MacKenzie Gore in action with the Lake Elsinore Storm in 2018. Photo: Jerry Espinoza

At the end of August of 2020 the San Diego Padres did something that they haven’t done in a very long time; they were buyers at the trade deadline.  In a 48-hour period the team acquired two new catchers in Austin Nola and Jason Castro, a high-end reliever in Trevor Rosenthal, a bench bat and DH in Mitch Moreland and a true top of the rotation ace in Mike Clevinger all for either prospects or primarily some of the younger players in their system.

In the off-season, Padres General Manager A.J. Preller was even more agressive building a starting staff of Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove – all of whom were traded for minor league players within San Diego’s system in addition to the pre-season deals for Tommy Pham Jake Cronenworth and Trent Grisham; also primarlily involving propsects or players in their first few years with the team.

San Diego, which has had a farm system consensully ranked in the top three in all of baseball for the last three years going into 2020, was able to do what the organization had promised since the tear-down at the end of 2016; when it was the team’s window of opportunity to compete, the Padres would be buyers.

Well the window of opportunity is now.

Last year’s minor league season was wiped out by COVID-19 and San Diego fans will now see a very different system than one in previous years.  The big league club is good, very good and the bar for being able to make the team and contribute is much higher than every before.

Luis Patino was one of the many top prospects that left in the Padres off-season trades. Photo Credit: John Moore/Amarillo Sod Poodles.

The remarkable aspect about all of the trades is that San Diego only gave up one prospect, RHP Luis Patino that was ranked in the top 100 prospects by Baseball America and still was able to acquire the talent that it did at the end of last year was amazing, but the organization lost a significant amount of talent that will affect any organizations depth. 

We have full breakdowns of all four affiliated teams. This year will be different without a short-season squad in Tri-City – who is now a High-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels – and only one Complex League team in the AZL.

A few highlights of the rosters:

Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas: The Chihuhuas will probably be the most interesting with LHP MacKenzie Gore, C Luis Capusano and INF/OF Tucupita Marcano all having a chance to be in San Diego sometime this year.

Tucupita Marcano’s smooth left-handed swing. Photo: Jerry Espinoza.

Double-A San Antonio Missions:  INF The Padres return to the Alamo City after a year in the Texas Panhandle with Amarillo.  This is a vastly better envioronment for pitchers. C.J. Abrams, after only playing two games above the AZL, might be the best prospect in San Diego’s system.  Look for RHP Reggie Lawson to join the squad later in the summer as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.


High-A Fort Wayne TinCaps:  The TinCaps and Storm will flip affiliation levels and Fort Wayne will have a few interesting players, the two that stand out the most is RHP Anderson Espinoza, who after being one of the top prospects in the game, hasn’t pitched in a professional game since 2016.  Also, giant outfielder Tirso Ornelas, a left-handed hitting native of Tijuana will give San Diego fans some power to dream on.


Low-A Lake Elsinore Storm:  If you are in San Diego, it will be well worth the drive up the I-15 to see a pair of the Padres young outfielders in Robert Hassell III and Joshua Mears.  Keep an eye on this squad in mid-season as talented young pitchers could make their full season debuts.



We will be in Fort Wayne for the opening weekend, in in one of the two Texas affiliates later this month and for opening night at the Diamond in Lake Elsinore.  Thanks to our subscribers we have the funds for more on-site visits than ever before.  All of us appreciate each and every one of you for continuing to support us without any season to cover last year and we plan to make this year our best.

Posted by John Conniff

John grew up in Poway and has written for MadFriars since 2004. He has written articles for Baseball America, FoxSports San Diego, the El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Amarillo Globe-News, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and Pacific Daily News in addition to appearing on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He can also break down the best places to eat for all five of the affiliates. There is no best place to eat in Peoria, Arizona.

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