Outfielder Manuel Margot (No. 45) and shortstop Javier Guerra (No. 58), acquired from the Red Sox in November in the Craig Kimbrel deal, are among the top prospects in the game, as is outfielder Hunter Renfroe (No. 92).
The annual ranking of baseball's Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams.
Only players with rookie status entering the 2016 season are eligible for the list. The rankings follow the guidelines laid out by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, in terms of who falls under the international pool money rules: Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
Margot, 21, hit a combined .276/.324/.419 with six home runs, 50 RBIs and 39 steals between Class A Advanced and Double-A. He played in 64 Double-A games and could start there again, though many feel he can move quickly.
He was regarded by many to be the best athlete in the Red Sox's system. Margot was the starting center fielder for the World Team in the Futures Game.
"In Margot, you get a two-way player [offense and defense], tons of contact, up the middle, premium defender. That's something we needed to add to the organization," Preller said.
Guerra, 20, hit .279/.329/.449 with 15 home runs and 68 RBIs last season at Class A Greenville. His power showed up for the first time as a pro in 2015 -- he also hit 23 doubles.
"He's a shortstop who can flat-out play the position," Preller said of Guerra.
In Margot and Guerra, the Padres' future, in terms of being strong up the middle, got a big boost.
Renfroe, who pegs best as a corner outfielder, hit a combined .272/.321/.462 with 20 home runs, 27 doubles and 78 RBIs between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso. He will likely begin the season in El Paso but might not be far off from reaching the big leagues. He turned 24 on Thursday.
Last winter, Preller traded away many of the organization's top prospects, including pitcher Joe Ross and shortstop Trea Turner, in order to complete deals for Justin Upton and Wil Myers. Ross and Turner appeared in the big leagues last season with the Nationals.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.