It’s been kind of a busy week for me. On Monday, I posted a piece on the surprisingly awesome season Seth Smith is having. Amazingly, Seth Smith is still alive, well, and hitting the crap out of baseballs. This minor miracle would be enough to satiate me for a week, but it was also my anniversary this week. Four wonderful years of marriage. Good times. To celebrate, she dragged me to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and I dragged her to a minor league baseball game. Because the most important thing you need to know about marriage is that if you do something they want to do, you might be able to guilt them into doing something you want to do. Democracy. America.
Anyway, the Padres’ Low-A affiliate, the Fort Wayne TinCaps, traveled east to the Greater Cleveland Metropolitan Area this week for a three game series against the Lake County Captains. The Captains play about 45 minutes away from my home on the opposite side of town, and I hemmed and hawed on whether to make the trip, but when I found out that there were seats available in the front row directly behind home plate, I decided we had to make the trip. So we headed out on Tuesday for the 1pm start, and my wife was absolutely thrilled to find out the game would be delayed 45 minutes due to a small amount of pre-game rain.
The TinCaps jumped out to an early lead, but a series of really horrible errors by just about everyone on the team allowed the Captains to take a 6-2 lead into the 6th. A 3 run home run by 20 year old prospect Henry Charles cut the deficit to 1. Catcher Adolfo Reina singled home the tying run in the 8th, but then the Captains walked off in the 9th with a walk and 2 singles. My wife was just glad the game didn’t go to extra innings.
All that said, whether my team’s minor league affiliate wins or loses doesn’t mean all that much to me. I was there to see prospects, many of whom were playing their first full seasons of professional baseball. I was there to see Franmil Reyes, Mallex Smith, Dustin Peterson, Fernando Perez, Josh VanMeter, and Jake Bauers, to name a few. I took some videos, but as it is with such things, nothing ever happens when you’re actually hoping it will. My wife took some pictures. Those turned out better.
Disclaimer: these are merely my observations based on one game and some preconceived notions. I’m not a scout, just a baseball fan.
Franmil Reyes RF
Reyes, who ranked 15th on Padres Prospects preseason top 25, is a massive kid. Still just 18 years old, he’s listed at 6’5″ and 240 pounds, and he was by far the biggest guy on the field. His thighs are ridiculous. He is a physical specimen. He really should be playing linebacker at USC right now, but he’s from the Dominican so he plays baseball. Franmil went 2-3 with a walk on Tuesday. Both hits were singles and neither was hit hard. He beat out an infield hit in the 8th, and also made a diving catch in right field.
He’s got raw power, good speed, and strong arm. He’s got all the projection you could ask for in a player. He’s also a big work in progress. His swing has a lot of glitches in it, and he’s relying heavily on his arms when he should be getting those thighs and hips involved and creating massive torque. Still, he battled successfully against decent pitching when I saw him and hit his 5th home run of the season the next morning. There is a lot to dream on. At this point, you gotta hope he stops growing so he can stay in the OF and not be relegated to 1B.
Jake Bauers 1B
Bauers is another 18 year old kid, drafted in the 7th round last year, and entered the season as the Padres 18th best prospect. To be honest, he didn’t really stand out in person, but he did have a sharp single to right and a walk. The left-handed hitting first baseman is actually having a great year so far, with a .346/.422/.487 line for a .909 OPS. He’s kind of the opposite of Reyes. He’s not much to look at, but he’s got a compact, finished swing, and he’s getting results out of it. He’s not going to be a quick mover through the system though. He’s young, limited to first base, and I don’t think he’ll have a ton of power. To be successful, he’s going to have to hit for average and get on base.
Mallex Smith CF
Mallex Smith is fast. He stole three bases on Tuesday, raising his season total to 33. He has since added 1 more. He took second twice, easily both times. He also stole third, taking off in between batters while the Captains weren’t paying attention and sliding in well ahead of the throw. He was picked off at 1st late in the game by Captains lefty Matt Whitehouse, but TinCaps manager Michael Collins was positive that Whitehouse had balked on the pick-off attempt. I didn’t see it well enough to form an opinion.
Smith squared to bunt each time he came to plate. He only got one down, and it wasn’t great. He did walk twice and single. He also made a highlight reel diving catch in center that I wish there was video of. He’s got plus plus speed and range, but he’s undersized and he’s repeating the level this year at 21. He’s going to steal a ton of bases in the minors, but I’m not sure he’s a future major leaguer.
Dustin Peterson 3B
Peterson was the Padres 2nd round pick last year, and ranked 21st in the Padres system this preseason. I don’t have a lot to say about Peterson because he left the game after 3 innings. He looked good at third, but did make a throwing error. He struck out twice. He may be battling a minor injury. I was excited to see him, but I didn’t get much to look at.
Fernando Perez 2B-3B
I was also excited to see Perez, because he’d been having a great year. From Chula Vista, he ended up at a JC in Arizona, and was drafted in the 3rd round in 2012. He’s still only 20 and in his first year of full-season ball. I didn’t get to see the impressive Perez though, as he went 0-4 with 2 strikeouts, and after moving over from second to third when Peterson left the game, he also had a throwing error.
Josh VanMeter 2B
VanMeter, last year’s 5th rounder of Norwell HS in Indiana, entered the game in the 4th at second when Peterson left. He went 0-2 with a walk, and let a routine grounder go right through his legs. He’s got a good approach, but the impression I got is he’s struggling to adjust to professional ball.
Henry Charles LF
Charles, a left-handed hitter, hasn’t had much success since coming to the states from the Dominican. He had a .652 OPS in Eugene last year and he’s barely cracking .600 so far with Fort Wayne. On Tuesday, however, he saw a couple nice fastballs and took advantage, lining a triple into the gap in right-center, and then crushing a three run homer down the line in the 6th. He’s got decent size and a nice swing, but obviously I caught him on a good day.
Eric Yardley RHP
I didn’t get to catch any of the TinCaps best pitchers. 23 year old starter Coby Cowgill didn’t make it out of the 3rd. Yardley got the last out of the inning and pitched 2 more, allowing just an unearned run on no hits, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts. Yardley, who was mis-identified on the scoreboard, is a 23 year old side-winder with crazy movement on his pitches and decent pop. My wife really enjoyed taking pictures of his throwing motion.
Genison Reyes RHP
Reyes was the best TinCaps pitcher I saw in terms of potential. He’s tall and lean, repeats his delivery well, and throws hard with a pretty nice slider. He struggled in the time with the TinCaps last year, and he’s got a 7.11 ERA so far this year, but he’s got good stuff and he’s striking out over 11 per 9 innings. He had 3 strikeouts in 2 innings Tuesday, gave up 2 hits and a walk, but didn’t allow a run.
That’s all I’ve got. The TinCaps come back to town a couple more times this season. We’ll see if I get a chance to catch any of those. If I do, I’ll be sure to report what I see.
The Vocal Minority posts on Mondays, but also on Fridays about things that happened on Tuesday. Follow me on Twitter. Bring back the brown.