This space will mostly be used to discuss the previous day’s game, in some form or fashion, yes. Sometimes, however, we’ll diverge and talk about something else. (That silly Joel Sherman NY Post article was a strong contender, for example.) Today it’s Fernando Tatis Jr., a favorite prospect of this particular writer.

As I received the twitter notification from Phillip (@advancedstats23), the internet’s foremost collector of Tatis Jr. footage, I knew what I was in for.

The camera operator didn’t, apparently.

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Last week the Chicago White Sox gave shortstop Tim Anderson a six-year, $25 million extension, with two club option years that would double that amount. It was the largest amount given to a player with less than a year of service time.

On its face this looks like a relatively low-risk, high upside deal for Chicago. Anderson’s been one of their best prospects since being drafted and was ranked 45th on ESPN’s Keith Law’s 2016 top-100 list. If Anderson reaches his ceiling, or comes close, this is a major win for Chicago. If he sucks, well, $25 million over six years isn’t going to wreck your payroll.

The Padres have more than a few guys on the roster with exciting ceilings, some even more highly rated than Anderson was. It’s smart for any organization to try and lock up young talent as early possible, but it should be even more of an emphasis for the Padres, who are never going to rank in the top half of MLB payroll.

The Padres have been burned in the past with this strategy (RIP Corey Luebke), but bad results shouldn’t discourage good process. Fortunately for us, AJ Preller is an extremely smart dude, and I doubt any previous organizational failings in this area would prevent him from pursuing an extension for his one of his young players.

Here are a few guys I think the Padres should look to extend:

Manuel Margot

Maybe the best prospect the Padres have had since Anthony Rizzo (I’M SORRY), Margot’s been ranked consistently high the last two years on every prospect list that matters. Plus hit, defense, and speed tools also make him a fairly safe prospect, giving him a rare combination of high ceiling and high floor.

Travis Jankowski is a nice player, and I think an outfield with him in left and Margot in center would be tremendous defense porn. Using Anderson’s contract as a barometer, I think something like a five-year, $20 million deal with three club option years at $15 million, $20 million, and $25 million, respectively. The full value of the deal could potentially be eight-years, $80 million.

Austin Hedges

Remember when Hedges was drafted and everyone said he if learned to hit he’d be reeeeeeeeally good? Well, Hedges learned to hit. Don’t talk to me about inflated Triple-A stats or how El Paso is a great place to hit and blah blah blah. I don’t care. There’s more than enough evidence that Hedges’ power potential is very real. An 80 defender at catcher with 25-30 HR ceiling? That’s a Famer, y’all.

One other thing working in Hedges’ favor is the lack of catching prospects behind him. Austin Allen was very good last year (.320/.364/.425) at Fort Wayne last year, but he was old for the level and isn’t a sure thing to stay at catcher. Luis Torrens is a Rule 5 pick and may not last the year. Christian Bethancourt isn’t a catcher anymore. Locking up Hedges makes too much sense.

I’d go six-years, $30 million, with two club option years at $12.5 million and $15 million, respectively. That’s eight-years, $57.5 million at full value.

Cory Spangenberg

Spang has always been one of my favorites for reasons I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s the combination of speed, defense, and athleticism. Maybe it’s because he’s a Jed Hoyer draft pick (I’M SORRY, AGAIN). I don’t know. But I know I dig the skill-set and pedigree.

At first glance, Spang doesn’t seem like an ideal extension candidate; far from it. He’s never healthy; he’s played in just 142 games the last three years. The Padres have second basemen coming out of their ears. Say what you will about Ryan Schimpf and Carlos Asuaje, but at least those guys have stayed healthy and performed when given the opportunity. And I haven’t even mentioned the team’s best hitting prospect, Luis Urias.

So, why extend Spang? He’s easily got the highest ceiling of all the MLB-ready options. He’s the best defender and baserunner of the group, and he’s got a long enough track record going back to minors that shows he can hit and get on base. He’s also defensively versatile. Not Alexi Amarista versatile, like, actually versatile. He’s got the range and arm for third base, and I could see him settling into a super utility role once Urias is ready.

