Twitter Mailbag: Esteury’s Wave

If you don’t follow me on the twitter, I’m cutting back on writing for now. The mailbag has survived, however, and the mailbag is here.

Put me in the “sure, why not?” bucket here. When the Braves moved Freddie Freeman from first to third earlier this season, I thought it was an interesting experiment. Maybe the process behind it wasn’t great—the Braves moved their franchise cornerstone to clear room for a then scorching-hot Matt Adams—but I like the general idea of challenging guys to swim upstream on the defensive spectrum, particularly if there’s some athleticism/defensive skills present.

When Wil Myers moved from the outfield to first base initially, back toward the end of 2015, it looked like it might work out okay. The numbers said he played really good defense there last year, and he also added a bunch of runs on the bases. This season, however, he’s backpedaled in both of those areas, especially defensively, where the numbers and the eye test agree on the regression. Maybe his defensive skill-set just doesn’t work that well at first in the end, and he’ll be better off returning to an outfield corner, or even to third. He’d have more overall appeal if he could make things work defensively elsewhere on the diamond, though you could say that about any first sacker. Thing is, Myers hasn’t yet shown enough bat to cut it at first, at least not when other facets of his game aren’t firing.

The hardest part about keeping an out-of-nowhere (yet lengthy) hot streak alive might be adjusting to pitchers treating you like a real threat. For Jose Pirela, that could mean getting used to more pitches around the fringes of the strike zone, or a heavier diet of breaking balls and offspeed stuff, or, shoot, even facing better relievers out of the ‘pen on a regular basis. There’s nothing that really jumps off the page for Pirela, as far as specific adjustments, but narrowing his strike zone and cutting his whiff rate could help counteract any ball-in-play luck he’s received so far.

Either way, I’m not sure if he can keep this up, but he’s hit the ball harder than any regular Padre this season, and maybe there’s room for some added loft and more over-the-fence power. Outside of the bat, if he can prove he can play passable defense somewhere outside of left field, he’d probably garner some more league-wide appeal. He’s a good find, though. That the Padres stuck with Pirela after he hit .248/.295/.387 in limited time last season in the hitter-friendly PCL (and worse in the majors) is probably more impressive than signing him as a free agent in the first place, actually.

I’m going to tone FMK down into SEM.

Spoon—Cory Spangenberg. Spangenberg has 12 home runs on a 29.9 percent fly ball rate, which is something. It feels like an obvious regression set-up, but it’s also an intriguing amount of power for someone with good speed and solid defense on the dirt.

Engage—Carlos Asuaje. I thoroughly enjoy watching an Asuaje at-bat. I’m still not sure if he’s anything more than a utility guy on a good team, but we’ll have a better idea with another 500 or 600 plate appearances next season. It feels like there’s room to cut down the strikeout rate some, and he’s got more power than your typical punch-and-judy hitter. Find me a wedding planner.

Maim—Yangervis Solarte. Look, dig Solarte. Out of these three, he’s most likely to be an above average player in 2019. He’s also 29, and only under control through 2020, so he remains a logical trade candidate. With a good August and September, there’s a decent chance he gets dealt in the offseason.

I answered a similar question a couple of weeks back, so for consistency, I’ll stick with Luis Campusano. But my second choice would probably be Esteury Ruiz. He’s raking, for one, with a .370/.413/.675 slash line and 30 extra-base hits in 39 games in the AZL. While he got off to a bit of a slow start after being traded to the Padres, he’s collected up eight multi-hit games over his last 13. More than that, though, we’re starting to hear some whispers that this kid could be legit. I want to resist the Fernando Tatis Jr. comp because they’re different players, but just in overall process—in finding a guy just before he goes mainstream—this one has a similar feel.

On the pitching side, I’ll give nods to Henry Henry and Chris Paddack. Henry’s just 18, performing well in the Northwest League (35 Ks/12 BBs in 42 2/3 innings), with a 6-foot-4 frame and velo that can reportedly get up into the mid-90s. Paddack’s statistical record to date is spotless, and even after TJ, he’s still just 21. His return is highly anticipated.

