Could relief prospects be next joining Padres?

Torres makes debut, others made big jumps in 2016

Could relief prospects be next joining Padres?

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

In addition to the "core four" making their first Major League starts Thursday night at Petco Park, there was a hint of what the next wave of arriving prospects might be.

With fastballs topping 95 mph, left-handed reliever Jose Torres worked a scoreless ninth inning against the Giants -- striking out the last two hitters he faced after giving up a lead-off double.

Torres was one of four young relievers who played roles in El Paso's run to the Pacific Coast League title run after joining the Chihuahuas late in the season.

Torres was joined by fellow left-hander Kyle McGrath and right-handers Phil Maton and Eric Yardley.

McGrath and Torres became the most active relievers in El Paso's bullpen during their nine playoff games. Maton jumped into the closer's role and picked up three saves, twice working out of bases-loaded jams.

Torres, Maton and McGrath all have powerful fastballs. Yardley is a submariner.

Maton, 23, was the 20th-round selection of the Padres in the 2015 Draft. The 6-foot-3 right-hander started the '16 season with Class A Fort Wayne. McGrath, 24, was the 36th-round pick in the '14 Draft. He started the season with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore as a teammate to Torres. Yardley, 26, started the season with Double-A San Antonio.

Torres, Maton and McGrath all pitched at three levels in the Padres' system in 2016. Yardley, 26, appeared at two. Maton made the biggest strides. He skipped Double-A. In 38 regular-season games at three levels, Maton was 5-3 with a 1.74 ERA with 11 saves in 13 chances. He had 78 strikeouts against 11 walks in 51 1/3 innings. He allowed only 32 hits. He had 12 strikeouts in six innings at El Paso at the end of the regular season then pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in four playoff appearances with those five saves.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound McGrath was 2-2 with a save and a 0.93 ERA at three levels in 2016. He had 78 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings over 45 appearances. He allowed 10 walks and 41 hits. After making only one regular-season appearance with the Chihuahuas, he appeared in six of El Paso's nine playoff games allowing one run on six hits with six walks and 10 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Torres came to the Padres last December with left-hander Drew Pomeranz and outfielder Jabari Blash in the trade that sent first baseman Yonder Alonso and right-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski to Oakland. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder had a 2.24 ERA in 64 1/3 innings with 63 strikeouts. His best work was at San Antonio, where he had a 1.24 ERA over 25 appearances.

Yardley, a 6-foot, 165-pounder, signed with the Padres as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He had a 2.93 ERA in 49 appearances covering 70 2/3 innings at the two highest minor league levels this season.

NOTES FROM THE SCOREBOOK

• Outfielder Alex Dickerson's 10th homer of the season Thursday night was the Padres' fourth pinch-hit homer of the season.

• Left-hander Brad Hand had his 103rd strikeout in his Major League-leading 77th appearance Thursday night. The 103 strikeouts is the fifth-highest total for a Padres reliever in a single season.

• Left-handed starter Christian Friedrich allowed two runs on three hits and three walks Thursday with six strikeouts over seven innings. The seven innings equaled his longest outing to the season.

• First baseman Wil Myers had a 10-game hitting streak end Thursday. It was the third-longest of his career.