Espinoza leads three Padres prospects in Top 100

San Diego also lands Margot (No. 36), Renfroe (No. 52) on midseason list

Espinoza leads three Padres prospects in Top 100

SAN DIEGO -- It'll be a few years before the Padres' commitment to restock their farm system pays off on the field. But on paper at least, the improvement is beginning to show.

MLB.com released its prospect rankings for each organization Thursday, and the Padres' Top 30 list is littered with recent arrivals. Seven of the Friars' top eight prospects and 18 of their top 30 overall have been acquired since the end of the 2015 season.

In total, three San Diego prospects were listed among the game's 100 best -- with Anderson Espinoza at No. 21, Manny Margot at No. 36 and Hunter Renfroe at No. 52. The organization ranks 15th overall in prospect points, which account for all players among the top 100.

The newfound depth of the system is more impressive. Of the list's 18 newcomers, the Padres acquired five apiece through the Draft and international signings and eight via trade over the past nine months.

"You start to feel the excitement from the player development staff," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller earlier this month. "They're seeing talented players, and guys that they feel have a chance to come up here and impact at Petco [Park]. That's big. ... When you get these guys all on the field together, that's what we've been building for."

The ranking of baseball's top prospects is done 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 are eligible for the list. The rankings follow the Collective Bargaining Agreement guidelines for which players fall 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.

The biggest mover in the system is middle infielder Luis Urias, who jumped from No. 29 in the preseason rankings to No. 10. He's hitting .334/.406/.458 between Lake Elsinore and El Paso this season, with most of his time coming at Class A Advanced Elsinore.

Of course, that "biggest mover" moniker doesn't include Cal Quantrill and Adrian Morejon, ranked Nos. 4 and 5, respectively. Both were midseason additions -- Quantrill as the club's top pick in the Draft and Morejon as the top international signing.

They are representative of San Diego's recent push to load up on young arms. Espinoza (Drew Pomeranz trade), Chris Paddack (Fernando Rodney trade) and Eric Lauer (Draft) join them among the club's top eight prospects. All five have been acquired in the past month and a half.

"We're starting to develop a nice group of pitching prospects," Preller said. "The system's obviously gotten a lot better here in the last month or two. As a group, you need numbers, you need depth, you need quality. That's what we're trying to build."

Of course, it makes sense that the Padres would see a sudden influx of new talent among their top prospects. They did, after all, possess six of the top 85 picks in the Draft, the most in the Majors. They have also blown past their bonus pool allotment, spending nearly $58 million since the international signing period opened earlier this month.

It's been a coordinated effort by the Padres to load the system with players who could arrive at the Major League level around the same time. The international spree means San Diego will face the strictest penalty, severely limiting its signings over the next two years.

But in Preller's eyes, 2016 was simply the time to strike.

"There's huge value in depth, there's huge value in numbers," Preller said. "I think we saw a lot of value in getting these guys together in the next few years."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.