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4/8/2013 11:28 A.M. ET

Pitching depth abundant in Padres' farm system

Lake Elsinore well-rounded; San Antonio stacked with arms like Roach, Smith

SAN DIEGO -- There's certainly a lot to like about the Padres' four full-season affiliates, where some of the top prospects in the Minor Leagues will play this season.

"The overall depth we have is better than it's been in a long time," said vice president of player development and international scouting Randy Smith.

"There are a lot of good, young arms in the system. There are a lot of guys who are close to reaching the big leagues."

To be sure, the Padres are heavy in terms of pitching prospects, three of whom they acquired during the 2012 First-Year Player Draft -- Max Fried, Zach Eflin and Walker Weickel. All three are playing for Class A Fort Wayne.

There are others -- like right-handers Justin Hancock and Burch Smith, two big arms who routinely top out around 97 mph -- who could move quickly through the system.

where to watch
Where the Padres' Top 20 prospects are starting the season:
Rank Player Team Level
1 Jedd Gyorko San Diego MLB
2 Max Fried Ft. Wayne A
3 Rymer Liriano DL  
4 Casey Kelly DL  
5 Austin Hedges Lake Elsinore A+
6 Adys Portillo DL  
7 Joe Wieland DL  
8 Matthew Wisler Lake Elsinore A+
9 Robbie Erlin Tucson AAA
10 Cory Spangenberg Lake Elsinore A+
11 Zach Eflin Ft. Wayne A
12 Jace Peterson Lake Elsinore A+
13 Joe Ross Ft. Wayne A
14 Walker Weickel Ft. Wayne A
15 Donn Roach San Antonio AA
16 Keyvius Sampson Tucson AAA
17 John Barbato Lake Elsinore A+
18 Brad Boxberger Tucson AAA
19 Kevin Quackenbush San Antonio AA
20 Burch Smith San Antonio AA
Click here for the complete Top 20 list on Prospect Watch.

Another name to keep an eye on is righty Donn Roach, who impressed the big league staff in Spring Training. He tossed five scoreless innings his first time out on Thursday.

Minor League Baseball is under way, and you can keep track of the Padres' top prospects throughout the season on MLBPipeline.com and Prospect Watch. Get scores, stats, news, schedules, tickets and more for all of San Diego's Minor League teams on MLBPipeline.com/padres.

Stacked squads
What does Smith like about the Lake Elsinore roster? In a word: everything.

"The Lake Elsinore club basically has a prospect at every position," Smith said. "… You have players like [Matthew] Wisler, [Austin] Hedges and [outfielder Travis] Jankowski. It's a club that's loaded with prospects."

Infielders Jace Peterson and Cory Spangenberg will also play for Lake Elsinore. Both are highly regarded players. Spangenberg was 7-for-14 with eight steals in his first three games.

The pitching staff in San Antonio looks formidable, with starters Roach and Smith and relief pitchers Kevin Quackenbush and Matt Stiles. Stiles is making the jump from Fort Wayne, skipping over Lake Elsinore.

Debuts and draftees
Left-hander Fried, the seventh overall Draft pick in 2012, tossed 17 2/3 innings in his professional debut, so he'll get his first full pro season with Fort Wayne. Right-hander Eflin (33rd overall) threw seven innings last summer and another righty, Weickel, the 55th overall Draft pick, got 14 innings. The Padres will keep all three together this season in Fort Wayne.

New kids on the block
Roach, who will begin the season in San Antonio, is new to San Diego's list of top prospects (No. 15) after he was acquired from the Angels last May. Keep an eye on Roach in 2013. Even though the team likely will keep his innings around 150-160, he could move quickly, especially with his plus sinker.

Teams on TV
The San Antonio Missions and Tucson Padres are among a growing number of teams whose games are available on MiLB.TV. The 2013 MiLB.TV package will include more than 3,500 Minor League games streamed live, as well as games archived for on-demand streaming soon after completion.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.