Luis Asuncion, OF, Low-A Tri-City
At 6’4,” 205 pounds, Luis Asuncion is already a physical specimen. The 20-year-old right fielder out of the Dominican Republic is in his second year with the Tri-City Dust Devils. Signed in November 2013, Asuncion played 2014 and 2015 in the Dominican Summer League, where he registered an OPS of .408 (as a 17-year-old) and .681 (as an 18-year-old) respectively. He was then bumped up to Tri-City in 2016, where he slashed .241/.335/.317 with a .651 OPS in 58 games. Even though he was a large kid, he was still obviously trying to fit into his body. And it showed. Asuncion only had thirteen extra-base hits in 199 at-bats, and ended the campaign with a 91 wRC+.
This year, though, Asuncion has showed much improvement. He is currently hitting .272 with a .408 SLG%. His OPS is up to .731, the wRC+ is at 103, and he has stolen six bases as well. Earlier this season, Luis was one of a selected few that represented the Northwest League in the HR Derby. He was also named as a Northwest League All-Star. Although Asuncion only hit one home run in the derby, he managed to take home the All-Star Game MVP by going 1-3 with an RBI double in the contest.
Although the numbers may not be eye popping and he is not a “top” prospect by any means, Asuncion deserves some attention just because he seemingly has built upon and improved each season in rookie ball. He is also super athletic, which does not hurt either. He will obviously have to improve on his 22.6 percent K rate and 6.6 percent walk rate he is currently showing this year, but I would not doubt that he starts next season in Fort Wayne and gets his feet wet in full-season ball. (John Horvath)
Enyel De Los Santos, RHP, Double-A San Antonio
If you start ranking the Padres’ pitching prospects, it’ll probably take you a while to get to Enyel De Los Santos. I count as many nine (NINE) arms I’d rank ahead of him, which speaks to both how loaded the system is and easy it is to underrate a quality arm.
De Los Santos is in his second year with the Padres after being acquired from the Mariners for Seth Smith. There were questions about whether De Los Santos was going to end up in the bullpen or rotation, since he had the plus fastball but lacked the secondary pitches.
He made 26 starts last year, splitting time between Fort Wayne (7 starts) and Lake Elsinore (15 starts). De Los Santos struggled after reaching High-A, and his numbers weren’t all that impressive either (52 Ks, 68 1/3 IP, 5.08 xFIP). Still, he was only 20 years old, three years younger than his competition in the Cal League.
The Padres weren’t deterred, though. They trusted their scouting report over De Los Santos’ poor performance, sent him to Double-A, and it’s paid off big time this year. His strikeout numbers are way up (22% this year, 17% last year), he’s reduced his walks (’16: 8.1%; ’17: 7.7%), and he’s sporting an impressive 3.68 xFIP in career-high 137 innings. Oh yeah, he’s also three years younger than the rest of the Texas League.
FanGraphs still isn’t super high on De Los Santos’ secondaries. They project his change-up to be just average with a below average curveball and good command. Those ratings were before De Los Santos’ impressive season, though, and I suspect with a closer look they’ll be updated accordingly. (Oscar)
Nate Easley, UTL, Single-A Fort Wayne
Nate Easley has been kind of overshadowed by former TinCap Fernando Tatis Jr. and current TinCap Hudson Potts as of late, which is understandable. Both have been extremely good. Still, though, the former Yavapai standout deserves at least a little recognition.
(Fun fact! Former Padre Great Kyle Blanks also attended Yavapai College).
The 23rd round pick in the 2016 MLB draft has gone 15-38 (.395) in his last ten games with eight RBI, five runs scored, and seven walks. His OBP in the last twenty-eight days is over .450 as he has catapulted himself up to the top of Fort Wayne’s batting order. He is doing all of this at the plate while being incredibly versatile in the field. This season, Easley has logged time at shortstop, second base, right field, and left field.
2017 has been Easley’s first full professional season, and he struggled mightily at first. He hit .188 in the first month of the season. He was promoted up to Lake Elsinore as a depth piece for a week and struggled there as well. He was demoted back to Fort Wayne, and somehow something clicked. Since being back in a TinCaps uniform, Easley has been quite good. He is up to a 124 wRC+, which, given how he started the year, is not too shabby. He has a 13.2 percent walk rate as well. Easley seems to be figuring it out, and if he keeps up this kind of production, it will be hard to overlook him for long. (John Horvath)
Jacob Nix, RHP, Double-A San Antonio
Nix has been the king of uneven performance in 2017. Earlier in the year, at Lake Elsinore, he pitched a nine inning, two-hit, 11-strikeout gem, and he also added a couple of solid seven-inning starts. On the ugly side of the ledger, however, he was tagged for 17 runs in 8 2/3 innings over two starts at Lancaster in July, a stretch that included 24 hits and just two strikeouts. On Tuesday, in his fourth Double-A start of the season, Nix delivered another clunker, completing just a fraction of an inning while allowing eight runs, serving up generally flat stuff that was battered all over the park.
Beyond the big picture stuff—the whiffs and the FIPs and the stuff—there’s been a hidden aspect of Nix’s performance that is somewhat concerning. In just 83 1/3 innings split between Lake Elsinore and San Antonio, Nix has allowed 27 stolen bases to just five CS. Lake Elsinore, where Nix has spent most of 2017, has allowed a bunch of steals on the year—nearly 1.4 per nine—but Nix’s 2.9 per nine mark is easily worse. He allowed two in not even an inning last time out, three the start before that, and a whopping 12 in the two Lancaster starts never to be discussed again.
Maybe it’s nothing, but maybe Nix’s lacking ability to hold runners and prevent steals is an indication of a larger issue. When he’s allowed base runners—like he did on Tuesday night—things have had the tendency to spiral out of control. Beyond the steals, themselves, perhaps Nix has let the presence of a speedy base runner mess with his timing or rhythm—or maybe he’s just not good at pitching out of the stretch. It’s something to keep an eye on either way. (Sac Bunt Dustin)
Hudson Potts, 3B, Single-A Fort Wayne
The TinCaps’ Hudson Potts was named the Midwest Player of the week, and is hitting .481/.533/.852 for a superlative 285 wRC+ over the past week.
The strikeouts have been a concern, but he’s seen solid improvement almost across the board between the first half of his plate appearances and the second half:
|Hudson Potts 2017|
|First Half||Second Half|
Awww yissss. 🦆
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Double-A San Antonio
I was all set to make another long drive to check out Tatis in the Midwest League before the news reverberated through Padres twitter. On Sunday, the Padres snatched Tatis from Fort Wayne and placed him in San Antonio, skipping over the Cal League altogether. It’s an aggressive move for several reasons, but it makes some sense, too.
Tatis had racked up 21 walks in 76 plate appearances in Single-A this month. That’s a good sign for his development, but also perhaps an indication that opposing pitchers in the Midwest League had finally smartened up and stopped pitching to him. With just a few weeks left in the season, the Padres probably wanted to present Tatis with one last challenge. But why did they have him skip High-A? The best guess there is that the Padres wanted to keep him in the thick of a playoff race. It might not mean much in the long run, but it’s one of those things that probably doesn’t hurt either.
After going 0-for-3 with a warning track fly out in his Double-A debut, Tatis collected his first hit with the Missions last night. It’s unclear what the Padres have planned for Tatis next season. While a step back down to Lake Elsinore to start the season is logical, the young shortstop has plenty of time—between the rest of this season, fall and winter ball, and spring training—to prove to the Padres that he’s ready for regular reps at Double-A. At 19.
It’s okay to be excited here. (Sac Bunt Dustin)