As the 2011 season enters the beginning of the end, teams with no realistic shot at postseason glory will use the month of September as an audition to players who they hope can become a significant part of the team's future.
The San Diego Padres are no exception.
In fact, several top prospects within the organization have already seen significant playing time throughout the entire season.
Not surprising given this is the team's first season of the post-Adrian Gonzalez era.
With the team stuck in a sort of "rebuilding" era, there are several young prospects looking to make a name for themselves, and give the Friar Faithful a glimpse of things to come.
Although Darnell has played three games in the outfield thus far for the Padres, he is a natural third baseman, and the recent injury of Chase Headley opens the way for him to consistently prove his worth in the Padres' lineup.
Hitting .272 in Tucson and .333 in San Antonio, Darnell has ability at the plate and it should be no surprise that his rise through the minor league system will continue with a steady roster spot in San Diego with the expansion of rosters to 40.
Another strength to Darnell's game is his glove, committing only two errors in Tucson while splitting time between third base and the outfield. One would assume that if called upon to roam Petco Park's spacious outfield, his capable glove and quick feet could assure him a constant spot in the San Diego lineup.
Tekotte, 24, has had trouble finding consistency at the plate during his two stints with San Diego this season.
Despite starting off with a bang in his first major league start with a triple and a double, the young outfielder has only managed a .182 batting average in 39 plate appearances.
However, aside from Cameron Maybin in center field, the Padres outfield is essentially a revolving door and that leaves Tekotte with room to continue to improve as a potentially consistent bat in the Padres' lineup.
In 89 games with Double-A San Antonio, Tekotte is hitting .294 with an OBP of .407, proving he can get on base consistently, and his 32 stolen bases show he can wreak havoc once he is on the basepaths.
Until recently, Guzman would have never been on this list, but a .348 average with five homers and 31 RBI through 48 games will land the 27-year-old Venezuelan among good company on a list such as this.
While Anthony Rizzo is the presumed future at first base, Guzman has surprised Padres fans and front office types alike with his consistent play at first base, leaving some to wonder if the club should bring him back at first base for the 2012 campaign as well. It would be tough to argue against a move such as that.
Guzman has registered 15 multi-hit games thus far, and has increased his batting average each month since being called up from Triple-A Tucson on June 17.
Rizzo, who came to San Diego from Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, is widely believed to be the best position player in the Padres farm system.
In 35 games as a Padre call-up, he managed only a .143 average, but continues to terrorize pitching in Triple-A, batting .355 with 23 homers and 93 RBI in 77 games with Tucson.
It's all but certain that the young Florida native will see time at first base once the rosters expand, and don't be surprised if he improves on the numbers from his previous stint with the Friars.
Although Guzman is providing an excellent option for the time being at first base for the Padres, there is little doubt that Rizzo will be the future at the position, replacing the very same player he was traded for.
Kyle Blanks has been on the radar for Padres fans since the 2009 season, but a Tommy John Surgery in 2010 slowed his progression after beginning the year on the opening-day roster for San Diego.
He has certainly made his most recent call-up to the Padres a productive one, posting a .346 average in the month of August with three homers and 10 RBI in 15 games.
Blanks has been a source of optimism for Padres fans in recent years, as the 6'6", 270-pound outfielder is looked upon as a power threat, even within the cavernous dimensions of Petco Park.
Regardless of his power numbers, Blanks is looking to solidify his place in the Padres' lineup once and for all as he will be a mainstay in the San Diego order as the season winds down.
Some might remember him as the lanky pitcher who made a name for himself during the College World Series as a member of the Arizona State Sun Devils, but these days he is making himself known as a staple in the San Diego bullpen.
The lefty from Australia has posted a 2.01 ERA and a very impressive 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings, despite relying almost exclusively on slow breaking pitches and a fastball that, when thrown, hovers in the upper 80s.
When Mike Adams was dealt to the Rangers, a slot in the Padres' bullpen opened up, and although Chad Qualls seems to have Adams' setup role for the time being, Spence has established himself as a reliable arm out of the 'pen.
At 23 years old, the Padres must assume that Spence will be a steady presence in the bullpen in years to come, and could likely take over the duty of "long reliever," which, until recently, was the duty of Cory Luebke, until he found his way into the starting rotation.
Drake Smith contributes for the San Diego Padres on Bleacher Report. For more Padres articles, follow him on Twitter, @ImDrakeSmith