This is the seventh Friday mailbag in a row; thanks for all the great questions.

Manuel Margot‘s had a really solid rookie campaign, although certain aspects of his game have left something to be desired. On offense, the one thing that’s surprised me is his strikeout rate. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I figured he’d jump into the majors and make a lot of contact right away. So far he’s whiffing 19.2 percent of the time, which is a tick or two better than league average but maybe a bit higher than anticipated for someone who only struck out 11.5 percent of the time in his minor-league career and earned top prospect status largely for his hit tool.

Here’s the encouraging news on that front:

Month Strikeout %
April 27.6
May 19.0
June 27.8 (18 PAs)
July 23.1
August 14.6

Margot’s strikeout rate has been trending down this season, with August by far being his best month. Even more encouragingly, he’s been able to show both power and contact ability at the same time, swatting five homers and 10 extra-base hits this month. That’s a small sample, of course, but he’s hitting .281/.318/.494 in the second-half. He’s a rookie, so there’s not much to go on; steady improvement is all we can ask.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Michel Baez, RHP, Single-A Fort Wayne

I’ve been trying to work Baez into the lyrics of Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John for the better part of a month, but two things: 1) I’m not Geoff Young and 2) it’s not easy to compare the story of a pitcher from Cuba to that of a coal miner from Louisiana.

Point is, Baez is big—he stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 225—and he’s bad, and you get the sense that his sole purpose on the mound is to find new ways to embarrass Midwest League hitters. Heading into his sixth start of the year on Monday, Baez had already transformed himself from unheralded international signing to bonafide prospect. Over his first four starts in the Midwest League he pitched 23 innings while allowing just two runs, with 33 strikeouts, three walks, and 17 spoken words to teammates.

On Monday, Baez upped the ante by striking out 14 and walking none in a 6 2/3 innings masterpiece against the Dayton Dragons, a team that demoted itself to the Pioneer League five minutes after the game ended to avoid a potential rematch. Somewhere, a wise prospect sage is hollering TINSTAAPP, warning us never to get too excited about a pitching prospect with six professional starts. I’ll wait until Baez gives up three runs in an outing before tempering my expectations.

/Big bad Baez. (Sac Bunt Dustin)

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Series intro and week no. 1
Week no. 2

Logan Allen, LHP, Single-A Fort Wayne

The state of Indiana is known for Hoosiers, its anti-noodling law, and the Fort Wayne TinCaps’ starting rotation, which consists of Austin Smith, Jacob Nix (more on him later), Anderson EspinozaJean Cosme, now-injured Chris Paddack, and Logan Allen. Allen is a 6’3,’’ 200-pound lefty, originally drafted in the eighth round last year out of high school by the Red Sox, and acquired by the Padres as part of the Craig Kimbrel trade.

Last season, in the Red Sox organization, he pitched only 24 1/3 innings, mostly in the Gulf Coast League (rookie ball), but he struck out 26 while allowing just a lone walk and no home runs. That performance, combined with his age, stuff, and handedness, pushed him onto Baseball America’s top 10 Padres prospects list once it came out last December (he just missed BP’s top 10).

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Andrew Cashner. Gone. Matt Kemp. Gone. Melvin Upton Jr. Gone. Fernando Rodney. Gone. James Shields. Gone. Twelve out of thirteen draft picks from the first ten rounds of the 2016 Amateur Draft signed. Over $60 million in international signings so far, and that’s just since July 2nd.

One thing that all of these trades, draft picks, and international signings say to me is that Lake Elsinore is going to be the perfect place for Padres fans to watch baseball on a regular basis. And, it’s looking like it’s going to be that way for a couple of years, at least.

I’ll be honest, I should have written at least part of this earlier in the season. But the influx of talent to the lower levels of the minor leagues made it relevant again.

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It’s been kind of a busy week for me. On Monday, I posted a piece on the surprisingly awesome season Seth Smith is having. Amazingly, Seth Smith is still alive, well, and hitting the crap out of baseballs. This minor miracle would be enough to satiate me for a week, but it was also my anniversary this week. Four wonderful years of marriage. Good times. To celebrate, she dragged me to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and I dragged her to a minor league baseball game. Because the most important thing you need to know about marriage is that if you do something they want to do, you might be able to guilt them into doing something you want to do. Democracy. America.

Anyway, the Padres’ Low-A affiliate, the Fort Wayne TinCaps, traveled east to the Greater Cleveland Metropolitan Area this week for a three game series against the Lake County Captains. The Captains play about 45 minutes away from my home on the opposite side of town, and I hemmed and hawed on whether to make the trip, but when I found out that there were seats available in the front row directly behind home plate, I decided we had to make the trip. So we headed out on Tuesday for the 1pm start, and my wife was absolutely thrilled to find out the game would be delayed 45 minutes due to a small amount of pre-game rain.

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This is a list of the best prospects in the Padres’ organization.  To be eligible for this list a player must not have appeared in the majors. It’s a weird way to do things, but means more young prospects will appear.  Prospects are ranked both by their ultimate potential and the likelihood that they will reach that potential.  The easiest way to understand the rankings is to consider what order players would be selected in if the entire organization were eligible for a draft.  Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) for each prospect is when they would reach the majors if they were able to reach their potential.

Notes carried over from the 2013 Top 25:

  • Prospects have been split into tiers to help get a better idea of the talent gap between players (i.e. the difference between position 1 and 2 may not be the same as the difference between position 14 and 15). It is safe to assume that all players in a tier could be rearranged without much argument.
  • Risk Factors have been included to help show the largest road block faced in each player’s development

Tier 1

1) Austin HedgesHedges split his age-20 season between High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio. While his overall offensive production doesn’t jump out at you, Hedges continues to be a tough out against advanced competition. He will head back to San Antonio to begin 2014, but minimal development is required before Hedges is able to contribute at the big league level. ETA: 2014

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