Here’s the quick Carter Capps backstory, which I promise will take fewer than 11 minutes and 22 seconds to read: Capps has a really weird, hopping delivery; he had one of the most dominant reliever seasons you’ll see for the Marlins back in 2015; he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016; he was acquired by the Padres in the Andrew Cashner trade at last season’s deadline; his really weird, hopping delivery was (again) ruled legal in the offseason.

Capps found himself in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Sunday night, with Triple-A El Paso, trying to work his way back to the majors after TJ. Capps’ rehab has been a bit of an up-and-down process so far, featuring a few starts and stops and 10 walks in 14 innings. On the plus side, he’s been pitching regularly in June, and he had five straight scoreless appearances headed into last night’s action.

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It’s June and the Padres are 31–45; that means it’s the time of the year when mid-season prospect list start popping up. Last week Padres ProspectusEast Village Times, and Phillip unveiled lengthy and well-done Padres prospect lists, and somewhere in his east coast palatial estate David Marver is (apparently) working on a top 110 or something. I figured, what the heck, here’s mine.

(all stats through some point this weekend)

11. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Single-A Fort Wayne

You might glance at Fernando Tatis Jr.’s numbers and wonder what all the fuss is about. Tatis is hitting “just” .260/.338/.430 in 296 plate appearances. He’s striking out 26.3 percent of the time and walking 9.5 percent of the time. He has 12 steals in 20 tries. There are two things here:

1. Once you adjust for age, those numbers are quite good. In the Midwest league there are only 11 18-year-old position players. Of them, only offensive wunderkind Vladimir Gurerro Jr. has a higher wRC+ than Tatis (146 to 116). Keibert Ruiz is tied with Tatis, but five of the others—including teammates Jack Suwinski, Hudson Potts, and Reinaldo Ilarraza—have figures of 80 or lower. Flip over to the South Atlantic League, the Midwest League’s east coast cousin, and it’s more of the same. There are only two 18-year-old position players there, and neither has a wRC+ better than 110.

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Let’s face it, the bunt gets a bad rap these days, especially the sacrifice bunt. We’re in an era where some form of analytics plays a roll in every front office, and air-ball revolutionaries roam the dugouts; nobody on the periphery of either movement is espousing the virtues of the bunt. Shoot, there are multiple varieties of shirts available for anyone who wants to flaunt their anti-bunt lifestyle.

I’ll concede that the pure sacrifice bunt is often a bad play, the kind where you’re telegraphing the bunt early, where the defense is anticipating it, and where there’s little chance of anything good happening beyond moving a runner up a base in exchange for an out. When getting one run is super important, and maybe the batter isn’t so hot, this can be a good play. Often, though, both the run and win expectancy will drop if you pull off a “successful” sacrifice bunt in this scenario.

Take a look at Franchy Cordero‘s bunt from last night, though. To set the scene: the Padres are up one in the seventh, with Cory Spangenberg on first and one out. Forgetting the tank here, a run is important but not necessarily critical in the context of trying to win the game.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Michael Kelly, RHP, Double-A San Antonio

While we wait for Cal Quantrill, Adrian Morejon, and the rest of the Famers that will be the foundation of the Padres’ dynasty (2021-2025), we must first drudge through “Jhoulys Chacin Pitching on the Road” piles of shit and ride Clayton Richard’s stapled shoulder to 5-2 losses.

It’ll be a long time before the Padres rotation is truly great, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to have to wait that long before it’s good. We’ve already seen what Dinelson Lamet’s capable of in his short time with the big club, and Luis Perdomo, while still mostly just stuff and upside, can every now and then give you a 6 IP, 6h, 2er, 1bb, 8k night.

While two OK arms don’t make a good rotation, three might! I wrote about Michael Kelly last year for one of our first What’s Brewing on the Farm segments. Kelly pitched at three different levels last year, including Triple-A El Paso, where he was mostly up and down. He struggled at Lake Elsinore (29.1 IP, 25K, 12BB, 5.83 ERA), looked great in San Antonio (49.2 IP, 49K, 17BB, 2.90 ERA), before getting knocked around again Triple-A (49.2 IP, 41K, 23BB, 4.89 ERA).

