September 21, 2016

SAN DIEGO (AP) Deep in a rebuilding mode, the San Diego Padres on Wednesday welcomed the first wave of top prospects that they hope will help form their core in the near future.

The Padres called up catcher Austin Hedges, infielder Carlos Asuaje and outfielders Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe from Triple-A El Paso.

After a day to get acclimated, those four will be in the starting lineup on Thursday night when the Padres open a four-game home series against the San Francisco Giants, who are fighting for a postseason berth.

''They have every opportunity to become a part of our core,'' manager Andy Green said before the Padres played the Arizona Diamondbacks in the finale of a three-game series. ''I think that's the message that should be out there right now. We're hopeful that they're our core group of guys. When you think about talent arriving at this level, they're our first wave, and how they perform on this field will determine how much of the core they are going forward, and there will be another wave of talent coming behind them. I think most of our talent after you get past this wave, a lot of it is down at the lower levels. They're going to have time and opportunity to perform.''

The four prospects helped El Paso win the Pacific Coast League championship. The Chihuahuas lost to International League Scranton-Wilkes-Barre in the Triple-A showdown on Tuesday night in Memphis.

The Padres, who will miss the playoffs for the 10th straight season, have retrenched with youth after failing to win with several veterans obtained in a wild spree of trades and signings after the 2014 season. They loaded up then with Matt Kemp, Justin and Melvin Upton, James Shields, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Craig Kimbrel.

Only Myers, a first-time All-Star, and Norris remain. Justin Upton left as a free agent after last season and Kimbrel was traded to Boston. Kemp, Melvin Upton and Shields were traded this season in a salary dump.

Asuaje and Margot were among the four prospects the Padres got from the Red Sox for Kimbrel in November.

Renfroe was the team's first-round draft pick in 2013. Hedges was a second-round pick in 2011.

The Padres also loaded up on international signings during the summer.

Hedges made his major league debut in 2015, playing in 56 games, including 41 behind the plate.

It's the first career callups for Margot, Renfroe and Asuaje.

''It's great for them. This is where they've tried to be their entire life and they're finally here,'' Green said. ''Their phones are blowing up right now. There's 1,000 distractions for them to not pay attention to. They need to go about playing baseball. Every bit of experience at this level is useful. It will also kind of give us a little bit of a road map for the offseason.''

The Padres entered Wednesday night's game in fourth place in the NL West at 64-87, 21 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.

San Diego will finish with its sixth straight losing season. It has had only two winning seasons since making consecutive postseason appearances in 2005 and 2006.

The Padres also called up left-handers Buddy Baumann and Jose Torres from El Paso.

Last week, Major League Baseball suspended Padres general manager A.J. Preller for 30 days without pay, an unprecedented punishment for failing to disclose medical information when pitcher Drew Pomeranz was traded to the Boston Red Sox in July.

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Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson

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