Tier 1: Competing For A Major League Job
Casey Kelly, SP (#1 Baseball America, #4 MLB.com, #4 Minorleagueball.com, #4 Baseball Prospectus, #4 Fangraphs)
Kelly comes into camp already holding a 40 man roster spot and the best combination of major league experience and prospect ranking. His role in Spring Training is primarily to win a starting spot in the rotation. There could be up to two of those up for grabs and he's fighting Eric Stults, Anthony Bass, Tyson Ross and Freddy Garcia for that spot. If he doesn't win that spot, he'll have to prove that he's ready for a call up should an injury arise. There's very little chance that he'll end up in the bullpen a la Tim Stauffer, Corey Luebke and Bass in previous seasons.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B (#3, #1, #2, #5, #2) (Same order as Kelly above)
Some probably have Gyorko penciled into that starting 2B spot, but currently he doesn't have a spot on the 40 man roster (although room could easily be made when Joe Wieland or Luebke go on the 60 day DL) and there are still questions about his defense. He also could be sent for a little extra seasoning in AAA in order to withhold service time. If he doesn't get the starting spot, his role could be first man up if Logan Forysthe, Alexi Amarista or Chase Headley get hurt (or in the case of Headley, possibly traded). James Darnell would be another competing for that role as 3B reinforcement.
Brad Boxberger, RP (Unranked, #18, #14, Unranked, Unranked)
Baseball Prospectus didn't rank Boxberger, but called him a "Factor on the Farm" because he could be a major league contributor. He's got the arsenal to be a late inning reliever, but he needs to show that he's got the command and control to be relied upon. If that shows up in Spring, he could make the roster and earn his way to those late innings from there.
James Darnell, 3B/OF (Unranked, Unranked, #15, Unranked, #15)
Will fight with Jesus Guzman and Kyle Blanks as one of the right handed bats off the bench that can cover for Carlos Quentin occasionally. Those two guys have the advantage of backing up Yonder Alonso as well. That probably leaves Darnell as headed for AAA as one of the first call ups if anything happens to a corner infielder or corner outfielder.
Tier 2: Potential Reinforcements
Robbie Erlin, SP (#10, #9, #5, #6, #7)
Erlin will likely get at least a start or two this Spring as well as some early innings work behind the starting pitcher. He'll get to show that he can get major leaguers out and keep himself on the team's mind if they need to reach into the minors for starting pitching during the season.
Adys Portillo, SP (#9, #6, Unranked, #9, #8)
Portillo is going to get some innings in the very first game. He's got the talent to get big leaguers out and he'll get some chances to show it. He's certainly behind Erlin on the depth chart, but he could leave an impression that could force a call up late in the season should certain situations arise. He does have a spot on the 40 man, which Erlin does not.
Donn Roach, SP (Unranked, #15, #9, Unranked, Unranked)
Another one of Baseball Prospectus' unranked guys that's considered a "Factor on the Farm". He's a fast riser because he doesn't have to blow people away to be effective and could be a safer call up that Portillo if the situation called for it. He doesn't have a 40 man roster spot, has very limited experience in AA and none in AAA and we'll have to see how much of a look he even gets in games this Spring.
John Barbato, RP (Unranked, Unranked, #14, Unranked, Unranked)
The final "Factor on the Farm". His stuff is so good and it only has to work in short bursts as a reliever. A quick rise through the minors as he uses his great stuff could get him on the major league radar by season's end.
Tier 3: The Future
Austin Hedges, C (#4, #5, #1, #1, #1)
The most common choice for Padres top prospect is not going to be playing the majors this year. Big league camp is just a taste for him and he's also an invitee because you need a few catchers in order to survive Spring Training.
Kevin Quackenbush, RP (Unranked, #19, Unranked, Unranked, Unranked)
Quack dominated the lower minors, and possibly could be on the fast track associated with Barbato. However, his stuff doesn't get as good of reviews and needs to prove himself a little more. A good Spring getting more developed hitters out could help.
Matt Stites, RP (Unranked, Unranked, #20, Unranked, Unranked)
Another reliever getting a taste of major league camp. He throws hard and has athleticism, but he's not the biggest guy and needs to prove himself a little more.Who has a shot to break with the team? Who might show up later in the season? Who are just getting a taste and will be looked at closer down the road?