  1. Fernando Tatis Jr.
  2. Luis Urias
  3. Luis Campusano
  4. Esteury Ruiz
  5. Josh Naylor
  6. Jorge Ona
  7. Franchy Cordero
  8. Luis Almanzar
  9. Eguy Rosario
  10. Austin Allen

I know I’m aggressive with Campusano and Ruiz there, but I’m betting they shoot up prospect lists this winter. Oh, yeah, 12 minutes.

I’m going to go with Pedro Avila‘s curveball. I finally got around to watching that 17-strikeout start from last week, and that was some mean stuff he was working with that night. Maybe it’s a stretch, because there are a lot of good pitchers with a lot of good pitches in this organization, but I’m interested to see how Avila progresses. The big breaking curve is as aesthetically pleasing as it gets. I like what I’ve seen out of Cal Quantrill‘s change, too, and I’ll hazard a guess that something thrown by MacKenzie Gore tops this list by the end of next season. And don’t forget about Anderson Espinoza‘s curve/change down the road.

Going to go with “just right.”  Expectations are tough with a guy like this, because we don’t really have a ton of info yet the performance has been tremendous. And, I mean, we do know that he’s 6-foot-8 with good stuff, but also that he’s a pitcher with just 46 2/3 professional innings. In other words, those expecting an ace delivered by 2019 are balanced out by those expecting a fringe reliever, and we all should have a better idea of the more realistic outcome by this time next year.

This answer could vary a lot based on the month, but just for kicks, I’ll take a stab at the April rotation.

  1. Dinelson Lamet
  2. Luis Perdomo
  3. Alex Cobb
  4. Matt Strahm
  5. Travis Wood

That’s probably a bad rotation, but it’s a fun one, with three guys with some long-term appeal (Lamet, Perdomo, and Strahm) and one (two, if you’re stretching it) solid trade chip in Cobb. There’s nothing special to the Cobb guess, either. He just feels like the kind of pitcher the Padres could take a gamble on. He’s had a nice year this season, with a 110 ERA+ in the AL East, but the 5.9 K/9 should keep the price down. Maybe the Padres will bet they can get his strikeout numbers back to his pre-Tommy John days. Out of the prospects at Double-A, I’ll say Joey Lucchesi gets to the majors first, and there’s a non-zero chance he’s there out of spring training.

Assuming average defense, this hypothetical player would be a sure-fire Hall of Famer. That’s a .333/.500/.333 line. No extra-base power hurts, sure, but extra-base power is superfluous for a player that gets on base every other trip to the plate. I remember listening to that podcast, though. More realistically, if Luis Urias is able to slash like .300/.400/.400, he’ll be super valuable, especially with what might be better than average defense at second.

Because that’s what he was born to do, and we’re better off for it.

Did Marver get fired yet?

I’m just trying to figure out this cost-benefit analysis of attending one or two Fort Wayne games in Lake County next week. On one hand, my rational side says driving 860 miles (relax, that’s round-trip) to watch a minor-league baseball game is not the smartest use of time or money. My irrational side, on the other hand, says that one final shot at catching Tatis before he moves further west is worth every penny in gas money and driving-related risks. My irrational side is winning, BUT CAN SOMEBODY GIVE ME SOME ASSURANCE THAT TATIS WILL PLAY.

I’m fine, really.

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  • Don B

    Always a pleasure reading your analysis Dustin! Nice to see that you’re high on Campusano, I have high hopes for him as well.

    • Thanks a lot, Don, appreciate that.

  • rw

    Dustin, you really do an excellent job. I hope you keep posting at least
    once or twice a week (or whatever works for you, but I hope you keep
    your hand in). You strike a great balance between readability and actual
    analytics content, which is surprisingly hard to find (at least IMO) on
    team-specific sites in 2017. Thanks!! rw

    • Thank you, rw, that means a lot. I’m shooting for once a week for a while, and maybe we’ll bump it up a bit as the offseason picks up. Thanks for reading.