MADISON, February 18, 2014 — Over the next few weeks this column will unveil MLB Power Rankings starting with the weakest team and working towards the strongest. Today the process continues by looking at number 23, the San Diego Padres.
2013 Record: 76-86 with a -82 run differential.
Key Additions: RHP Josh Johnson, RHP Joaquin Benoit, IF Ryan Jackson, OF Seth Smith, LHP Alex Torres and RHP Jesse Hahn
Key Losses: LHP Clayton Richard, RHP Anthony Bass, OF Jesus Guzman, RHP Luke Gregerson, IF Logan Forsythe and RHP Brad Boxberger
Projected 2014 Lineup:
SS Everth Cabrera
OF Will Venable
3B Chase Headley
OF Carlos Quentin
1B Yonder Alonso
2B Jedd Gyorko
OF Seth Smith
C Nick Hundley/Yasmani Grandal
Projected 2014 Rotation:
Tyson Ross/Robbie Erlin/Casey Kelly
Best Case: Everth Cabrera returns from his suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal to lead the NL in SB’s. Chase Headley has a season closer to 2012 than 2013. Carlos Quentin manages to stay healthy for a full season and while his numbers don’t approach his 2010 numbers, he provides steady production for a full year. Jedd Gyorko builds on his rookie slash line of .249/.301/.444. Yonder Alonso develops a bit more power to go with his solid on base skills. Josh Johnson makes good on his one-year contract and throws 175 innings providing a go to pitcher for the rotation. Tyson Ross maintains his elevated strikeout percentage and throws 160 innings. Huston Street stays healthy all year, allowing the Padres to use Joaquin Benoit in the seventh and eighth innings. The Padres stay in contention all year and finish second in the NL West, but fail to get an NL Wild Card.
Worst Case: Andrew Cashner and Josh Johnson both continue to have health issues forcing the Padres to turn to Robbie Erlin and Casey Kelly. Everth Cabrera struggles after his extended layoff last year. Chase Headley continues to show that his 2012 season power was nothing more than a mirage. Jedd Gyorko sees his strikeout percentage rise from last year’s 23.4%. Carlos Quentin gets hurt early leaving a big hole in the middle of the Padres lineup. The Padres finish last in the NL West after selling off more relievers at the trade deadline.
Prospect Watch: C Austin Hedges is widely considered the best defensive catching prospect in all of baseball. His bat may take time to catch up to his defense though, as he hit .260/.333/.390 across two levels, finishing the year at AA. The Padres also have a couple of prized pitching prospects in the minors in Max Fried and Matt Wisler. Fried spent last year in Class A logging 118.2 innings with a 3.49 ERA and 100 strikeouts. Wisler pitched across two levels with the bulk of time spent at AA throwing 136 innings with a 2.78 ERA and 131 strikeouts. It is likely that all three of these prospects will spend another year in the minors and will not have an impact until 2015.