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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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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what's brewing on the padres farm system

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.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Franchy Cordero, CF, Triple-A El Paso

When I last wrote about Franchy Cordero, he was just knocked out of the #30 spot in MLB Pipeline’s prospect rankings for the Padres. I thought he’d be back on their list and he was in fact rewarded for a solid season by returning to the list at #25. But an even better reward for his last season was the Padres placing Cordero on the 40-man roster. Cordero also played quite a bit this spring as he appeared in 17 games and had 27 at-bats for the big-league team. He did not hit all too well, going 5-27, and slashing .185/.343/.370. Good news here was he hit a double and two triples and stole two bases, so he did show some productivity while playing solid defense in the outfield.

Cordero should begin the season in El Paso playing for the Triple-A Chihuahuas. He was reassigned to the minors by the Padres on the 19th of March. If Manuel Margot breaks camp with the Padres, Cordero will most likely man center field. If Margot is sent down for team control considerations, then Cordero should be in right. Either way, Cordero will provide excellent insurance in case the injury bug bites the Padres in the outfield. With Jabari Blash all but assured of making the 25-man roster, it would make sense for the next outfielder up to be Cordero. (Billy Lybarger)

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Sometimes, What’s Brewing On The Farm can’t contain all of our hot prospect takes. Last Call is a semi-weekly installment sure to quench any remaining prospect thirst you might have.

The best thing about the newly minted What’s Brewing On The Farm feature at Padres Public is how it’s become a perpetual content generator. The Padres have finally embraced the #FullLuhnow (#FullHoyer?) and are tanking games with the greatest of ease; the All-Star hype has given way to an admission that the team is, in fact, currently engaged in a full rebuild.

All eyes are on the farm system, and – as Billy and I discussed last week – a lot of those eyes are no longer focused on what many perceived to be the crown jewel of the Craig Kimbrel deal: Javier Guerra. This season has been disastrous.

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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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This Offense Might Stink

I try very hard not to get too swayed by early season results, and getting shutout by Clayton Kershaw, like what happened on Opening Day, is just a thing that’s supposed to happen in life. But the Padres have now been blanked four times in nine games, and they scored just once last night and five times over a three-game set with the projected cellar-dwelling Phillies—and two of those three games were started by Charlie Morton, who I proudly picked on my HACKING MASS team, and Jerad Eickhoff, who is quickly monopolizing the Google search term “Jerad.”

Of course, in between the shutouts the Padres exploded for 29 runs in two games against the Rockies, and you can’t completely discount that kind of hitting performance even though it happened in Colorado. It’s a sign, at least, that this team won’t get shutout at a 44.4 percent clip all season, which is what happened last year (I think). The bigger concern is that they haven’t scored more than four runs in any of the other seven games, and this isn’t an offense we were expecting a ton out of going into the season. Crap.

Obligatory Andy Green Complaints

It’s certainly possible that we all got a little carried away with Jabari Blash. Fun name, power potential, cool story, nice fella—it’s easy to get carried away with that kind of profile. But I really believe this dude might be somethingHe ranks second in the entire Padres organization in PECOTA-projected TAv, which I’m sure I’ve referenced in this space before.

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Padres acquire: RHP Enyel De Los Santos and INF Nelson Ward from Mariners
Padres trade: RHP Joaquin Benoit to Mariners

Benoit’s been both consistent and effective since returning from shoulder surgery in 2010, but he turned 38 in July, he’s a reliever, and his peripherals dipped in 2015. He’s also owed $7.5 million in 2016, all of which combined to make him an ideal trade candidate for a Padres team treading the water between rebuilding and retooling. Despite Benoit’s track-record as a shutdown setup man, he didn’t bring a ton back from Seattle—he’s a 38-year-old relief pitcher with declining peripherals, after all.

De Los Santos is about what you’d expect from a not quite 20-year-old pitching prospect: He throws reasonably hard from a solid frame, and his career could go in any number of a hundred different directions. He’s certainly the type of prospect you don’t mind acquiring, but he’s also one you pencil into a future role only if you have an eraser handy.

Ward’s spent time at both second base and shortstop since entering pro ball in 2014, and he hit .278/.365/.436 last year—a line inflated by 337 plate appearances in the hitter-friendly Cal League. He fits the versatile backup infielder mold if the remaining development goes as planned.

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