San Diego Padres 2011 Minor League Review
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America:
2012 (8) | 2011 (8) | 2010 (20) | 2009 (29) | 2008 (13) | 2007 (29) | 2006 (29)
2011 Affiliate Records
MLB: [71-91] NL West
AAA: [65-79] Pacific Coast League – Tucson
AA: [94-46] Texas League – San Antonio
A+: [96-71] California League – Lake Elsinore
A: [69-70] Midwest League – Fort Wayne
A(ss): [46-30] Northwest League – Eugene
The Run Down
San Diego’s system is, without a doubt, among the best in baseball, and that holds true regarding fantasy. Recent trades are looking incredibly smart, as they’ve traded away big league pieces for multiple prospects, all of whom appear to be panning out. Alonso, Grandal, Wieland, Erlin and Kelly were all acquired from other systems, and they’re all on the verge of breaking through with the Padres. Liriano, Gyorko and Spangenberg headline the homegrown talent, which is a bit further from the majors. But this system is flush with talent and fantasy owners should familiarize themselves with these names. And as usual, the Petco effect applies – keep an eye on these pitchers, especially.
Arizona Fall League Players – Salt River Rafters
Players of Interest
After posting a .943 OPS in 98 trips to the plate with the Reds last year, it’s clear that Alonso is ready for a full-time role in the bigs. He should have that opportunity this season with the Padres. While his power probably falls short of Rizzo’s, Alonso has better on-base skills and he certainly has the ability to hit for a higher average. For now, he likely falls in with the rest of the boring NL first basemen, but he has a chance to separate himself from that group as he settles into his role.
The Reds pushed Grandal aggressively in 2011, playing him at three levels, beginning at High-A and ending at Triple-A. After slashing .305/.401/.500 across those stages, it seems his bat is ready for a shot at big league pitching. His defense, however, needs more work. Barring an outstanding spring, Grandal will open up 2012 with Tucson, but expect to see the 23-year-old behind the plate in San Diego at some point this year.
Wieland’s been pegged by many as a fourth starter, but supreme command is allowing him to project beyond that profile. He features a four-pitch repertoire and he’s precise with each offering. His stuff will be tested versus more seasoned hitters in Triple-A, but if his success continues, Wieland could be starting games at Petco this year.
Erlin, along with Wieland, was acquired via Texas in the Mike Adams swap. Also like Wieland, he doesn’t light up the radar gun, relying on deception and plus command, instead. While there are some differences in approach, for fantasy purposes, Erlin and Wieldard are extremely similar.
Kelly, at his point, isn’t quite as complete as either Wieland or Erlin, but with a bit more refinement to his secondary pitches, he could reach the majors before both. Kelly throws a heavy sinker and induces groundballs often. I’m still waiting for his production to catch up with his ability, but it’s important to note that he was a fulltime shortstop as recently as 2009.
Jedd Gyorko | 3B:
Gyorko hit .365 in the California League but regressed somewhat when he reached Double-A, posting a .288 average. He returned to form during AFL play, though, claiming the batting title with a .437 mark. Gyorko’s had nice power figures to this point – 30 HR in 2011 – but expect that aspect of his game to dwindle when he steps inside Petco. With Chase Headley entrenched at third, Gyorko won’t arrive ‘til 2013 at the soonest.
James Darnell | 3B/OF:
Darnell slashed .410/.406/.547 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2011, and earned a September promotion. His bat is intriguing, as well as his ability to play multiple positions. He’ll start 2012 in Tucson, but Darnell is ready for big league ball and he’ll be called up if needed.
Lirano’s still a long way from the bigs, but it seems something clicked for him last year at Low-A, and he’s poised to post some gaudy numbers in the California League this year. The 20-year-old is a genuine five-tool-type and he’ll be a guy to watch as he pushes through the system. Expect a 2014 arrival, but he could pan out more quickly.
Spangenberg is among the best second base prospects in the minors. He projects to hit for average and be on base often. Elite speed will allow him to do some work on those basepaths, too. He’ll begin 2012 in High-A along with Lirano, but being that he’s a bit more polished, San Diego might promote Spangeberg more aggressively.