So, what could a deal look like for Spang? His injury history would make significantly cheaper than the previous two. I’d give him a four-year, $15 million with a pair of club option year at $10 million each.

what's brewing on the padres farm system

Franchy Cordero, CF, Triple-A El Paso

When I last wrote about Franchy Cordero, he was just knocked out of the #30 spot in MLB Pipeline’s prospect rankings for the Padres. I thought he’d be back on their list and he was in fact rewarded for a solid season by returning to the list at #25. But an even better reward for his last season was the Padres placing Cordero on the 40-man roster. Cordero also played quite a bit this spring as he appeared in 17 games and had 27 at-bats for the big-league team. He did not hit all too well, going 5-27, and slashing .185/.343/.370. Good news here was he hit a double and two triples and stole two bases, so he did show some productivity while playing solid defense in the outfield.

Cordero should begin the season in El Paso playing for the Triple-A Chihuahuas. He was reassigned to the minors by the Padres on the 19th of March. If Manuel Margot breaks camp with the Padres, Cordero will most likely man center field. If Margot is sent down for team control considerations, then Cordero should be in right. Either way, Cordero will provide excellent insurance in case the injury bug bites the Padres in the outfield. With Jabari Blash all but assured of making the 25-man roster, it would make sense for the next outfielder up to be Cordero. (Billy Lybarger)

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With many of the Padres top prospects and minor leaguers looking to graduate to the majors in the near future, this is the first of a series of posts looking at the “other” prospects in the system, position by position.  Day 1: The “Other” Catchers

Man, aren’t you guys psyched about Austin Hedges?  Regardless of how poorly the Pads play this year, it’ll still be worth tuning in to watch him work his magic behind the dish.  Plus, his bat caught fire in Triple-A last year, and he’s off to a hot start in spring training right now (batting .500 through his first 20 at bats), and the idea of pairing his elite defense with even an average bat should make Padres fans happy for a long time.

BUT, things happen.  While his 56 game stint with the Padres in 2015 technically means he hasn’t been a prospect for a while, the same rules apply: things don’t always pan out.  If you’re ready to disregard the rest of the Padres backstops in the minors for the next decade, you might want to take a look at that dusty Sean Burroughs jersey in your closet and knock on some wood.  At the very least, prospects are good currency for acquiring big league talent.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Farm systems are big.

Sometimes we—for good reason—get caught up with established prospects like Manuel Margot and Anderson Espinoza; or intriguing ones like Fernando Tatis Jr.; or enigmatic ones likes Javier Guerra. A good system goes far beyond the headliners, however. There are under-the-radar players all over professional baseball who are going to earn scant notoriety as prospects but turn into productive big-league players (most of them are Cardinals and Giants, probably). The hope is that the Padres will find a few of them.

Under A.J. Preller, the Padres have made great strides in looking everywhere for talented baseball players. They’ve signed gobs of young players from Latin America; they’ve made noise in Asia; they’ve kicked the tires on the shires of Europe; they’ve signed a number of players from indy ball. They’ve also started to corner the market on Division III college players. Last year the Padres signed a league-leading three D-III players, and each of them got off to solid pro debuts in 2016.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Spring training is less than two weeks away. Man it feels good just to say that. Pitchers and catchers will report in a few days and it is exciting times for Padres fans as the first wave of young talent is hitting the shores of San Diego in the form of Hunter Renfore, Manny Margot, Carlos Asuaje and Austin Hedges. The next wave to follow most likely is the young pitchers that will start the season in Lake Elsinore. Anderson Espinoza, Cal Quantrill, Jacob Nix and Eric Lauer all should pass through the Storm’s rotation at some point next year. And one promising pitcher that has an outside chance of joining them is a seventeen year old left hander from Cuba, Adrian Morejon. Morejon, a 6’1” 195 pound youngster that would be in his senior year of high school if he pitched in the States, signed last summer for a Padres International bonus record of $11,000,000.

* Gentle reminder to all baseball dads to force your son to pitch southpaw.

Now, I am not advocating the Padres rush Morejon to high A ball. I am merely postulating that if things fall the way some scouts believe they could, you may see an 18 year old backfill one of the college draftees of the ’16 crop as at least one maybe two move up to AA ball during the season.

When the Padres first signed Morejon he was relatively unknown to most of the publications that closely follow prospects. He was the Fernando Tatis Junior of left handed pitchers, if you will. Ben Badler of Baseball America had this to say about him after the Padres sent him to their Dominican facility:

Since arriving in the Dominican Republic, Morejon has seen his fastball increase to sit in the low-90s and touch 95 mph, showing good feel for both his curveball and changeup, with a chance for both offspeed pitches to develop into above-average offerings. He technically throws two different types of changeups, one of which is a knuckle-change with late diving action, while the other is a more traditional changeup with sink and run. It’s a repertoire to profile as a starter with a smooth delivery and clean arm action.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare at my computer and watch my prospect status rise. —Fernando Tatis Jr. (probably)

Fernando Tatis Jr. entered the Padres organization mostly as an unknown. Acquired with Erik Johnson from the White Sox for James Shields, Tatis hadn’t played a single professional game when the Padres got him last June. Despite the household name, Tatis was mostly viewed as a wild card—an international amateur who hadn’t done enough to earn a huge bonus or lots of prospect cred.

