderson Espinoza, RHP
Once a Top-100 prospect himself, Espinoza is another obvious choice to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. Acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Drew Pomeranz deal, Espinoza spent 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
No. 25. Austin Allen, C
Further exemplifying how deep the Padres farm system is, Allen hit .270 with an .857 OPS while belting 22 home runs in 119 Double-A games. And he’s the No. 25 prospect in the system. The 24-year-old catcher may have trouble sticking behind the plate long-term, however, he’ll likely be taken if left unprotected. There are several teams that would be happy to have his bat on their 25-man roster.
No. 28. Edward Olivares, OF
This is where the intrigue begins. Assuming that the three previous names are protected, we’re looking at four roster spots that would need to be vacated in order to keep Olivares from being selected. He’s yet to play above the High-A level, but after acquiring him on January 6 it’s unlikely that the club would risk losing him after he posted 47 XBH, 21 stolen bases, and in 129 games
No. 29. Pedro Avila, RHP
I’m not sold on Avila sticking with a big-league club for the 2019 season. With less-than-stellar production in 2018, a fastball that is merely average, and questions over the 21-year-olds ability at the Double-A level, it’s not likely that another team would take Avila if he were left unprotected.
So what does this mean?
The Padres will make several roster moves over the next 48 hours. At minimum, three players will be placed on waivers — where they could be lost and the Padres would receive nothing in return — or traded.
With the recent report, from Andy Martino of SNY, that the Padres are interested in New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, it makes all the sense in the world that they would try to finalize such a trade prior to Tuesday’s deadline. Any trade involving the 26-year-old righty would almost certainly include Mejia — filling an immediate catching need for the Mets — which would free up a roster spot for one of the above prospects.
Perhaps the only sure thing at this point, the San Diego Padres will be an interesting team to watch over the next few days — and the next few years.