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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When the Padres acquired Pedro Avila from the Nationals last December, he was just an ordinary prospect—or at least he was supposed to be one. You can’t expect to get a good prospect for Derek Norris, not after Norris put up a .222/.283/.370 slash line in two seasons in San Diego, bottoming out in 2016.

Since coming over to the Padres, however, Avila’s quietly been distancing himself from ordinary prospect territory, as Ryan Luz documented recently over at Padres Prospectus. He’s back at Single-A currently, after some moderate struggles with Lake Elsinore earlier this year, but he’s still struck out 28 percent and allowed just 0.4 HR/9 on the season, rosy numbers for a 20-year-old no matter the level.

Then, last night happened. Avila gathered his favorite loud noise instruments—his vuvuzelas and his fog horns and his trumpets—and ensured himself a little attention in a farm system packed with attention-hogging prospects. Facing the Great Lakes Loons, in front of 3,018 patrons at a place called Dow Diamond in Midland, Michigan, Avila struck out 17 and walked none in eight innings.

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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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The Padres announced earlier tonight that pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza will undergo Tommy John surgery. Espinoza was acquired last summer from the Boston Red Sox for Drew Pomeranz. He made seven starts down the stretch at Fort Wayne last season, but hasn’t pitched at all this year, held back for precautionary reasons. Espinoza will have the surgery next week in Dallas, Texas.

Here are some thoughts on the matter.

1. Get well, Anderson Espinoza

We often think about how an injury like this affects the Padres. That’s only natural, of course, but it’s important to think about Espinoza here. The Padres will be fine. On the other hand, Espinoza’s a 19-year-old who hasn’t pitched a minor-league game in 11 months, and who now has to deal with a significant surgery and a long, grueling recovery, one that certainly doesn’t guarantee a return to previous form.

Espinoza signed for $1.8 million back in 2014, so he’s doing okay. Once you factor in buscones, taxes, and living on a paltry minor-league salary for a few years, though, he hasn’t really earned the big bucks yet. He still has a bright future, we hope, but it’s hard not to feel for someone who’s right arm, gifted as it is, has failed him. The most important thing here is that Anderson Espinoza gets healthy for Anderson Espinoza. If that happens, the Padres will be beneficiaries, and so will we.

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Hey, another twitter mailbag. Thank you twitter.

In this type of scenario, I’m inclined to just say, hey, Wil Myers is what the overall numbers say he is. So far, in his career, Myers has a 110 wRC+. This year it’s 108. In 2015 and 2016 it was 115. So, he’s like a 110-115 wRC+ guy going forward, which is fine but not great for a first baseman.

However, with Myers, I still hold out some hope for more. And let’s be honest, we all want to be optimists at heart, drinking our water from glasses that are always half full.

Optimist point No. 1: Myers is just 26 years old. A solid player suddenly reaching new heights in his late 20s is far from unheard of; just of the top of my head, there are guys like Jose Bautista and Eric Thames that jump off the page. Bautista, for example, went from a below average hitter to one of the best hitters in the America League for a few years, right at age 29. It’d be silly to count on that from Myers, or anybody, but there’s always a chance things just suddenly click.

Optimist point No. 2: I still think it’d be worth looking into revamping his swing in the offseason. If it was working, fine, go with it. But there’s no good reason his swing has to look like that, especially when he’s hitting at a level below what both he and the Padres probably expect. It might be somewhat risky, but it’s possible that even just a swing tweak could set Myers on the right path.

Short answer: He’s probably something like what we’ve seen, but breakout potential exists. I’ll say he’s able to jump his wRC+ into the 120s or 130s, at least, for a few years here.

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I used to do this Twitter Q&A thing a few years back, so with nothing to write about last night, I decided to reboot the series. Twitter came through.

With Yangervis Solarte currently out with a strained oblique, this question gets a little more complicated. Still, I have a feeling the Padres will end up sticking with Solarte even if he comes back before the deadline (the guys at Gwynntelligence felt the same way on their podcast yesterday). There are some soft factors that make a lot sense there, plus the Tigers didn’t get back a whole bunch for J.D. Martinez in a recent trade. It seems like most teams just aren’t looking to add position players at the deadline, as everyone scrambles for more arms. The Red Sox could make sense for a fit if they want to be patient with their top prospect, third baseman Rafael Devers.

If Solarte stays in San Diego, that means he’ll be getting regular reps at second. That leaves Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje to duke it out over at third, with both of them likely getting time at second and in the outfield. Ryan Schimpf lurks in El Paso as an obvious candidate for a late-season recall, but it’s not clear that the Padres are too high on him.

I’m not sure if any team would actually trade for Erick Aybar, and I write that with all due respect to the lad. He works as a fine placeholder with the Padres, but I wouldn’t mind them getting “crazy” and putting either Spangenberg or Asuaje there (they could try both, although that’d leave nobody manning third). Sometimes a guy ends up playing better there than you’d think, plus it give you an extra opportunity to get another interesting position player on the field every day. Jose Rondon could also get a look at some point, although he’s currently on the DL at Triple-A El Paso. Aybar’s 33 years old and a replacement level player; I’d like to see the Padres use the second half to audition a few other players at short.

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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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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Luis Almanzar, 3B/SS, Low-A Tri-City

If don’t scout the stat line is a thing, then don’t scout the video clip is probably one too.

Either way, I couldn’t help but be impressed with that swing. I’m not sure how hard the pitch was or anything, but it looked like a fastball well inside on Almanzar’s hands, and he was able to turn on it, keep it fair, and line it to relatively deep left. That looks like some mighty fine bat speed for a guy who’s 17 years old, just a couple of week into his professional debut. Almanzar went 1-for-4 last night, which gives him an eight-game hitting streak; he also poked a (wind-aided) fly ball that was caught on the right-field warning track. Overall, he’s been off to a good start offensively, with five doubles, four steals, and nine walks (15 percent) in 13 games.

Defensively, it might be more of a work in progress. Almanzar had a ball clank off his glove at third last night and then awkwardly pulled up on a foul pop-up near the stands in the same inning. Further, Padres Jagoff didn’t seem overly impressed after his in-person viewing. It’s really early, of course, and it’s impressive enough that players like Almanzar are starting their careers in the Northwest League. We’ll try to chill out about the early returns, but it’s impossible to not pay attention. (Sac Bunt Dustin)

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It’s June and the Padres are 31–45; that means it’s the time of the year when mid-season prospect list start popping up. Last week Padres ProspectusEast Village Times, and Phillip unveiled lengthy and well-done Padres prospect lists, and somewhere in his east coast palatial estate David Marver is (apparently) working on a top 110 or something. I figured, what the heck, here’s mine.

(all stats through some point this weekend)

11. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Single-A Fort Wayne

You might glance at Fernando Tatis Jr.’s numbers and wonder what all the fuss is about. Tatis is hitting “just” .260/.338/.430 in 296 plate appearances. He’s striking out 26.3 percent of the time and walking 9.5 percent of the time. He has 12 steals in 20 tries. There are two things here:

1. Once you adjust for age, those numbers are quite good. In the Midwest league there are only 11 18-year-old position players. Of them, only offensive wunderkind Vladimir Gurerro Jr. has a higher wRC+ than Tatis (146 to 116). Keibert Ruiz is tied with Tatis, but five of the others—including teammates Jack Suwinski, Hudson Potts, and Reinaldo Ilarraza—have figures of 80 or lower. Flip over to the South Atlantic League, the Midwest League’s east coast cousin, and it’s more of the same. There are only two 18-year-old position players there, and neither has a wRC+ better than 110.

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