Padres begin youth movement as camp opens

Skipper Green eager to develop and teach players

Padres begin youth movement as camp opens

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Padres squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.

SAN DIEGO -- With one of the youngest rosters in baseball set to report to Peoria, Ariz., this week, the Padres are looking at the next month and a half as a chance to ingrain a winning philosophy throughout the organization.

Gone are veterans Derek Norris, Tyson Ross and Jon Jay. In their place, youngsters like Austin Hedges, Luis Perdomo, Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe will be asked to step up.

"There's a possibility for more classroom-type settings with young guys like that," said Padres manager Andy Green, who caught his flight to Arizona on Saturday afternoon. "That probably isn't the norm at the Major League-level, but we've got a ton of youth, and we want to identify the way we want to play the game.

"This young group of guys, they want to get on the field and they want to work. They want to learn. I'm excited for what each of them brings in their own regard. It's an exciting group."

The external expectations for the Padres aren't pretty, with many projecting a last-place finish in a loaded National League West. But the Padres have spent the past year turning the question marks on their roster into a clear vision for the future.

"The greatest thing about every single Spring Training is that literally anything is possible," Green said. "There's an expectation that the external world has of your club, but that really doesn't matter at all."

The Padres invested heavily in the Draft and the international market, while swinging trades for a handful of top prospects as well. The 2017 season could prove critical in the development of those youngsters -- and that will begin in spring camp.

Said Green: "How we develop them and how we challenge them and push them will be paramount to our success in the future."

Pitchers and catchers report: Tuesday

Position players report: Friday

First Cactus League game: Home vs. Mariners on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 12:10 p.m. PT

Padres may turn to youth in 2017

New faces: Right-handers Jhoulys Chacin and Trevor Cahill are early favorites to win spots in a wide-open rotation race. In the bullpen, Carter Capps -- who was acquired from Miami last season in the Andrew Cashner trade -- will soon be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. Offensively, the Padres remained relatively stagnant, but Hedges, Margot and Renfroe are all expected to see increased roles in 2017.

Aybar's nice play

Interesting non-roster invitees: After signing a Minor League deal last week, Erick Aybar will be given a chance to compete for the starting shortstop job. Outfielder Collin Cowgill and reliever Craig Stammen, fellow newcomers, could also compete for roster spots. Meanwhile, a pair of the club's top 30 prospects -- Luis Urias (No. 11) and Dinelson Lamet (No. 18) -- are worth watching as well. They're long shots to make the roster, but if their 2016 seasons are any indication, it won't be long until Urias and Lamet are making an impact in San Diego.

Top Prospects: Margot, SD

 Prospects to watch: Margot (No. 2) and Renfroe (No. 3) won't be prospects for much longer. The Padres' outfield of the future should begin taking shape in '17, with the pair of highly touted youngsters receiving significant playing time. Both are expected to make the roster, and they'll fight for starting spots with Travis Jankowski and Alex Dickerson. Elsewhere on the diamond, a trio of Rule 5 selections will battle for roster spots. Reliever Miguel Diaz, catcher Luis Torrens and shortstop Allen Cordoba were the top three overall picks in December's Rule 5 Draft. And it's not inconceivable that the Padres would open the year with all three on the Major League squad.

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.