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Padres 2015 Preview: Prospects on the Horizon

A look at what prospects could have an impact for the Padres in the near future.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Impact Prospects:

SP Matt Wisler - The Padres’ best and brightest pitching prospect. And as John Sickels states there’s nothing wrong with being projected as a #3 starter. While a future ace would be nice, the future also needs guys that can plug into the rotation and get results. The Padres will definitely need that with a starter reaching free agency in each of the next 4 seasons (Kennedy after 2015, Cashner after 2016, Ross after 2017 and Shields after 2018). Makes you wish the organization had more Wislers. Wisler himself looks like he needs another season in AAA and then he’ll be ready to take on the major leagues.

OF Rymer Liriano - For those that were paying attention to the Padres in 2014, there was a bit of excitement when Liriano got called up. It’s been a long time since the major league club had such a toolsy young player. The problem with a 5 tool player is that you are never sure about 2 of those tools (hitting and power) can play in the majors until they prove in the majors. Liriano didn’t prove it last year, but fortunately with the new glut of quality OFs now at the major league level he will get another year in AAA to hone his craft.

OF Hunter Renfroe - This offseason saw the Padres trade away 5 prospects that were former 1st round picks as well as lose a future 1st rounder in order to sign James Shields. Renfroe, the 2013 1st round selection, still remains and perhaps that says a lot about the future the Padres see in him. He has excellent power, but perhaps doesn’t make contact enough to fully utilize it going forward. He should reach AAA this year and compete next year with Liriano for a major league spot should one open up.

C Austin Hedges - Hedges has been much hyped ever since the Padres drafted him and signed him away from a UCLA commitment. However, there has been hesitation to call him the Padres catcher of the future. One reason is because first Yasmani Grandal and now Derek Norris were ahead of him as young promising catchers who were already on the major league squad. The other reason is that is bat is a big question mark. He’s such a good backstop that his defense may make up for his lack of pop, but there is also hope that some offensive development could occur once he gets accustomed to the rigors of catching 100+ games a year. Now that he has a couple of those seasons under his belt, the time is now to see if that theory holds any water.

SP Casey Kelly - Kelly made his major league debut back in 2012, so it is hard to still think of him as prospect. However, he still will qualify as a rookie the next season he returns to the big leagues. An elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery as well as a number of setbacks that followed that recovery have shelved him for the last couple of years, but this year could finally be that rookie season by technicality that awaits him. Some say he still has #3 starter potential just like the aforementioned Wisler, and the Padres need those just like was mentioned earlier as well, but only future health can fulfill that promise.

Future Contributors:

RP Tyron Guerrero - Guerrero is a 6’7 Colombian who represented the Padres in last year’s futures game played at the All Star break. He throws hard and generates plenty of whiffs, but only in short stints. Look for him in a future bullpen.

1B/OF Tommy Medica - Medica looks like he’ll get elbowed out of a roster spot after spending most of 2014 with the big club. He still has promise as a right handed bench bat and should get a call this season should the need for one of those arise.

1B/OF Alex Dickerson - Dickerson probably would have got playing time on last year’s offensively-needy club, but he missed that season due to injury. Healthy again, the left hander looks to force the club to give him a chance either this year or next.

2B/3B Cory Spangenberg - Like Renfroe, Spangenberg is a part of the 1st round pick survivor’s club. From the day he was drafted his upside never looked too high, but he has wheels and is learning to play multiple positions so a utility role is in his future.

2B/3B Taylor Lindsey - Acquired in the Huston Street trade, Lindsey was one of the more well known prospects the Padres got in return. 2013 saw him tear up AA, but 2014 didn’t go so well. 2015 will have him looking to recapture his form and press the Padres for playing time should things not go well for them at the keystone or hot corner.