Kelly, who’s still only 24 and was a supplemental 1st-round pick back in 2011, has been terrific at Double-A, where he’s pitched the entire season. Even with the caveat that he’s repeating the level and San Antonio is a pitcher-friendly environment, 91 strikeouts in 84.2 innings (15 starts) is impressive.

As I wrote last year, Madfriars had Kelly’s fastball in the mid-90s; with his strikeout numbers, it’s safe to assume not only has he maintained that velocity this year, but his secondary pitches have also started coming along. Kelly will probably be promoted to Triple-A at some point, and considering how mostly trash the rotation is right now, a call up to the big leagues shouldn’t be far off. (Oscar)

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By now, you’ve seen the video. You’ve read all of the accounts. You’ve dissected the viral diagrams:

I’m not sure there’s a whole lot more to say on the issue of Anthony Rizzo‘s “slide” into Austin Hedges from Monday night, but the internet isn’t going to stop me from trying. So here are some disjointed thoughts.

That was a dirty slide. It’s obviously hard to determine whether Rizzo attempted to injure Hedges, but he clearly went out of his way to collide with him to presumably jar the ball loose. There’s a good chance that kind of collision, initiated by a 6-foot-3, 240-pound man, will injure the person on the receiving end, the one who’s standing still and not expecting the impact. So when Rizzo decided to leave the base path and not make a play toward home plate (i.e., to break the rules), he opted to do something with a good chance of injuring Hedges. Parse things all you want, Rizzo’s actions led directly to Hedges leaving the game. To make matters worse, both Rizzo and his manager, Joe Maddon, acted like jackasses after the game.

(By the way, I’m not saying Rizzo is a dirty player. No idea. He probably isn’t one, and it was a split-second decision in effort to help his team win a ball game. It was still a dirty play in the context of the rules and general sportsmanship.)

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One of the hardest things about writing about a baseball team every day is trying to avoid looking like a fool. The easiest way to make yourself look like a fool is to get too excited—or too down—on a player with limited playing time. It’s easy to do, though. You see a hyped (or maybe under-hyped) prospect roll on to the big-league team and dominate in a couple of appearances, and you’re looking for something to write about. Before you know it you’re comparing him to Lance McCullers or something.

After Dinelson Lamet‘s first two starts, where he combined for 16 strikeouts and three walks in 10 innings, maybe I got a little too excited. The only thing worse than making yourself look like a fool once, however, is making yourself look like a fool twice. The easiest way to do this is to get too excited—or too down—on a player with limited playing time and then, after a few bad (or good) outings, to reverse course entirely. All of the sudden, you’re backpedaling away from this player as fast as you can. It’s a bad look, especially if the player turns out to be good, as you had originally envisioned, or even just okay, as you had maybe never considered.

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My thoughts about some recent goings-on I’ve seen concerning our Padres:

  • When Manuel Margot returns, Matt Szczur makes the most sense to be out righted. Franchy Cordero needs to work on some things, sure. His K rate is high, but is there really going to be a big difference in the stuff he sees in AAA vs MLB? He can man left field, and can be spelled by Jose Pirela versus tough lefties. I don’t think Cordero suffers development if he stays with the big club, and he is looking like the Padres 2nd best outfielder. Pirela is a solid bench bat and versatile utility glove that gives Manger Andy Green plenty of flexibility. Both players have been contributing with their bats in a very small sample size – (Franchy a 132 wRC+ in 74 PAs, Jose a 163 in 50). Matt Szczur has walked at a pretty good clip (17.4%) but not much else sporting an 85 wRC+ in 69 nice PAs.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Last Tuesday night Padres Public converged on Eastlake, Ohio for a Midwest League game between the Fort Wayne TinCaps and the Lake County Captains. Nathan traveled from about a half hour away in Cleveland, and myself from somewhere in the middle of New York, a cool six-hour trip. Nathan made an additional appearance on Thursday night.

