MLB San Diego Padres

5 San Diego Padres Prospects You Must Watch During Spring Training

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San Diego Padres: Prospects To Watch During Spring Training

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres are a week away from pitchers and catchers reporting, effectively beginning Spring Training 2014. There has been much movement in the organization in terms of the roster. Josh Byrnes and the front office have done an upheaval to the pitching in the offseason. After seeing young prospects like Robbie Erlin and Cory Luebke go down early in 2013, the Padres went dumpster diving and brought up more minor league arms to see who can pitch at the major league level.

Once October hit, the staff decided to part ways with many of those same young arms that weren’t cutting it in a Padres uniform. Gone are Brad Brach, Brad Boxberger, Tommy Layne, and Anthony Bass to name a few. With a lot of mediocre arms shipping out, Byrnes’ offseason focus was to stack talent in pitching.

Right now, one can assume Josh Johnson, Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross, and Eric Stults comprise the Padres starting rotation in 2014. With a breakout 2013 season from Padres prospects Will Venable and Everth Cabrera (before steroid reports were confirmed), the organization feels confident in their ability to score and manufacture runs. Acquiring major league arms like Johnson, Joaquin Benoit, and Alex Torres sends messages of commitment to win in 2014 and 2015.

In order to keep pace with the rest of the NL West, the Padres must put together solid outings from their starters, and then protect their leads so they can hand the ball to Benoit and Huston Street.

With their 40-man lineup and their 18 non-roster invitees, there are some interesting prospects that challenge those last roster spots. But besides the bullpen pitching, there are noteworthy players worth monitoring. Here are the five Padres players that need to be watched this spring.

Erwin Mendoza is a contributing writer for Follow him on Twitter @erwinsports, or add him to your network on Google.

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Matt Wisler RHP

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Wisler is a pitcher who’s been in the Padres farm system since 2011. In 2013, he posted a composite 10-6 record, a 2.78 ERA, 1.029 WHIP, and 3.97 SO/BB ratio between High A-Lake Elsinore and AA-San Antonio. He is currently the best pitcher in the Padres farm system, so there is an outside chance that he sees action in the bullpen this season. Unless major injuries run rampant again, expect Wisler to stay in AA to start the season.

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Patrick Schuster LHP

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When San Diego dealt Joe Thatcher to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the deal left San Diego without a reliable lefty-specialist in the pen. Schuster LHP was acquired from the Houston Astros in the Rule 5 Draft this offseason, but the Padres already acquired Alex Torres, also a lefty reliever, in a five-for-two trade from the Tampa Bay Rays. Though some reports have Torres as an all-around reliever because of his right-handed BA falls below the Mendoza line. It’ll be interesting to see if the Padres make room for Schuster as the second lefty in the bullpen.

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Austin Hedges C

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While Wisler might be the best pitcher in the system, Hedges is heralded as the best position player in the Padres' farm system. Right now the Padres have Nick Hundley, Rene Rivera, and Yasmani Grandal at catcher. Hedges is an interesting player to watch because his play could give Rivera a run for his money at the second/third catcher on the chart, depending on when Grandal returns from his injury.

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Tommy Medica 1B

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At the end of last season Yonder Alonso found himself on the DL and gave some starting time to Medica to get a call up to the majors. Though, not tied to any steroid scandals, his numbers dropped from 2012 to 2013. In 2012, he recorded 39 doubles, .271 BA, and his .741 OPS was decent, but injuries got his doubles to 11, .281 BA and OPS to .710.

In Medica’s 19 games, he hit .290 BA, an OPS of .829, and hit two doubles and three homeruns. It’s going to be interesting to see if Medica puts on a performance to warrant a spot on the bench to start the 2014 regular season.

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Cameron Maybin CF

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Though not a prospect, Maybin's health and play is his suspect. Brynes acquired Seth Smith OF from the Oakland A’s in return for Luke Gregerson. Smith is primed for LF, as Carlos Quentin’s health is always an issue. But during last year, the Chris Denorfia and Venable platoon worked to give Venable a career year.

Where does that leave Maybin? He’s coming off a lost season and hasn’t seen much duty since his earlier days with San Diego. He has $15 million on the books from the Padres, so it's hard to believe he'll simply get cut. Maybin’s speed and defense is easily an upgrade over Alexi Amarista, but his bat has to answer the doubters this spring training.