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.
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.
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.
Living in Cleveland since 2006, I’ve been casually following the local NBA team, the Cavaliers, since my arrival. First, we had Lebron, and it was pretty cool. Then, all of a sudden, we had no Lebron, which wasn’t fun. Now we have Lebron again! It’s wild.
Wilder still, although the Cavs had the 9th worst record in the NBA last year, through the magic of the NBA draft lottery, they defied the odds and landed the 1st pick in this year’s draft. In the NBA, any team that doesn’t make the playoffs has a chance to win the #1 overall pick, and the Cavs lucked out, despite having less than a 2% chance of winning the lottery.
In MLB, there is no lottery, but there’s something almost as important. Teams who finish with the 10 worst records have their 1st round draft picks protected in the following year’s draft. That means those teams can sign a free agent who has received a qualifying offer from their current team without losing their first round draft pick. They’ll still forfeit a draft pick, but it will be a much less valuable 2nd round pick.
How much less valuable is a 2nd round pick? This year, the Padres paid their 1st round pick, Trea Turner, and over-slot bonus of $2.9 million. They also gave their 2nd round pick, Michael Gettys, an over-slot bonus, but of just $1.3 million. The gap only widens as you near the top of the draft, as top 10 picks in this year’s draft received bonuses up to $6.582 million, while no 2nd rounder got more than $1.8 million, and the highest slot value in the 2nd round was only $1.35 million.
If there’s anything disconcerting about the San Diego Padres early selections from last week’s amateur draft – namely first-round shortstop Trea Turner and second-round outfielder Michael Gettys – it isn’t their talent.
The Padres took Turner 13th overall and he’s ranked 9th on Baseball America’s top 500. He’s a slick fielding shortstop with out-of-this-world speed and a solid offensive track-record at North Carolina State. Gettys, taken 51st overall and ranked 40th on BA’s big board, has a skill-set you can dream on. The Georgia prep outfielder has a big arm and, according to Baseball America’s scouting report, “plus raw power and 70 speed in the 60-yard dash.”
If everything works out – a common phrase when talking about untested draft picks – both Turner and Gettys, like many early-round selections, have a chance to be stars. Everything doesn’t often work out, however, and if there’s one negative both players have in common, it’s the big question mark surrounding their respective hit-tool.