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Upside in San Diego

With all the transactions flying down in San Diego, there are opportunities galore for young talent to get playing time and emerge as fantasy stars.

San Diego Padres v Washington Nationals
Who is this? Why it’s Ryan Schimpf, part of a wave of fresh faces in San Diego this year.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

You may have heard that A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres have been busy lately trading players away at a rapid rate. Here is the full list of major league players they have sent packing this season: Matt Kemp (Atlanta), Jedd Gyorko (St. Louis), Andrew Cashner, Fernando Rodney, and Colin Rea (Miami), Drew Pomeranz (Boston) and Melvin Upton, Jr. (Toronto). Phew. That was from memory, so I might have missed a few lesser transactions as well. That’s a lot of talent leaving the roster. Rumors (early on July 31 as I am writing this) have Derek Norris possibly leaving as well.

This means two things: the Padres are going to be even more unwatchable in the last two months of the season and there are going to be tons of opportunities for young talent in the organization to emerge. That last point is why fantasy owners should care about all these trades.

We’ve already seen some fantasy fruit from these moves. Ryan Schimpf has gotten more playing time recently and has produced unexpected results. He is all of 5’9” tall, yet he’s currently slugging 0.562 with 9 homers in just 127 PA. This level of power isn’t sustainable for him, but he has hit for power throughout the minors, with 23+ HR in 2013, 2014, and 2015. He already had 15 HR in 190 PA in AAA this year. He strikes out a lot, but his stout walk rate shows he does have some discipline.

If you think of him as a second base Chris Carter, I think you are on the right track with his value. That kind of power in the middle infield is hard to find and OBP leagues should have already picked him up. His batting average will probably hang out in the low .200s, however. He’s 28 years old, so not super young but still in his prime, so no decline should be expected yet.

Alex Dickerson is another one that has emerged after the trade of Melvin Upton, Jr. He is hitting for power and stealing bases. Based on his minor league track record, he’s more of a 15-20 HR guy than his current 30+ HR pace, but his strikeout rate has been stellar. He’s only 26 and his 0.265 BABIP is surprisingly low for a guy with his speed and ability to put the ball in play. Even with that awful BABIP, his average is 0.286.

His excellent strikeout rate should keep his batting average in the 0.280 and up range all year and help him get on base to steal some bases, but stealing isn’t really a big part of his game. He hasn’t stolen more than 4 in any minor league season since 2013. I think he will find a way to stick around long term, even with guys I will mention next pounding on the door. I really like him for fantasy and he should be owned everywhere.

I’m not a prospect hound, but I do know that Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe are top prospects in San Diego’s system and top 50 overall in baseball. Both are dominating in AAA right now. Renfroe has 25 HR and a 0.321/0.349/0.585 line, while Margot has a 0.304/0.355/0.428 line with 24 steals. Now, El Paso is a very friendly place for hitters, but still, those lines are promising. According to Rotowire, the Padres have already said that Renfroe won’t be up until September, so his call-up is not imminent, but they also pulled Margot from the AAA lineup on 7/30 and he might be up by the time you read this after Kemp’s trade.

The 2017 Padres outfield could be completely different than the 2016 one. My current guess would be Dickerson in left, Margot in center, and Renfroe in right. Now is the time to get these guys. Renfroe could be a good power hitter with a decent average, Margot could hit for average with 20 steals, and I already told you about Dickerson.

I’m not going to discuss the rotation much. Yes, they just dumped two starters but their replacements just aren’t good and there isn’t much in the minors that is fantasy relevant.

If Derek Norris is moved, Austin Hedges could get the call. He’s had fun in El Paso this year, hitting 0.352/0.395/0.684 with 17 HR in 210 PA. It could just be the elevation of El Paso, but some scouts have said he has changed his approach and that explains his huge power surge. The elevation alone can’t account for him going from 6 HR in 2014 (his last full season) to 17 this year. He is worth a pick up if he gets the call on the chance that his new swing carries over to San Diego.

There are a lot of changes happening with the Friars and it is giving (and will continue to give) some young players with upside a chance to become valuable fantasy contributors. Don’t miss out on this rare chance to grab young talent with full time opportunities. Tschus!