The 2018 Padres have not been very good. They also have not been very exciting or fun to watch.
EXCEPT … for a few youngsters who give us hope that the future is, indeed, going to be bright.
Outfielder Franchy Cordero is launching baseballs into the Troutosphere (Cordero has three HR of 450-plus feet, more than anyone else in baseball). Infielder Christian Villanueva went on a dinger binge of his own and if his glove can start matching his bat he could be an All-Star in the next few years. Lefty Joey Lucchesi has impressed with his stuff and composure.
Other than that it’s been a lot of “Wow this is not real good.” Well, it was that way until 1st baseman Eric Hosmer started heating up. Speaking of Hosmer, a lot of people scratched their heads when they threw nine figures at the former Royals All-Star.
One of the major concerns was we’ve known for two years that the Padres are in a rebuild, so why are we suddenly throwing all that cash at a guy when we’re still trying to bulk up the system?
Which is certainly a valid concern. Obviously the Friars are nowhere near being contenders right now so what’s up with signing Hosmer when it’s going to take a while to compete?
So I did a little looking and it would appear the Padres had one year that looks like it’s going to be so insanely good that the whole process was accelerated. A quick look back:
When Padres General Manager A.J. Preller arrived in San Diego in August of 2014 he was given the seemingly impossible task of reshaping the organization from tip to tail.
He started the process with a cannon shot across the bow of Major League Baseball.
Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, James Shields, Craig Kimbrel … the names that Preller brought in were huge. Their production, however, was not. So aside from Myers the Padres sold off parts to start truly bulking up their farm system. Usually a complete rebuild takes a few years.
But then 2016 happened.
The sheer volume of high-end talent that was injected to the Padres organization is staggering. Just take a look at how things went during the calendar year of 2016.
- RHP Michel Baez (Padres 5th-ranked prospect, MLB 40th-ranked prospect)
- LHP Adrian Morejon (Padres 6th-ranked prospect, MLB 48th-ranked prospect)
- SS Gabriel Arias (Padres 10th-ranked prospect)
- OF Tirso Ornelas (Padres 14th-ranked prospect)
- OF Jorge Ona (Padres 17th-ranked prospect)
- OF Jeisson Rosario (Padres 18th-ranked prospect)
- SS Luis Almanzar (Padres 26th-ranked prospect)
- RHP James Shields to the White Sox for SS Fernando Tatis, Jr. (Padres 1st-ranked prospect, MLB 8th-ranked prospect) and RHP Erik Johnson
- RHP Fernando Rodney to the Marlins for RHP Chris Paddack (Padres 22nd-ranked prospect)
- RHP Andrew Cashner and RHP Tayron Guerrero to the Marlins for 1B Josh Naylor (Padres 15th-ranked prospect), RHP Carter Capps, RHP Jarred Cosart
- LHP Drew Pomeranz to the Red Sox for RHP Anderson Espinoza (Padres 7th-ranked prospect)
- RHP Cal Quantrill (Padres 4th-ranked prospect, 38th-ranked MLB prospect)
- INF Hudson Potts (Padres 16th-ranked prospect)
- LHP Eric Lauer (Padres 12th-ranked prospect; 2nd pitcher from draft class to reach MLB)
- OF Buddy Reed (2nd in the California League with a .343 batting average)
- RHP Reggie Lawson (Padres 30th-ranked prospect; Leads California League in ERA as a 20-year-old; 27 K, 7 BB, 1.44 ERA)
- RHP Mason Thompson (Padres 24th-ranked prospect)
- LHP Joey Lucchesi (Padres 9th-ranked prospect; 1st pitcher from draft class to reach MLB; leads all National League rookies in ERA, starts, innings pitched)
- RHP David Bednar (35th round pick, Padres 27th-ranked prospect)
Rule 5 Draft
- RHP Miguel Diaz (was a reliever in San Diego in 2017, now stretching out to be a starter at Double-A San Antonio and has allowed just one run in his last 16.2 innings)
Free Agent Signings:
- INF Christian Villanueva (leads all NL rookies in HR, RBI, OPS)
- RHP Craig Stammen (leads Padres relievers in innings the last two years)
- April 8, signed LHP Brad Hand off waivers from Miami; Hand was an All-Star in 2017 and signed a 3-year contract through 2020 (club option for 2021)
Add it all up and that’s 18 of the Padres’ top-30 prospects … four of the Top-50 prospects in all of baseball … an All-Star reliever … and a guy who is already making a case to win the 2018 National League Rookie of the Year award (Villanueva, who might get pushed by Lucchesi for the honor).
Now I know the prospect rankings are always arbitrary and no guarantee of future success. In 2015 there were 16 guys ranked ahead of Aaron Judge and in 2011 there were nine guys in front of Manny Machado. Of course two of them were Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, but you get the picture.
Any team would be hard-pressed to find a single year where it added as many potential impact players as the Padres did in 2016. We already see a few of them becoming the biggest contributors on the big league club as rookies. If the rest of the crop, and 2017 additions like MacKenzie Gore, follow suit that #Padres2020WorldSeriesChamps hashtag on Twitter won’t be wishful thinking.