For the second straight season the San Diego Padres boast a top-five farm system thanks to a healthy mix of developing prospects and big-league-ready talent.
The organization has a new top prospect this season in catcher Austin Hedges, a 20-year-old whose defensive prowess makes him a safe bet to reach the major leagues. Meanwhile, the rest of the Padres’ prospect pool contains a slew of talent poised to contribute in a big way in 2013, including outfielder Rymer Liriano, right-hander Casey Kelly, infielder Jedd Gyorko, southpaw Robbie Erlin and groundball-machine Donn Roach.
Mixed in amongst their future big leaguers are numerous high-ceiling pitching prospects in Max Fried, Joe Ross and Matt Wisler, each of whom was acquired via the draft over the last two seasons.
The Padres aren’t as far away from contending in the National League West as it may seem, and should be regarded as a sleeper headed into the 2013 season. With the amount of depth on the farm, they could even swing a trade for an impact big-leaguer at some point during the year.