What do Mississippi, USA; Bolívar, Venezuela; and Perth, Australia have in common? Probably not a whole lot. Mississippi is the majority producer for catfish consumed in the United States, Bolívar has the tallest waterfall in the world, and Perth has the.. oldest operating mint in Australia? Yeah, so not that much. But what they do have in common are starting outfielders for Lake Elsinore - three very interesting prospects for the San Diego Padres going into 2015-2016.
With the recent signing of Jedd Gyorko, a lot of our eyes and thoughts turn towards new, reliable, likable players who can also solidify our roster. What with our unstoppable love for starting ace Andrew Cashner, contrasted with ever-developing opinions on inconsistent players (some who are at least consistent through injury), both fans and the team alike have needed personable performance players to get excited about. Y'know, puttin' "butts in the seats".
As fans, we also need a healthy distraction from time to time. This has mostly necessitated from our current infield-corner woes. So maybe it's time to look to the outfield just a little bit more, which is something the Padres had already been very active in doing in the offseason.
With Will Venable ($4.25m), Seth Smith ($4.5m), Carlos Quentin ($9.5m), Cameron Maybin ($5m), Chris Denorfia ($2.25m) all signed to contracts - some being multiple-year deals (Venable, Quentin, Maybin) - and Alexi Amarista and Tommy Medica on pre-arbitration; we're left with two fat-contract players bummed out with injuries and low performance. The remainder, though not as low-production, will still be up for grabs by the end of the year.
So what is in these ripe Padres' fields that we can farm?
Let's start East of the Mississippi with Hunter Renfroe.
Some Padres fans have been pretty familiar with Hunter the past year and a half. Drafted in 2010 by the Red Sox, Renfroe didn't sign with the Sox and chose to go with his hometown Mississippi State University instead. From there the Padres picked him very first (13th overall) in the 2013 June Amateur Draft and sent him to Eugene, Oregon to play for the Emeralds. He quickly moved his way up the system to the TinCaps, and started his 2014 season with Lake Elsinore.
Posting a solid 2013 season with a .271 AVG and 46 H in 43 games, he's currently hitting with a .260 AVG, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 10 BB, .353 OBP, .562 SLG, and .915 OPS in 19 games played in 2014. Hunter has been a very active producer with the bat and is ripe for the picking - projected to move up to AA very soon.
Bam, there's your All-American.
Now moving down through Central America and into center field, Venezuela native Alberth Martinez is our next player to be piqued by.
Martinez signed to the Padres as a non-drafted free agent in 2009, and some very serious hype trailed behind him by 2011. Putting up a .293 AVG with 77 hits in 64 games played, the only signs he has been showing are that he's picking up speed and he's ready to hit way, way more.
Alberth ha jugado con mucha ferocidad desde el ano pasado y sigue sin parar. He's hitting with a .329 AVG, and in Lake Elsinore's 19 games so far he's managed to arrive at 26 hits, 16 RBIs, a .375 OBP and .506 SLG. Like Renfroe, he's a hot-hot bat who can can fill in our outfield and hasn't stop performing since being named the #11 prospect in the Arizona League after tearing up his 2011 season.
Boom, there's your South American.
Finally now, crossing the South Pacific Ocean all the way down under to Western Australia, to a little suburb in Perth called Bullsbrook, to meet fellow Storm outfielder Corey Adamson.
The final swordsman of these three musketeers, Adamson was also signed by the Padres as a non-drafted free agent in 2008, a year before teammate Alberth Martinez. Corey was a crucial part of bringing his Under-16 Western Australia team to the national championship. The Padres were pleased, and Adamson was signed and invited to start in Peoria.
By the end of 2011, Adamson was also playing and hitting consistently for the Emeralds and the TinCaps, but it wasn't until his new tenure at Lake Elsinore starting in 2013 that he began tearing up the minor leagues. His 2013 season was one to be excited about, putting up a .274 average with 113 hits in 412 at bats. Corey was definitely seeing his fair share of plate appearances, and out of the 117 games he played that year he had 43 RBIs and a .741 OPS.
Although the least productive of the three, Adamson looks to be on-level with his two outfield amigos. Currently hitting in 2014 with a .279 AVG, averaging at least a hit per game and getting his fair share of swings, Corey completes the outfield package of young performance hitters roaming our minor league outfield.
Crikey now, there's your Oceanian!
With some Padre bats starting to show symptoms of frostbite and light contracts looking to expire by the end of the season, it doesn't require any stretch of the imagination to start expecting to see any three of these names pop up in Padres headlines a la Kevin Quackenbush.
After all, it seems to be the San Diego sports staple right now; core players who don't produce also getting injured and thrown on lengthy DL tours. It leaves a lot up to our minor league systems. But if it's any consolation for spent money and wasted at bats; it's a MiLB system that is a top-rated goldmine of productive players to be very excited about.