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.
Reinaldo Ilarraza, 2B, Single-A Fort Wayne
Forget the numbers—he’s struck out at a 34 percent clip in 24 professional games—the best indicator about what the Padres think about Ilarraza might be the assignment. He’s 10 days younger than the more hyped Fernando Tatis Jr., just 18 and already in Single-A ball. He’s nearly 3.5 years younger than the average player at this level.
After suffering though some injuries last year, it would have been reasonable for Illarraza to stay back in the Arizona Rookie League to start 2017, then progress to Low-A Tri-City by the summer. Instead, the Padres skipped that option and ambitiously sent him to full-season Fort Wayne, where he’s flanked by similarly young teammates like the Tatis, Eguy Rosario, and Hudson Potts. It’s clear that the Padres aren’t scared to challenge certain prospects, and with all four of these guys playing on the infield, there’s a chance they could play together a bunch in the minors.
Ilarraza, signed out of Venezuela in July 2015 for $300,000, gets good reports for his baseball instincts but isn’t without plus tools. He plays stronger than his 5-foot-10, 150-pound frame, and word is he has enough arm strength to play short in the long run. Right now, with Tatis at short, he’s playing mostly second base, but there’s a decent chance he’ll slide over to short more regularly once an opportunity opens. Not even listed in Baseball America’s Padres top 30, Ilarraza is an under-the-radar prospect to watch. (Sac Bunt Dustin)
This space will mostly be used to discuss the previous day’s game, in some form or fashion, yes. Sometimes, however, we’ll diverge and talk about something else. (That silly Joel Sherman NY Post article was a strong contender, for example.) Today it’s Fernando Tatis Jr., a favorite prospect of this particular writer.
As I received the twitter notification from Phillip (@advancedstats23), the internet’s foremost collector of Tatis Jr. footage, I knew what I was in for.
The camera operator didn’t, apparently.