Four years ago, I started a project out of, quite frankly, spite and disappointment.
I now feel a responsibility to maintain this thing I started.
Because the Padres Twittersphere is an ever-evolving entity. Players and people leave, sometimes even of their own accord. Some who have stayed have changed their Twitter usage to not be all that interesting of a follow anymore. Still others just seem to have given up the medium altogether.
Some do a bit of all of that, sailing off into the distance in silence, like a sailboat in the night.
So, here we are. The fourth iteration of my “Padres Must-Follow” Twitter list.
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.
Cal Quantrill, RHP, High-A Lake Elsinore
Don’t tell Quantrill that the Cal League is supposed to be friendly toward hitters. He’ll stare you down, find the nearest baseball, and strike you out with 95 mph heat.
Quantrill’s latest masterpiece came against Rancho Cucamonga, on Tuesday night, against a lineup that included major-league rehabbers Logan Forsythe and Joc Pederson along with some legit prospects. Quantrill’s line: six innings, seven hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, and a career-high 12 strikeouts.
As others have noted, the most important thing the Padres can do with Quantrill is try to keep his arm healthy. Coming off Tommy John surgery in college, there’s no rush to push Quantrill up a level or work him for innings. We don’t know all that much about arm health, so just take it slow, monitor his condition after each start, and watch his innings and pitches. So long as the arm stays together, natural talent should carry Quantrill in whichever direction he points it.
Reinaldo Ilarraza, 2B, Single-A Fort Wayne
Forget the numbers—he’s struck out at a 34 percent clip in 24 professional games—the best indicator about what the Padres think about Ilarraza might be the assignment. He’s 10 days younger than the more hyped Fernando Tatis Jr., just 18 and already in Single-A ball. He’s nearly 3.5 years younger than the average player at this level.
After suffering though some injuries last year, it would have been reasonable for Illarraza to stay back in the Arizona Rookie League to start 2017, then progress to Low-A Tri-City by the summer. Instead, the Padres skipped that option and ambitiously sent him to full-season Fort Wayne, where he’s flanked by similarly young teammates like the Tatis, Eguy Rosario, and Hudson Potts. It’s clear that the Padres aren’t scared to challenge certain prospects, and with all four of these guys playing on the infield, there’s a chance they could play together a bunch in the minors.
Ilarraza, signed out of Venezuela in July 2015 for $300,000, gets good reports for his baseball instincts but isn’t without plus tools. He plays stronger than his 5-foot-10, 150-pound frame, and word is he has enough arm strength to play short in the long run. Right now, with Tatis at short, he’s playing mostly second base, but there’s a decent chance he’ll slide over to short more regularly once an opportunity opens. Not even listed in Baseball America’s Padres top 30, Ilarraza is an under-the-radar prospect to watch. (Sac Bunt Dustin)
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.
Rafael De Paula, RHP, Double-A San Antonio
Minor-league relievers, man—they aren’t gonna churn the page views (read Oscar below).
De Paula, like most relievers, was once a starter when the Padres acquired him long ago from the Yankees as part of the return on Chase Headley. It took the right hander parts of three years to get through High-A ball as a starter, and he still couldn’t get his ERA below five. So midway through last season the Padres pulled the plug on the starting thing, and they’ve stuck with that decision this year while moving De Paula out of the hitter-friendly Cal League to Double-A San Antonio.
It worked. With nine innings at Triple-A El Paso sprinkled in with 54 1/3 at Double-A, De Paula has struck out 87 while walking 22 and surrendering just two home runs. There have always been concerns with his delivery and command, and a move to the bullpen has seemed inevitable for a few years now . . . but give De Paula credit, as he took his game to the pen and, at least by the numbers, turned his career around. There’s not much out there from a scouting perspective on him this season—remember, minor-league relievers and page views—but De Paula has an exciting enough late-inning power profile to likely earn a spot in the Padres ‘pen next season, and it’ll be interesting to see how his stuff translates into the majors. (Sac Bunt Dustin)
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.
So you like prospects? We do too, so we decided to carve out a place at the corner of the bar where we’ll talk them. . . non-stop, like that annoying dude discusses his car collection. Each week (hopefully) we’ll grab a select number of Padres minor leaguers we’re interested in and write about them, discussing everything from advanced statistics to prospect rankings to developmental strategy to first-hand scouting reports. (The format, you’ll note, is inspired by Baseball Prospectus’ Monday Morning Ten Pack.)
Austin Allen, C, Single-A Fort Wayne
As I noted in BP2016, Allen’s Twitter bio ends with the phrase “Somewhere Hitting Baseballs Hard.” It’s no lie. The first time I saw him in spring training, his sweet left-handed swing caught my attention. I made a point of watching his batting practice most days, and it was always the same: easy swings, loud contact. As FanGraphs’ David Laurila observed in May, “he’s looking for balls up in the zone and thinking middle of the field,” which isn’t a bad idea.
Allen brought that approach with him into his first full professional season at Fort Wayne, where he earned Midwest League Player of the Month honors in April with a ridiculous .460/.539/.603 line that included ten multi-hit games and only four zero-hit games. The 6’4” 225 lb Allen has cooled considerably since then (.267/.304/.379 from May 1 to July 25, including an 11-game hitting streak that remains intact as of this writing), but his overall numbers are solid. The 2015 fourth-round pick out of Florida Tech has performed especially well against southpaws, hitting .359/.391/.495 against them.