Another Friday, another twitter mailbag.

Here’s how I’d rank the priorities of Andy Green this season, particularly for the last couple of months.

  1. Develop young players
  2. Develop older players/maximize their future trade value
  3. Keep good clubhouse moral and all that jazz
  4. Read at least one good book a week
  5. Go all-out to win games

On a contending team, those five things might be reversed (toss the books), but the Padres are 50-64, and they’re in no position to make any kind of run toward even the periphery of the playoff race. They’re not a winning team, and we essentially knew they weren’t going to be a winning team all season. They shouldn’t treat games the same way a winning team treats games.

Yesterday, in the seventh inning of a one-run game in Cincinnati, Green violated the hierarchy of priorities, putting no. 5 over no. 2 while brushing up against the warm fuzzies of no. 3 in the process, likely ticking off Kirby Yates. With runners on first and second, one out, and Joey Votto at the plate (in a 2-2 count!), Green yanked Yates for All-Star Brad Hand.

So, just to be clear here, Green brought Hand, an important future trade candidate, into a game in the middle of an at-bat against one of the best hitters in baseball to try to protect a one-run lead against direct tank competition.

What’s wrong with that move?

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No matter what’s happening at the big-league level, the Padres have collected an overwhelming amount of talent over the last few years. Even though Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, and Hunter Renfroe all graduated from last year’s top 20, the system right now is arguably just as good, with the emergence of prospects like Fernando Tatis Jr., Eric Lauer, and Michel Baez. Michael Gettys, ranked seventh on our list at the end of last season, didn’t even crack our top 20 this go around, and he’s having a fine season as a 21-year-old in Lake Elsinore (okay, the strikeouts are a concern). And there are a bunch of other intriguing names that also fell short.

Over the last couple of weeks, the What’s Brewing On The Farm crew has been huddled at Padres Public headquarters, trying to sort out this heap of exciting prospects. Our creation is a midsummer’s top 20 for your enjoyment.

20. Luis Campusano, 18, Catcher
AZL Padres: 40 PA, .290/.450/.581, 22.5 BB%, 25.0 K%

Campusano, a bat-first backstop, is the opposite of the other catcher the Padres took early in this year’s draft, Blake Hunt. You could probably take either one, depending on your preference for polished defense vs. bigger offensive potential at catcher. Campusano’s tool set includes plenty of bat speed and over-the-fence power, the kind of raw offensive skills that work at any position. He’s 18, so there’s still plenty of work to do on the offensive side of the ball, but the main question with Campusano might be how the work behind the dish progresses.

Eric Longenhagen had a mostly negative report on his defense from a late-June viewing, but it’s early. On the plus side, it’s possible his bat makes him an interesting prospect even at first base or in an outfield corner, but obviously that kind of switch would put a dent into his prospect status. For now, cross your fingers and hope the Padres can develop Campusano into a good catcher. Remember, Yasmani Grandal was once viewed as a bat-first catcher too. (Sac Bunt Dustin)

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Michel Baez, RHP, Single-A Fort Wayne

I was initially going to begin this post with a graphic description of Michel Baez’s fastball, but thought better of it because Baez’s fastball is already nasty (folks!!!!!!!!!!!!).

Signed out of Cuba last year for $3 million, the 6-foot-8 right-hander’s been pitching professionally in Cuba since 2014. He started the year in Arizona Rookie League, where he flexed (10 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 16 K) his power fastball at the expense of some poor, poor bastards.

How good is his fastball? Here’s what MadFriars (people who actually know what they’re talking about) wrote after Baez’s dominant debut at Fort Wayne:

“Baez was sitting 96 mph on his fastball, reaching up to 98 at times. He struck out two in the first throwing almost nothing but his fastball. If that didn’t impress an all-time crowd in Fort Wayne, Baez busted out his changeup in the fifth. He struck out the side making the batters look clueless. He finished the night striking out five of the final six batters he faced.”

One interesting thing about Baez is he’s already 21, obviously much older than a typical July 2 signing, and making him a bit old for the level. I wonder if the Padres might decide to bump him to Lake Elsinore at some point this season, especially if he keeps making it look easy against Low-A hitters. (Oscar)

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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.

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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.
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what's brewing on the padres farm system

After starting our What’s Brewing On The Farm series, we thought we would put it all together by publishing our own top Padres prospects list. It’s important to note that while we’ve seen a few of these players in person, we aren’t scouts or experts. We follow the Padres farm and collect as much info as we can from a variety of real experts.

What follows is a list based on mixing those opinions, and our own preferences of the importance of a player’s qualities. It’s also a mixture of each contributor’s thoughts into one final result. So throw on your AJ Preller approved bucket hat, it’s about to get real prospecty in here.

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Series intro and week no. 1week no. 2week no. 3, week no. 4

Eric Lauer, LHP, Low-A Tri-City

Eric Lauer was drafted 25th overall in the first round of this year’s draft. Our buddy Grant Jones covered Lauer in late May at Baseball Prospectus, where he noted the left hander’s fastball wasn’t a true out pitch but it sat at 93 and touched 94. Reports from John Sickels and Chris Crawford provide additional perspectives: the rest of his arsenal of a slider, 11-7 curve, and change up are at least average with the potential for more, and unmistakably major-league starting pitcher material.

John provides video of Lauer courtesy of Jheremy Brown. To my eye, I notice a quirk in Lauer’s delivery where he rotates his body to face first base immediately before getting into the windup. Former Padre Casey Kelly has a similar quirk.

So far this season Lauer’s made two quick starts in the Arizona Rookie League and 6 in short season Tri-City. As one (at least one Padre fan) would hope, he’s dominated as a polished first round pick for the Dust Devils, striking out 10.7 per 9 innings with a 2.17 FIP.

Thanks in part to Lauer’s command and repertoire, he’s seen as a “safe” pick to move quick and has middle-to-back-end rotation potential. While not exactly sexy (prospect-wise; he’s a dashing young man), pitchers today are valuable as they are fragile. In a world where Ian Kennedy is worth $70 million over five years, middle-to-back-end starters might be the new Moneyball. (That joke never gets old. Not to me anyway.) (Sac Bunt Chris)

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Hey, here’s the thing: Nobody really knows nothin’ about these kids.

I don’t mean that literally, of course. There are really, really smart people at places like Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, ESPN, and MLB (et. cetera) who know a ton about these guys—they know home-to-first times and statistics and what the scouts are saying and how many pets each player has had. What they don’t know—and, really, what they can’t know—is how these players are going to develop. Are they going to stay healthy? Are they going to find that third pitch or that perfect swing? Are they going to be the low-ceiling pitcher who turns into Jake Arrieta or the fringy bat who becomes Paul Goldschmidt? Are they going to get sidetracked with fame and money?

Go back to the 2009 draft (or any draft). The Nationals took Stephen Strasburg first overall that year, which was, at the time, a super-obvious pick. And what a pick it was! Strasburg’s been worth 17 WAR, he’s currently one of the best pitchers in the game, and he recently signed a relatively team-friendly contract extension. Whew . . . great pick!

Except it was a terrible pick, because a player named Mike Trout was available. In fact, Trout was available when the Padres took Donavan Tate third overall and when the Orioles took Matt Hobgood fifth overall and when the A’s took Grant Green 13th overall and when the Diamondbacks took Bobby Borchering 16th overall and . . . [insert any team and any pick before No. 25 here]. That year Baseball America’s scouting report compared Trout to Aaron Rowand while mentioning that his bat was “not a sure thing, but he has a chance to be a solid-average hitter with average or better power.” Mike Trout was once just another guy.

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