Hedges, Renfroe could be first wave of talent

Hedges, Renfroe could be first wave of talent

SAN DIEGO -- It's a particularly apt metaphor, given the city.

"Waves of talent" and "waves of prospects" are phrases used by people inside and outside of the Padres organization to describe the farm system's new-found depth. The plan, as the metaphor implies, is for one group of home-grown youngsters to follow another to the Majors in short succession -- with the next group close behind.

The first "wave" hits Monday. Catcher Austin Hedges, right fielder Hunter Renfroe and center fielder Manuel Margot were each named to their first Opening Day roster on Saturday. All three are expected to start the opener at Dodger Stadium and all three will see regular playing time moving forward.

"We've talked about a layering effect," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. "That is definitely the first of the young guys that are going to come up and contribute. The exciting part is that there's a couple groups coming after that as well. If we do this the right way, over the next six, seven, eight years, each year there's going to be other groups of guys that have a chance to contribute."

Hedges' second homer of the game

It's not always so simple. The Opening Day roster is a testament to that. Among the 25 players to break camp with the club, only Hedges, Renfroe and Travis Jankowski developed exclusively within the Padres' organization.

There's reason to believe the current group of prospects is different. Most notably, the Padres have spent an unprecedented $80 million plus on the amateur international market during the current signing period. They snagged six of the top 84 selections the most recent Draft and have traded six veterans for prospects since June.

"What we're doing right now with our farm system is something really cool," Hedges said. "I think they're going to have a lot of success. And I think this first wave right now is something the fans can get used to, watching young guys come up that were in the organization."

Margot's RBI single in the 2nd

At some point this season, the next group could arrive, possibly in the form of Luis Urias, the club's No. 7 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, Carlos Asuaje (No. 11), Dinelson Lamet (No. 12) and Phil Maton (No. 18), and Michael Gettys (No. 13) could follow next year.

The Padres, however, feel as though the biggest waves are also the farthest away. Right-handers Anderson Espinoza (No. 2) and Cal Quantrill (No. 4) likely won't make an impact until 2019. Adrian Morejon (No. 5), Fernando Tatis Jr. (No. 8) and Gabriel Arias -- three players who stood out during camp -- were all born in 1999 or later.

This spring, those youngsters came together on the Padres' back fields for a series of ultra-competitive intrasquad games.

Preller, given his scouting background, certainly enjoyed those.

"A lot of fun," Preller said, breaking into a full grin. "Our scouts obviously have a vision in terms of what they think guys are going to be. And then you see the different legs -- international, pro and amateur -- come together. They're guys we acquired all different ways. ...It's just Spring Training on the backfield. But it's a good first step for them."

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.