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)
Last week we (somewhat) briefly discussed the surprisingly anticlimactic end of the Chase Headley saga in San Diego, the unexciting return brought back from the New York Yankees for his services, and the fact that, inexplicably, the Padres had to send $1 million to the Bronx to complete the deal.
The Headley contract situation went about as badly as it could have for the Padres (and arguably for Headley, too), as they played it year-to-year and both failed to keep him around long-term and failed to trade him when he had a legitimate spike in value immediately following his 2012 breakout. In the end, tails between their legs, the GM-less Padres dealt him to New York for a 27-year-old utility infielder and a 23-year-old starting pitcher (who is projected as a future reliever) still in high-A ball.
At one point in my article last week, I wondered, “Why wouldn’t the Padres just hold onto Headley and give him a qualifying offer for $14-ish million this offseason?” Upon further reflection, that seems to be a subject that deserves additional examination. If the market for the third basemen’s services had sunken to the depths of a Yangervis Solarte/Rafael De Paula return combo … why not hold onto Headley?
There are at least a few reasons why keeping the third basemen around would have made sense.
The San Diego Padres have been in the spotlight quite a bit of late, as the recent trades of Huston Street and Chase Headley as well as the firing of Josh Byrnes and the (very public) search for his replacement have garnered national attention. Sometimes, even with stories that produce league-wide shockwaves, minor – and not so minor – details are glossed over. We must not gloss over those details.
(Trevor Gott Here)
Trevor Gott was a pitcher in the Padres organization, drafted in the sixth-round of the 2013 draft. He’s now a pitcher in the Los Angeles Angels organization, as he was dealt along with Huston Street to the Angels last week for a quartet of prospects.
I’ve read at least three or four articles on this deal that failed to even mention Gott’s involvement in it. It’d be one thing to overlook Gott if the Padres had brought back a blue-chip prospect or two, but they didn’t. Baseball Prospectus ranked the Angels system dead-last in the majors for the second consecutive year back in February. Further, the Angels were one of only two teams (the Milwaukee Brewers) not represented at least once on BP’s top 101 prospects list. Baseball America concurred on the state of the system, although Taylor Lindsay (93rd) did narrowly crack its top 100.
That isn’t to say the Padres didn’t acquire some nice pieces for Street, a 30-year-old closer on a team that produces relief pitchers by the dozen, can’t score runs, and might not be competitive for a year or two.
The Padres sent third baseman Chase Headley to the Yankees today in exchange for utility man Yangervis Solarte, long-shot pitching prospect Rafael De Paula, and about $3 million in freed salary.
Solarte, drafted by the Twins, was signed as a minor league free agent by the Rangers in 2011 and again by the Yankees in 2014. His stock rose this year after a hot start in New York, though he was later sent back to the minors after cooling off. Fangraphs projections systems see him as a near .255 / .330 / .380 hitter the rest of the year, so hopefully his defense proves versatile enough to be a useful bench player. John Sickels has more on Solarte from earlier this season.
Rafael De Paula sports a solid K/9 over his career, and has lowered his walk rate enough this season for a nice enough 3.34 FIP for the Yankees in high-A Tampa.