The San Diego Padres 2013 Arizona Fall League participants will be playing for the Peoria Javelinas, along with prospects from the Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies, and Kansas City Royals. The Astros will be sending seven players to Arizona - four pitchers, a catcher, and two infielders.
Johnny Barbato, RHP - The Padres paid Barbato a lot of money, $1.4 million, for a guy who is probably going to end up being a reliever. At least it looks like he could be a good one. The Padres used Barbato as a starter in seven games in 2013, during which he struck out 6.3 batters per nine innings. In his 42 relief appearances, he fanned 10.3 K/9. His two pitch mix of a mid-90's fastball and power curve make him a good fit for the back end of a bullpen, and focusing on a relief role could allow the 20-year-old to move quickly. He didn't exactly dominate the California League, so he could head back there again next season, but a lot of pitchers move on without posting good numbers there, so pushing him to Double-A wouldn't be a huge jump either.
Adys Portillo, RHP - The AFL will be a big chance for Portillo to make up ground for a 2013 season in which he threw only 9 1/3 innings thanks to a lingering lat and triceps injury. Missed time is exceptionally bad for a player like Portillo, who has a powerful fastball but off-speed pitches which remain unrefined. His control is poor and needs to be reigned in as well, both of which can only be fixed with time on the mound. He's dabbled in Low-A Fort Wayne for a few years now and needs to get healthy and prove he can throw strikes and handle better hitters.
Keyvius Sampson, RHP - The Padres were probably hoping for a little more development out of Sampson, but he's remained healthy after a spotty start to his career, so at least there's that. Sampson will be a big leaguer, and can probably remain as a starter, although his control is fringy, so that will make him a back-of-the-rotation guy. If not, he could be a decent bullpen arm, but there's more value in using him in the rotation. He reached Triple-A for nine starts this season, so he should begin 2014 there and will probably be one of the arms called upon by the Padres when they need additional starters during the season.
Burch Smith, RHP - As a big time strike-thrower, Smith is a good fit for Petco park. He has a power fastball that helps him miss bats, but his best skill is the ability to pound the strike zone. That has served him well thus far, getting him to Triple-A this season while striking out more than a batter per inning. Despite his velocity, he doesn't project as a front-end guy because his breaking pitches are just average, but he should have a nice career pitching in the back of the Padres rotation at Petco.
Austin Hedges - If you like the nuiances of catching defense, Hedges is your guy. Generally regarded as the best defensive catching prospect in the minors, Hedges has a long future in the majors because of that skill alone. He's not a great hitter, but he's good enough that, when paired with his defense, he's an everyday guy. If he makes a few strides with the bat, he'll be a star. If not, he should still be a starting catcher in the big leagues for as long as his health will allow.
Tommy Medica, 1B - A converted catcher, Medica has the power to play at first base, although we haven't seen much of it in a short stint in the majors this September. He's already 25 so the time is now for Medica to show that he can contribute. He'll be in the Padres plans for next season, not necessarily as a starter, but as a guy who sees a decent amount of at bats between first base and possibly left field.
Cory Spangenberg, 2B - A former first round pick, Spangenberg came on quickly in 2011 after being drafted but has yet to repeat that performance in full-season ball. He doesn't have a ton of power so he needs to be close to a .300 hitter to have value at the plate, but the California League is the only place he's been able to do that, which is always a red flag. He hit well at Lake Elsinore this season but was below-average after a promotion to the Texas League. He'll head back there next season, but he needs to show more with the bat if he wants to be an everyday player.