The Padres have made an uncharacteristically loud splash this holiday season. As fans complained about inactivity at the Winter Meetings here in San Diego, the team tuned out the noise and dealt Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland, and Zach Eflin to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp, Tim Federowicz, and $31 million.

With a laughably incompetent offense and a disillusioned fan base, the Padres have decided to commit large amounts of money to name players. There’s a new GM, a new hitting coach, and a relatively new ownership group. They want to make a positive mark on the franchise and the city.

Before the trade, the Padres had been linked to many marquee hitters this offseason. They missed on Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomás. Other names included Jay Bruce, Adam Jones, and Justin Upton. Some still think Upton might yet happen.

Ron Fowler, Mike Dee, and A.J. Preller had a budget and were going to use it. When Sandoval and Tomás landed elsewhere, they turned to Kemp. But was it worth the cost?

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It’s Tuesday evening in Cleveland, Ohio. I’ve got the day off work. I went grocery shopping, cleaned the kitchen, and I should be doing laundry, but I’ll save it for a bit later. I’m fully moved into my new apartment, for the first time in my life, I have a washer/dryer right outside my bedroom, and yet I’m still just letting the dirty clothes pile up. Instead, I’m having a back and forth with a Dodgers fan on Twitter who really didn’t like the trade proposal I tweeted about how the Padres could sensibly land Matt Kemp.

He thinks I’m high and know nothing about baseball. I’m not really engaged, just throwing barbs back. There’s no point actually dealing in facts with this kind of Dodgers fan. Scrolling through his tweets and re-tweets, he really doesn’t want to trade Kemp. I get that, but not understanding what might actually make sense for both teams in order to get a deal done is just being an arrogant Dodgers fan.

The problem is that the Padres will absolutely have to over-pay to get a deal for Kemp done. I’ve come to terms with that. The Dodgers have the upper hand. They don’t need to trade Kemp and they don’t care about money because they’re literally billionaires. They’re asking for the moon, and like a celebrity who actually wants to go to the moon, they’re willing to pay tens of millions of dollars to get it. If they don’t get what they want, there’s no deal. Negotiating with that is not easy.

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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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thediamond

I can think of worse places to be on a Wednesday afternoon.

With an 8-2 Opening Day loss to the Lancaster JetHawks on Thursday night, this isn’t the quick start you’d expect the Lake Elsinore Storm or manager Jamie Quirk would have liked to get off to. But, as Quirk would likely tell you, even a loss is a learning experience to build for the future.

Before the Storm packed the buses for the two-hour trip north, Padres Public was able to catch up with the first-year manager and a handful of players at The Diamond in Lake Elsinore during Wednesday’s FanFest to see how things were shaping up for the 2014 season.

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It’s been a crazy few weeks since both the MLB and MiLB seasons started. Due to unforeseen circumstances that would be extremely boring to retell here, the Padres Prospects Spring Training Notebook kept getting pushed back to the point where now it seems to make more sense just to roll it into an overall spring/early season notes piece. Below are notes and observations from both in-person looks while in Arizona and conversations had since the season began. Be forewarned, the Spring Notes are extremely raw in presentation, which we’ll call a tribute to the environment they’re taken from.

Max Fried

Spring Notes: extremely easy delivery that he can repeat, not much wasted movement, very efficient, almost looks like a right-handed pitcher because his delivery looks so natural, physically looks a lot like Clayton Kershaw with slight differences in foot strike and a little bit of Cole Hamels mixed in; fastball has great life, he’s mostly pitched in the 89-91 range but it seems like there’s 2-3 more MPH in the tank; throws curveball both in the dirt and for strikes, very unique for his age, great vertical movement and tight spin; changeup is raw, he shows solid depth on the pitch but needs to speed up his arm before facing advanced hitters, could be an average to plus offering but will need a lot of work; body is mature for his age, still shows some projection, above average athlete; extremely coachable, was asking for instruction from Padres coaches and seemed open to adjustments.

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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 still possess their rookie status.  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.

Two new wrinkles to the rankings:

  • 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)
  • Risk Factors have been included to help show the largest road block faced in each player’s development

Tier 1 Read More…

While many who read this site are intimately familiar with the Padres’ system – I’m looking at you Padres Prospects readers – we at Padres Public don’t like anyone to feel left out. What follows is a high-level view of sorts of the topics and players you need to be ready to discuss when you and your buddies are sitting around a table enjoying one of San Diego’s finest beverages after Fan Fest.

Austin Hedges is good, and he could be really, really good

It’s easy to get excited about prospects in the low minors. Typically they have shown enough production to believe that their physical tools just may mature into something wonderful, but aren’t quite old enough to expect immediate success.

Hedges is a 2011 draftee that signed for a then second-round record $3 million bonus. He was heralded as the best defensive player in the entire draft by Baseball America and just about everyone else who had either gotten to see him in person or had heard the now urban-legend level stories of his sub-2.0 second pop times.

2012 was Hedges’ first full season of games at the professional level and he more than held his own offensively – .275/.341/.446 – while successfully leading an extremely wild pitching staff.

This offseason Hedges’ name has been bandied about by a few outlets as San Diego’s best overall prospect, and for good reason. He has the potential to be a perennial Gold Glove catcher while putting up above average numbers offensively.  The production bar for catchers has fallen so far that even if Hedges fails to progress, he still has a better than even shot at an MLB career by playing well above average defense.

That being said 2013 will provide an interesting perspective on the Padres’ 20-year-old backstop as he heads to the hitter-friendly California League on his way through the system. Josh Byrnes and Co. have already shown a willingness to push players through the system, so be sure to get out to Lake Elsinore before it’s too late. Read More…