It is a good time to be a Padres fan—or, rather, it will soon be. The big-league club is not expected to contend this year, but the farm system is among baseball’s best, and a new TV deal has ensured its long-term financial wellbeing.
Kevin Goldstein released his annual Top 101 prospects list on Monday, and the Padres—thanks to smart draft picks and shrewd trades—are all over it. The top future Friar is catcher Yasmani Grandal at number 38, but what the system lacks in elite prospects it makes up for with depth. Ten of the Padres’ young talents are considered among baseball’s 101 best; in other words, nearly 10 percent of baseball’s top talent resides in a single pipeline.
Before darting off to Chicago to reunite with Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and his assistant, Jason McLeod, did everything they could to stockpile prospects.
In an elite 2011 amateur draft class, San Diego snagged second baseman Cory Spangenberg (number 58), catcher Austin Hedges (94), and right-handed pitcher Joe Ross (95), three of the top prep players available. At the trade deadline, with the Rangers pining for reliever Mike Adams, Hoyer swindled Jon Daniels for lefty Robbie Erlin (53) and righty Joe Wieland (74). And in December, with the Reds desperate to add a frontline starter, new GM Josh Byrnes reeled in Grandal and first baseman Yonder Alonso (86) in exchange for Mat Latos. That means seven of baseball’s top 101 prospects were added to San Diego’s system during a span of just over six months.
And if that is not enough to make you jealous of Padres fans, the aforementioned TV rights deal that kicks in this year should. After earning just $15 million in the final year of their previous deal, the Padres will see their TV profits double in 2012 with the switch to FoxSports San Diego. The average annual fee the organization will receive over the 20-year hitch is currently disputed, but there is little doubt that Byrnes can soon expect looser purse strings from Chairman John Moores and CEO Jeff Moorad.
Put all of that together, and the Padres’ future looks awfully rosy. If the Top 101 list is any indication, San Diego should rival defending champion Arizona—which placed three pitchers in the top 37—by 2014, and become a force in the NL West for many years to come.