This is what we saw.

Ronald Bolanos, RHP

Bolanos, a 19 year old Cuban who signed last August for $2.25 million during A.J. Preller’s summer abroad, started his minor league career in extended spring training, but he was sent out to Fort Wayne in mid-May, and he’s now made 5 starts for the team. Thursday night was the fifth, and it was his longest start of the year, at 6 2/3 innings pitched. In his previous start, he went 5 innings, giving up 2 runs and striking out 9 batters against a very good Lansing team, his best start of the year. Thursday’s was on course to be better, but it had to settle for also quite good.
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what's brewing on the padres farm system

MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (NC)
First round, third overall

Gore is like the high school version of two recent Padres draft picks, Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi. He’s got a different kind of scouting report than your usual coveted prep pitcher. There’s no blow-you-away velocity here—not yet, anyway. But Gore also has attributes rarely associated with a young pitcher. He possesses a deep repertoire of plus (or potential plus) offerings, he’s polished (at least for the HS breed), and he’s a super athlete, important for things like repeating mechanics and, ahem, staying healthy.

There are, of course, plusses and minuses in taking a high school pitcher this high. On the down side, there’s always plenty of risk attached to any pitcher, particularly a high school one. Gore, while dominant at the high school level, hasn’t proven that he can handle a professional workload or a professional hitter. And there’s always the issue of health, and being a good three or four years away, health is always an ominous shadow.

On the plus side, the Padres got a pitcher who hasn’t gone to college, where he’d potentially be abused to win a conference title or a game in Omaha. He’ll get professional instruction right away, where the Padres will be able to carefully handle his development and promotion schedule. Many major-league stars were drafted as high schoolers for a variety of reasons, and that’s part of the appeal here.

In a perfect world, Gore’s the right combination of upside and safety. That’s something of a rare mix, though the profile—any profile—still carries plenty of its own risk. Expect the Padres to take it easy with Gore early, but his advanced style could allow him to move through the lower levels somewhat quickly once he gets rolling. (Sac Bunt Dustin)

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The Padres started this week’s amateur draft with six straight high schoolers, highlighted by 6-foot-3 left hander MacKenzie Gore. Then, just when you thought you had them figured out, they reeled off nine straight college players, taking 25 of them in total from round six onward. Just for good measure, they added in some exciting high schoolers in between, like LSU commit Daniel Cabrera.

Are they going to be able to sign all of their picks inside the first 10 rounds? Is there going to be money left for someone like Cabrera or another late-round high schooler? These are questions you might have. We don’t have the answers, but let’s take a crack at it.

Player Status Commitment Pick $ BA Rank Slot Bonus Proj. Bonus
MacKenzie Gore HS East Carolina 3 4 $6,668,100 $6,200,000
Luis Campusano-Bracero HS South Carolina 39 42 $1,760,700 $1,600,000
Blake Hunt HS Pepperdine 69 123 $858,600 $600,000
Mason House HS Oklahoma State 78 84 $732,200 $900,000
Sam Keating HS Clemson 108 116 $497,000 $800,000
Jonny Homza HS Hawaii 138 Unranked $371,200 $200,000
Aaron Leasher College Jr. N/A 168 Unranked $278,500 $100,000
Nick Margevicius College Jr. N/A 198 234 $217,000 $165,000
Olivier Basabe College Jr. N/A 228 Unranked $172,000 $80,000
Alex Cunningham College Sen. N/A 258 Unranked $147,000 $25,000
Dominic Taccolini College Sen. N/A 288 Unranked $136,600 $25,000

The last two columns are the slot value for that pick and my projected signing bonus, based on a super-secret formula (it’s just a guess, really).

Gore has Scott Boras in his corner, but the commitment to East Carolina probably never scared anyone. A lot of early picks sign for something under slot, just because the slots are so high. A player might not mind going under slot when he’s still getting a check for $5 or $6 million. Not saying Gore shouldn’t get full slot for being a kick-ass pitcher and bypassing three years of college, but my guess is that he settles for something closer to $6 million.

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