12/05/10 9:12 PM EST
Hoyer bolsters farm system with Gonzalez deal
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
"The upper levels right now, we don't have position players who are ready to contribute next year," Hoyer said in October. "That has got to be our job. We have to have a farm system that is turning out two to three players from year to year."
One way to do that, of course, is through the Draft, and Hoyer and his staff will have five picks in the top 60 of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Another way is to do what Hoyer did over the weekend, when he traded first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox for three highly regarded players -- right-handed pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Reymond Fuentes -- and a player to be named.
"I think the Padres found the right trading partner in the Red Sox, a team with deep pockets and a deep farm system. It's never desirable to have to trade an Adrian Gonzalez away, but I think the Padres did well to add to the coffer of young players they already have," said MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
"Rizzo is now the heir apparent at first base, and Kelly has the chance to be a rotation mainstay. Even better, both are probably a year, or less, away. And Fuentes gives the system a premium athlete with some baseball skills."
It can be argued that Kelly and Rizzo are now the top prospects in the Padres' Minor League system, likely followed by right-hander Simon Castro, a homegrown product who will likely open the season with Triple-A Tucson.
So what kind of players did the Padres land for Gonzalez, a three-time All-Star and a two-time Gold Glove winner?
How about some familiar faces?
Trading an iconic figure is never easy, nor is finding a capable and willing partner. But in the Red Sox the Padres found a unique and familiar partner.
Hoyer was formerly an assistant GM under Boston GM Theo Epstein. Jason McLeod -- Hoyer's first hire, who runs the scouting and player development department -- ran Boston's drafts as director of amateur scouting from 2004 to 2009.
In fact, it was McLeod who was responsible for the Drafts that netted Kelly, Rizzo and Fuentes for Boston in the first place.
The Padres didn't receive any players with Major League experience or even any who are Major League ready, although the package of Kelly-Rizzo-Fuentes provides an immediate influx of talent to a farm system that is devoid of Major League-ready players.
Kelly, considered the gem of the deal, was ranked by Baseball America as Boston's top Minor League prospect. He was the 30th overall selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft as a shortstop, though he moved to the mound midway through 2009.
At 21, he was the youngest player in the Double-A Eastern League in 2010 and, in his first full season on the mound, went 3-5 with a 5.31 ERA. He showed good velocity and an advance handle on a changeup, which is often a difficult pitch for a young player to harness.
Kelly projects as a No. 2 or 3 starter in the Major Leagues. There's a good chance he could open the 2011 season back in Double-A, though that hasn't been determined.
In Rizzo, 21, the Padres might have their eventual successor to Gonzalez, and one with striking similarities. He's a left-handed hitter with power to all fields and a discerning eye at the plate, and a good defensive first baseman.
As a 20-year-old, he hit 25 home runs and drove in 100 runs in 136 games between Class A Salem and Double-A Portland. He did strike out 100 times in 414 at-bats after being promoted to Portland. He could begin the season with Triple-A Tucson.
Rizzo, a sixth-round pick in 2007, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in May 2008. He appeared in 21 games that season, but after radiation and chemotherapy treatment, he was declared cancer-free later that year.
Of the three players the Padres obtained, Fuentes, 20, is the farthest from being a finished product. He was the 28th overall pick in the 2009 Draft out of a high school in Puerto Rico. He stole 42 bases at Class A Greenville and is also considered a plus defender, something the Padres covet.