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 Prospectus, East 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.
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.
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)
A look at a Padres prospect or two from each level of the system that had a noteworthy week. The Fort Wayne TinCaps were the only affiliate that posted a winning week (4-3), while the rest combined for a 8-13 record. Yikes. That’s not quite as bad as the Padres current winning percentage, but it’s close. Despite the losing, there were plenty of bright spots and examples of player progression, which is what Padres fans should really be looking for anyways.
Walker Lockett – SP, El Paso Chihuahuas
2 starts, 12 IP, 10 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
Yes, Dinelson Lamet continues to miss more bats for the Chihuahuas (including 9 K’s in his last six inning start), but Lockett has been equally effective and even more efficient, throwing fewer pitches (90 in a 7 inning start, and then 75 in a 5 inning start) and going deeper in his appearances. It’d be surprising to see either Lamet or Lockett in San Diego before the All-Star break, and while Lamet probably has the inside track, more weeks like this from Lockett will make that a tougher decision.
In case you missed it yesterday (and unless you were in Lansing, Michigan, you did – thanks MiLB.tv), the Fort Wayne TinCaps had one of their best overall performances of the year, beating the Lansing Lugnuts 11-4.
Logan Allen spun a gem, shutting out the Lugnuts for six innings, allowing a walk and three hits while striking out six. He retired the side in order three separate times and allowed mostly soft contact, including six groundball outs. Allen has only allowed more than two runs in one outing this year, and continues to be the ace of the young staff.
A look at a Padres prospect or two from each level of the system that had a noteworthy week. Yes, Michael Gettys striking out 10 times in six games and The San Antonio Missions being just a game out of first place is interesting, but these are a few of the guys that have really impressed the past calendar week. Oh, and Franchy Cordero raised his batting average to .250, so I don’t have to just point out his slugging percentage is great and that he should be loved by all.
Brad Zunica – 1B/DH, Fort Wayne TinCaps (Single-A)
2 for 12 (.167), 2 HR, 4 BB, 7 K, 3 RBI, 3 R
If you are a Ryan Schimpf fan, let me introduce you to Brad Zunica. Zunica has a dozen hits on the year – half were home runs and four were doubles, leaving just two that were singles. The dude’s ISO is through the roof. Also, just like Schimpf, the dude can work walks and strikes out a bunch. Despite having just two hits this week, he sported a .375 OBP with four walks. On the year, he has a 24.1% walk rate, and a 41.8% strikeout rate. At 21-years-old, he has the power you want, and hopefully he has time to trim down that K rate.
Cal Quantrill, RHP, High-A Lake Elsinore
Don’t tell Quantrill that the Cal League is supposed to be friendly toward hitters. He’ll stare you down, find the nearest baseball, and strike you out with 95 mph heat.
Quantrill’s latest masterpiece came against Rancho Cucamonga, on Tuesday night, against a lineup that included major-league rehabbers Logan Forsythe and Joc Pederson along with some legit prospects. Quantrill’s line: six innings, seven hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, and a career-high 12 strikeouts.
As others have noted, the most important thing the Padres can do with Quantrill is try to keep his arm healthy. Coming off Tommy John surgery in college, there’s no rush to push Quantrill up a level or work him for innings. We don’t know all that much about arm health, so just take it slow, monitor his condition after each start, and watch his innings and pitches. So long as the arm stays together, natural talent should carry Quantrill in whichever direction he points it.
Yuniet Flores, OF, High-A Lake Elsinore
Are you on board with A.J. Preller loading up on young international talent, but not quite patient enough to see if any of these teenagers actually pans out? If so, you’re in luck, because there’s one Cuban that the Padres inked to a deal last August that’s already playing at High-A Lake Elsinore: Yuniet Flores.
Of course, there’s a catch—Flores isn’t a teenage phenom, he’s 31 years old. He debuted with the Storm on Sunday and promptly went 4-for-6, including a walkoff single. After playing in a few more High-A games, he is off to a .462/.563/.538 start in 16 plate appearances.
Is that enough to get excited about? I’m not sure. I’m a long drive away from Lake Elsinore (hello from Texas), so I haven’t had eyes on him yet. His stats from the Cuban National League are good but not great (.298/.371/.409 over an eight-year period). In terms of what he brings to the table, well… I honestly can’t even find even a shred of a scouting report on Flores.
A look at a Padres prospect or two from each level of the system that had a noteworthy week. Yes, Michael Gettys striking out 12 times in six games and Ruddy Giron hitting a walkoff dinger are certainly noteworthy, but these are a few guys who have really impressed the past week. Oh, and Franchy Cordero is slugging .492, so don’t look at any of his other numbers, he’s great and should be loved by all.
Dinelson Lamet – SP, El Paso Chihuahuas (Triple-A)
5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 13 K, 3 BB
Go figure, in the most hitter-friendly place in the Padres farm system, the star of the week goes to a pitcher. In his third start of the season, Dinelson Lamet set a Chihuahuas team record with 13 strikeouts. More impressive is the fact that the Tacoma Rainers (Seattle Mariners affiliate) entered the game with the fewest strikeouts in the Pacific Coast League. Lamet needed 96 pitches to set the record, and of his three hits allowed, only a homer by Gordon Beckham did any damage. With a 0.69 ERA in 13 innings this year, there’s a nice chance that we could see Lamet in San Diego before the end of the season.
When the Padres lost a bidding war for Yoan Moncada a couple of years ago, it was, perhaps, a blessing in disguise. As good as Moncada is—and he’s potentially very, very good—missing out on him kept the Padres inside their international amateur spending budget in 2014-2015, helping to set up San Diego’s all-out assault on the current international signing market. In a sense, they traded Moncada for Adrian Morejon, Jorge Ona, Luis Almanzar, Gabriel Arias, Jeisson Rosario, Osvaldo Hernandez . . . and on and on.
Now, two years after the Red Sox inked Moncada to a $31.5 million deal, there’s a new Cuban phenom in town named Luis Robert. Like Moncada, Robert is very much a Physical Specimen, with speed, power, athleticism, and all the other attributes you’d expect from this sort of supremely talented prospect. A 19-year-old outfielder who will officially be cleared to sign with a major-league team in May, Robert is expected to sign before the next international signing period opens on July 4, when all teams will be limited by a (really dumb) hard spending cap.
If the Padres were drawing all this up when they decided not to match the Red Sox offer on Moncada back in March 2015, this is about how’d it go. With big-market teams like the Cubs, Red Sox, and Yankees currently on the sidelines for past spending sprees of their own, the Padres—yes, the Padres—got to throw money around like George Steinbrenner after a five-game losing streak. Instead of competing with the Dodgers and Red Sox for top international youngsters, the Padres were competing with teams like the A’s and Braves during the current signing period. And instead of coming up short, they got their guys. Give them credit, too, because they spent, busting past their international spending pool last July 4 while continuing to add talent over the winter.