At the beginning of last week’s winter meetings, the Padres arguably had more depth at catcher than any other major league organization with a trio composed of Rene Rivera, a former (and, apparently, still) journeyman turned defensive wizard who had a breakout year with the bat in 2014; Yasmani Grandal, a talented 26-year-old switch-hitter with a surprising knack for framing pitches; and Austin Hedges, an offensively-challenged 22-year-old in need of further seasoning, but also gifted with the best defensive catching skills in the minor leagues.

A week later and, at least tentatively, the Padres have shipped both Grandal and Rivera elsewhere. (Don’t forget, as of this writing, both trades aren’t yet official.) Grandal went to the Dodgers as the main piece in the Matt Kemp trade and Rivera is headed to Tampa Bay in a three-team whopper that will, when finalized, bring Wil Myers to San Diego. The trade:

Padres receive: OF Wil Myers ( from TB), C Ryan Hanigan (TB), RHP Gerardo Reyes (TB), and LHP Jose Castillo (TB)

Rays receive: C Rene Rivera (SD), RHP Burch Smith (SD), 1B Trevor Bauers (SD), OF Steven Souza (WAS), and LHP Travis Ott (WAS)

Nationals receive: RHP Joe Ross (SD) and SS Trea Turner (SD) as a player-to-be-named-now*

*Turner, since he was drafted by the Padres in June, can’t be traded until next summer. Apparently, he’ll be put in the awkward position of remaining with the Padres until then.

The Padres haven’t completely depleted their previously discussed catching depth, as they got both Hanigan and Tim Federowicz back in the recent deals while hanging onto Hedges. However, before we can discuss the current catching situation with a straight face, let’s talk big picture.

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It’s been kind of a busy week for me. On Monday, I posted a piece on the surprisingly awesome season Seth Smith is having. Amazingly, Seth Smith is still alive, well, and hitting the crap out of baseballs. This minor miracle would be enough to satiate me for a week, but it was also my anniversary this week. Four wonderful years of marriage. Good times. To celebrate, she dragged me to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and I dragged her to a minor league baseball game. Because the most important thing you need to know about marriage is that if you do something they want to do, you might be able to guilt them into doing something you want to do. Democracy. America.

Anyway, the Padres’ Low-A affiliate, the Fort Wayne TinCaps, traveled east to the Greater Cleveland Metropolitan Area this week for a three game series against the Lake County Captains. The Captains play about 45 minutes away from my home on the opposite side of town, and I hemmed and hawed on whether to make the trip, but when I found out that there were seats available in the front row directly behind home plate, I decided we had to make the trip. So we headed out on Tuesday for the 1pm start, and my wife was absolutely thrilled to find out the game would be delayed 45 minutes due to a small amount of pre-game rain.

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This is a list of the best prospects in the Padres’ organization.  To be eligible for this list a player must not have appeared in the majors. It’s a weird way to do things, but means more young prospects will appear.  Prospects are ranked both by their ultimate potential and the likelihood that they will reach that potential.  The easiest way to understand the rankings is to consider what order players would be selected in if the entire organization were eligible for a draft.  Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) for each prospect is when they would reach the majors if they were able to reach their potential.

Notes carried over from the 2013 Top 25:

  • Prospects have been split into tiers to help get a better idea of the talent gap between players (i.e. the difference between position 1 and 2 may not be the same as the difference between position 14 and 15). It is safe to assume that all players in a tier could be rearranged without much argument.
  • Risk Factors have been included to help show the largest road block faced in each player’s development

Tier 1

1) Austin HedgesHedges split his age-20 season between High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio. While his overall offensive production doesn’t jump out at you, Hedges continues to be a tough out against advanced competition. He will head back to San Antonio to begin 2014, but minimal development is required before Hedges is able to contribute at the big league level. ETA: 2014

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After grabbing Hunter Renfroe in the first round, the Padres continued their assumed strategy of aggressively pursuing hitting talent in the 2013 MLB Draft.

Dustin Peterson:

With their second pick of Day 1, the Padres selected Dustin Peterson – brother of 12th overall pick DJ Peterson – a high school shortstop out of Gilbert, Arizona. Peterson features a well-rounded skillset that projects him to have at least average physical tools across the board. He was always a known commodity but seemed to have carved his way into elite status later into his high school season.

Peterson’s simple swing should translate very well to professional ball as he features an extremely quiet lower half that lets his strong wrists whip the bat through the zone at an incredible rate. While Peterson has struggled with off-speed stuff to this point – like most players his age – his tools suggest a quick learning curve. Read More…