In fact, the last time I wrote about him—in August in a WBOTF post—I noted the lack of coverage:

Tatis Jr. is so young and so inexperienced that you have to dig to find anything written about him on the internet . . . I mean, dig, dark web and all.

Fast-forward eight months and the internet is overflowing with words on Tatis, most of them glowing. For one, Tatis played, and played well. Split between rookie ball and low-A Tri City, the 17-year-old right-handed hitting shortstop posted a .273/.311/.432 line with 15 stolen bases and 24 extra-base hits in 55 games. Beyond the numbers, people really liked what they saw.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

It’s Prospect Week here at Padres Public, so I’ve decided to pop my head out of my apocalypse bunker, at great risk to my own personal safety, to discuss a matter of great import: whether or not Hunter Renfroe is actually going to be good. This message may self-destruct at any moment, so please read quickly but carefully.

Last week, ESPN Baseball Senior Writer, prospect analyst, and Top Chef enthusiast Keith Law released his top 100 prospects for 2017 ($). There was a bit of controversy surrounding Law’s list, as he ranked newly acquired White Sox uber-prospect Yoan Moncada, seen by many/most as a top 5 prospect, #17 on his list, noting Moncada’s ridiculous upside but worrying about his low contact rate. Responding to a reader question about Moncada’s strikeout rate, Law noted that “it’s not just the number, but how a player ends up there,” a suggestion that Moncada’s strikeouts are rooted in a deeper, more troubling problem, such as pitch recognition and/or plate discipline, or problems with his swing mechanics.

Over the weekend, MLB.com released their own top 100 prospect ranking for 2017, and on that list Moncada was 2nd only to his former organization’s top prospect, Andrew Benintendi, with no mention of any problems with his contact rate, and actually noting his increased patience in the 2nd half of the season as one of his many positives.

What makes this relevant to you, Padres fans, is that a very similar difference of opinion seems to have been a major reason in the range of rankings in Padres OF prospect Hunter Renfroe this off-season. Renfroe ranked 42nd on MLB.com’s list while, for the 2nd year in a row, he did not rank on Law’s top 100 list.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Through a winter of despair comes a beacon of hope . . . it’s prospect week here at Padres Public!

Today we’ll have a cumulative top 10 list and some Big Picture discussion. Throughout the rest of the week, we’ll discuss specific players more in-depth, re-heating the cooling winter hot stove with some overdue prospect fodder.

First, the prospect list. As most all reputable prospect outlets have released top prospects lists (we’re still waiting for Keith Law and a few others), we decided to combine them together with a top-secret algorithm and spit out an overall top 10. Without further ado, using the lists from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Chris Crawford, FanGraphs, Mad Friars, and—yes—Padres Public, voila:

1. Anderson Espinoza, RHP
2. Manuel Margot, OF
3. Hunter Renfroe, OF
4. Cal Quantrill, RHP
5. Adrian Morejon, LHP
6. Luis Urias, 2B
7. Jacob Nix, RHP
8. Chris Paddack, RHP
9. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
10. Michael Gettys, OF

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Well, it finally happened.  The path has been made clear for Austin Hedges to begin the year as the Padres starting catcher with the trade of veteran Derek Norris.  Most would argue that Norris’ horrific year at the plate in 2016 (.186/.255/.328, 56 OPS+) all but guaranteed that Hedges would get the lion’s share of the playing time anyways, but with Norris being shipped off to the Washington Nationals, San Diego will avoid even a shred of catching controversy.

While Norris is a good buy-low/rebound candidate (he had the highest “hard contact” rate and “line drive” rate of his career last year, at 34.4% and 21.9%, respectively), he obviously doesn’t fit in the competitive window the Padres are shooting for.  Hedges doesn’t have much left to learn at Triple-A El Paso (.326/.353/.597 with a career high 21 dingers and 82 RBI), so this afternoon, the time was right for AJ Preller’s first post-suspension trade.

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