Lets face it, the San Diego Padres aren't going anywhere in 2011. Despite a magical 2010 campaign, the Padres have returned to the NL West Cellar, lacking veteran prowess and any resemblance of a power hitting game.
To return to the playoffs, the Padres are going to need to rely heavily on their farm system to produce players that can play together under their limited salary cap (see Tampa Bay Devil Rays).
Here are a couple names you may not know that will be up in the Majors either at the end of this 2011 season or at some point during the 2012 season.
Take a look!
Casey Kelly is currently the top rated prospect in the Padres Minor League system. Brought over from the Adrian Gonzalez trade, Kelly immediately became the Padres best minor league pitcher. So far in Double-A San Antonio, Kelly is 11-6 with a 4.13 ERA. He has struck out 101 through 137 innings and has looked better as the year has progressed.
MLB.com says, "The No. 22 prospect on MLB.com's Top 50 list didn't have the greatest numbers last year, but his stuff still impressed. More experience should lead to better results, and he could be hitting PETCO Park by next season."
Look for Kelly to compete with Mat Latos down the line for clubhouse ace. Maybe some good competition will get Latos' head on straight.
Anthony Rizzo has been destroying AAA Tuscon. His hot streak earned him a short stint with the Padres where he floundered under the pressure of big league pitching. Rizzo hit a measly .143, with one home run and six RBIs in 98 at-bats so far in 2011. He still has a slight upper-cut and looked like he was trying to smash the ball out of the park every single at-bat.
Though he struggled in the majors during his short stint, he continued to light up AAA when he was sent back to Tuscon. That very next week after returning he won PCL player of the week honors while batting .538 with five home runs, 17 RBIs (the most for any player in a week span this season), 15 hits (ten of them extra base hits) and a gaudy 1.25 slugging percentage.
Look for Rizzo to make another appearance this season while he continues his development in AAA Tuscon. He could be the Padres next up and coming power threat. Remember, he is still only 22.
Simon Castro was supposed to come up to the San Diego Padres in the middle of the 2011 campaign, but has struggled so far at both AA San Antonio and AAA Tuscon. The 6'5", 210-pound right-hander out of the Dominican Republic has some electrifying stuff, but just needs to get his control under wraps. He does not walk a lot of people (a 5-1 K:BB ratio in AA San Antonio), but consistently leaves the ball up, resulting in him really getting hurt by the long ball—especially in 2011.
MLB.com says, "a Futures Gamer and Texas League All-Star a year ago...is ready to knock on the big league door. With his size and stuff, he's at least a workhorse, and at most more of a front-line starter."
Castro projects to be a 3-4 starter for the Padres in 2012 unless his struggles continue to persist. Either way, you will be seeing him in a big league jersey soon.
The former first round pick in 2008 (42nd overall) is beginning to live up to his pick status. Jaff Decker has been showing a lot pop from the left side of the plate, driving out 17 home runs and slugging .415 in 125 games this season with AA San Antonio.
MLB.com says, "he still showed the ability to hit for average, power and to get on base, especially after shaking off a rough start. Even with missed time, he moved up to Double-A in 2011, and his bat will carry him to the big leagues in the next couple of years."
Though he is only hitting .240 this year, Decker proved more than serviceable in the batting average department, hitting .352 at the age of 19. Look for Decker to rise up through the ranks quickly, as the Padres are really in need of some hitting at Petco Park.
His has considerable comparisons to John Kruk. Not just because he is a big boy at 5'10", 220 pounds, but because he is a lefty that can hit with power to all fields.
I think Padres fans will take that any day!
Joe Wieland is one of the new San Diego Padres that you may not know about. Wieland came over in the trade with the Texas Rangers for Mike Adams and has done very well so far in the Padres organization. In three starts at AA San Antonio, Wieland has a 3-0 record, with a 1.71 ERA and a 4-1 K:BB ratio. This is exactly what the Padres were hoping for when they got rid of the cut fastball specialist, Mike Adams.
Wieland projects to be a middle rotation pitcher for the Padres by 2013, but we will see him before then with some spot starts or bullpen duties. Padres Fans should be very excited with the prospects that they got from the Rangers.