What’s Brewing On The Farm: Some Eye-Catching Early Numbers

what's brewing on the padres farm system

MLB Farm, one of Daren Willman’s sites, has some pretty cool features. One of its coolest ones is the cumulative org stats page, which allows one to easily compare statistics from players across an entire farm system. Here are some eye-catching early stats—both good and bad—from the first couple months of 2017.

(stats through Tuesday’s games)

Position Players

Michael Gettys: 34.4 percent strikeout percentage

Gettys has been on a role of late, popping home runs with good regularity and padding his slash line. Then again, he’s still striking out in bunches. On Monday and Tuesday of this week alone, he went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts and a walk. Even in his last 10 games, over which he’s crushed four home runs and hit .351, Gettys has struck out 16 times, no better than his seasonal rate. He’s just 21, but he’s also getting his second look at the hitter-friendly Cal League, and he’s actually striking out more frequently (by six percentage points) this year than he did last year at Lake Elsinore. Gettys is full of exciting tools, but the main sticking point with him will continue to be whether or not he can make enough contact to let those tools play at the big-league level.

Reinaldo Ilarraza: 10-for-11 on stolen bases

Ilarraza is the best Padres base stealer in the minors in 2017, at least by the numbers. He’s fifth in the organization in total steals, but everyone with more thefts than him has been caught at least three times. Born on January 12, 1999, Ilarraza is the second-youngest player on a young Fort Wayne roster, just 10 days older than Fernando Tatis Jr. The rest of his stat line—.188/.248/.238, 26.5 percent K-rate—doesn’t inspire, but the age and ambitious assignment are enough cause to overlook it, for now. The early base stealing numbers, particularly the 91 percent success rate, point to a heady (and fast) young player, already possessing some base running acumen out of the chute.

Hudson Potts: six walks, 68 strikeouts

Speaking of young Fort Wayne hitters struggling offensively, Potts’ bat has obviously been exposed some in the Midwest League. He’s striking out 33 percent of the time and walking at a rate that makes Jeff Francoeur look like a discerning hitter. The ISO is just .107. Potts was drafted last year in the first round out of high school, and he won’t turn 19 until this fall. Scouts have generally liked what they’ve seen out of Potts, but it’s clear full-season ball is currently getting the better of him. Keep an eye on his peripheral stats as the season progresses, as he has plenty of time to adjust.

Luis Urias: 36 walks, 28 strikeouts

On the other hand, there’s Luis Urias, Professional Hitter. Only two players in the Padres org with regular playing time have more walks than strikeouts: Urias and Carlos Asuaje (34 walks, 28 strikeouts). Urias not striking out frequently is to be expected at this point, but he’s doubled his walk rate from 2015 and 2016, from just over seven percent then up to 14 percent so far this year. This is a 20-year-old, just barely, making the big jump up to Double-A San Antonio, and in his first two months there, he’s gotten even better. You expect a player to scuffle upon entering a new level, especially one who’s been promoted aggressively and is young for his new league. Urias does not scuffle; he just keeps hitting . . . and hitting . . . and hitting (and now he’s walking more, too).

Pitchers

Tyrell Jenkins: 41 walks

Jenkins, 24, isn’t really a prospect anymore, which is good because he leads the org in walks by 13. Picked up off waivers this winter, Jenkins struggled across the board with Atlanta last year in 52 major-league innings. He walked 5.7 per nine, didn’t strike anybody out, and gave up 11 home runs. Jenkins has always had his battles with ball four, but it’s never been this bad; the 5.7 K/9 last year with Atlanta and the 6.0 K/9 this year are by far his worst marks at any level. Right now, you’ve gotta think it’s something mechanical that’s out of whack.

Zech Lemond: 35 strikeouts, four walks, 33 innings

Lemond was drafted back in 2014, a third-round pick out of Rice. An undersized right hander, his professional career up to this year had been a disappointment. In 2015 and 2016, he pitched 241 1/3 innings at High-A Lake Elsinore, posting a 6.08 ERA, albeit with more encouraging peripherals (7.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9). He was better than that ERA, sure, but he was still a college guy failing to get Cal League hitters out, even in a second look at the level. Baseball America didn’t even list him on the Padres depth chart this year in the Handbook, let alone in the top 30.

Lemond’s now a 24-year-old in High-A, getting his third pass through the level, now as a reliever. That disqualifies him as a legitimate prospect in most circles. The results have been there, though. He’s jumped his strikeout rate up to 25.4 percent, nine percentage points over his previous Cal League performance. Further, he ain’t walking anybody; just four in 33 innings, which is an improvement over his already good walk numbers. Lemond won’t be making his way onto a top 10 list anytime soon, but keep an eye on him as a late-developing reliever; the starter-to-reliever conversion has revived many careers.

(Lemond even received a tepidly optimistic report from Baseball Prospectus’ Wilson Karaman earlier this year.)

Joey Lucchesi: 24.6 percent K%-BB%

Lucchesi looks like another good recent draft pick, taken in the fourth round last year. He absolutely dominated a conservative assignment to Tri-City last year (53 strikeouts, two walks, no home runs in 40 innings), so the Padres jumped him up to High-A Lake Elsinore this year, skipping Fort Wayne altogether. Lucchesi was ready, to say the least. He’s 24, so he should be pitching well in High-A, but the strikeout and walk numbers jump off the page. It’s not just the numbers, though, as even scout types are into Lucchesi. That linked report from BP’s J.H. Schroeder notes that he’s an adequate breaking ball away from mid-rotation upside. All arms and legs from a funky delivery, Lucchesi’s progress will be fun to watch, both aesthetically and by the numbers.

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