Padres prospect landscape with Gonzalez trade

The San Diego Padres prospect landscape has changed in one swift move with the trade of slugger Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox. How do the new additions fit in?

Casey Kelly, Boston's top prospect, immediately shoots to the top of the Padres prospect chart. He boasts three potential plus pitches, including a fastball and changeup that are already above-average. Once the curveball becomes more consistent, it will be a difference maker.

Some will point to a high ERA in Double-A as a cause for concern. It isn't. He was one of the youngest pitcher in the circuit and was transitioning to the mound full time after being a two-way player in years prior.

Kelly has a mid-90s fastball with a deadly changeup. Those two pitches alone make him special. He does need to hone his command but could be in the mix for a starter spot at 22 during the 2012 season.

The second best prospect, contrary to what other may believe, is Reymond Fuentes, a 19-year-old center fielder with plus tools across the board. He may take longer to develop, but the left-handed hitting prospect out of Puerto Rico has all the traits the Padres now covet – a game changer with his defensive skills, plus speed that he knows how to use, developing power, and high average potential.

Fuentes will need to improve upon his patience, but the sky is the limit for the former first-round pick. He could be a special player with All-Star ability.

Anthony Rizzo, now cancer free from his battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma, has significant power that translates well – even at Petco Park. He does not have the patience necessary to be a high on-base guy but should provide damage in the middle of an order. If he can gain increased plate discipline, his average will rise.

One thing Rizzo does well is use the entire field. He has a nice opposite field approach that says he can continue to up his average. Ironically, Rizzo grades as a plus defender – much like Gonzalez. He will be an asset in that department.

The player to be named later could have just as much impact, especially if it turns out to be Anthony Ranaudo. A supplemental first rounder this past year, He was considered the top arm in the draft prior to suffering an arm injury.

Ranaudo signed late after not allowing an earned run in the Cape Cod League, mixing in three pitches – all with plus makings. At 6-foot-7, the right-hander uses a downward plane to change the hitters' eye level. He has sharp location with his 92-95 mph heater and a sharp breaking curveball. He has had mechanical issues in the past and that will be something to watch moving forward.

Kolbrin Vitek is another name being bandied about. The Padres, hopefully, will shy away from this one. He was, however, linked pretty heavily to the Friars when they were selecting ninth overall this past season.

What he lacks is a true position. Few believe he can play the infield and see him ticketed for a trip to the outfield. The question is whether he will have enough pop to man a corner and instincts to be in center. He is a hitter that will have some gap power to along with enough speed and aggression on the base paths – the kind of guy the Padres talk about developing. That could sway the vote – if there is one between Ranaudo and Vitek – in his favor.

If it is a lessor known prospect, than the above scenario is mute.

Either way, the Padres will walk away with three of the top five prospects in the Boston system. That does say something positive in a day and age when prospects are so highly coveted for the cost certainty they provide – even to a powerhouse like Boston.

There is no win in this one, regardless of the eventual outcome since it is a future date. Gonzalez was the face of the franchise, today. The threat he posed in the middle of the lineup was real. They have no one that they can plug in to take his place. It weakens the rest of the lineup and creates even more holes than existed before. It will be interesting to see if Rizzo is given a chance to win the first base job.

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