Fantasy Baseball Spotlight: San Diego Padres

So you've got the extreme home run environment of Colorado and the extreme pitchers park of Petco all situated in the same division. Does it even things out?

Maybe a little bit, but you're still going to be hard-pressed to find many draftable hitters on the Padres. The only one that's really ever conquered it has been Adrian Gonzalez, and now that they've traded away the key piece to that deal they'll be hopeful that his replacement's replacement can get the job done.

San Diego is not nearly the same team they were a year ago, let alone the team they were when they won back-to-back division titled in 2005-06. The Padres won 90 games in 2010 and then slumped to 2011 in the post-Gonzalez season. There top player in terms of bWAR last season: Nick Hundley.

Ouch.

Still, they've got some interesting players on the rise and a farm system that's universally ranked as a top five system in the game, if not the best. There's not a lot of superstar power on top, but the Padres 11-20 could rival many teams 1-10 in terms of prospect rankings. How much of that will affect their 2012 fantasy stardom? Let's take a look.

Best Hitter: Carlos Quentin

At this juncture, there's not a lot to work with here. The argument can be made for Cameron Maybin. The argument could be made for Yonder Alonso. But the best bet based on past performance compared to potential 2012 performance is with the veteran power-hitter Quentin.

Last season, the Padres leader in HR and RBI was Ryan Ludwick with 11 and 64. That's it. Now he's gone and the next best totals from last season? Hundley with 9 HR (and only 29 RBI) and Jesus Guzman, Chase Headley, and Will Venable tied for 44 RBI.

Not good.

Bring on Quentin, the two-time All Star that was traded for prospects Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez. (A steal of a deal if you ask me.) CQ hit .254/.340/.499 last season with 24 HR, 77 RBI and 31 2B in 118 games. The biggest issue in Quentin's career is the fact that he's never played more than 131 games. He's proven to be one of the most fragile players in MLB, averaging 120 games per season over the last four years.

Maybe he should stop getting hit by so many pitches, in only 118 games he led the league with 23 HBPs.

There will be an exception with his power numbers this season playing in Petco, but he's the best shot that the Padres have at a true middle-of-the-order hitter this year. Expect: 120 games, 20 HR, 65 RBI and .250/.340/.490.

Best Pitcher: Edinson Volquez

I know, I'm as shocked as you are. This is the way of the 2012 Padres.

They let Ludwick walk (which is fine) and replaced him with Quentin. They traded away Mat Latos, which was understandable considering the package they received included hitters and Volquez. He was a surprise star in 2008 when he struck out 206 batters in 196 innings with a 3.21 ERA, but injuries have failed him ever since.

Seems like the Padres are taking a chance on injuries this season.

Last year he made 20 starts and struck out 104 batters in 108.2 innings but he gave up 19 HR and ended up with a 5.71 ERA. However, now that he plays in Petco, we might see fewer home runs with the same amount of strikeouts and an ERA closer to 4.00 than to 5.00.

He just needs to make 30 starts and I believe Volquez will prove worthy of a fantasy roster this season. He has no real competition in San Diego at the moment, with pitchers like Tim Stauffer just being "he is what he is" type players without the kind of K ceiling that Volquez has.

Huston Street could be a top closer in San Diego, but still carries risks and the reward isn't as great as the potential reward of Volquez.

Potential Breakout: Cameron Maybin

Well, he had a breakout last season but how much more breakout can Maybin get?

He was pretty inconsistent, but over the last 81 games of the season he hit .276/.332/.397 with 16 2B, 4 HR, 33 SB and 56 R. He scored 56 runs in half a season with the Padres. That's amazing. However, he hit .244/.308/.388 in his first 56 games of the season.

Let's hope that his final 81 games are what he carries into 2012. Then he could be a 100-run 50-60 SB threat with 10+ home runs.

Potential Disappointment: Everyone

There's not a sure thing on this roster anymore. A lot will be expected of the rookies as time goes on, with Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal hopefully being the ones that turn the Padres into a respectable-hitting ballclub. Not to mention the fact that just because you pitch in Petco half of the time, doesn't mean I'm going to trust my fantasy pitching to Dustin Moseley and Clayton Richard.

With Latos and Heath Bell gone, who are you really trusting in San Diego to do anything? There are hopefuls, but that's it. Don't rely on Padres to carry your team in anything, outside of maybe Street as a sure-thing closer.

Prospect Watch: From BA

1. Anthony Rizzo, 1b Yonder Alonso, 1b and Yasmani Grandal, c
2. Rymer Liriano, of
3. Casey Kelly, rhp
4. Cory Spangenberg, 2b
5. Austin Hedges, c
6. Jedd Gyorko, 3b
7. Joe Wieland, rhp
8. Robbie Erlin, lhp
9. Joe Ross, rhp
10. Keyvius Sampson, rhp

With a little fudging from their list pre-Rizzo and pre-Latos deals, we can expect that the Pads top 10 starts with Alonso and Grandal, the players that John Sickels ranked as the tops in San Diego.

Alonso has 127 PAs at the major league level with Cincinnati and hit .299/.354/.479 with 5 HR and 18 RBI. He doesn't have the same power potential as what Rizzo had, but should hit for average, with decent power and be a middle round option for 1B in the future. I see him as Gaby Sanchez with a little more upside.

Grandal has hit .303/.401/.488 in 113 minor league games with 14 HR and 32 doubles. He's got excellent offensive potential from the catching position which could make him a great late-round pickup in keeper leagues. He should start in AAA but could see the majors by mid-season.

Liriano stole 66 bases in 131 minor league games last year at age 20, but he was caught 21 times. He hit .298/.365/.465 with 12 HR and 31 2B with 9 3B. He won't see the majors this year.

Kelly was the other big pieces of the Adrian Gonzalez deal. He threw 142.1 innings last season with 105/46 K/BB ratio. He's still only 22, and should start the year in AAA but knowing San Diego, it won't be surprising to see him in the majors soon.

Wieland and Erlin were acquired from the Rangers in the Mike Adams deal. Wieland was excellent, posting a 150/21 K/BB in 155.2 innings with a 1.97 ERA. Erlin went 154/16 in 147.1 innings with a 2.99 ERA. They're both still very young, but could start the year in AAA and see the majors in September.

Follow me on Twitter or check out my website with a review of the Oscars up today.

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