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.
— Padres Jagoff (@PadresJagoff) June 27, 2017
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)
Michel Baez, RHP, AZL
Here are two tweets:
Michel Baez just shoved a baseball here in Surprise. 95-97 and painting the black. Monster arm
— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) June 28, 2017
Michel Baez is so damn good. Look from last night still lingering. Advanced w/ feel and adjustment. Competitive. Special arm. Pitcher
— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) June 28, 2017
Ben Davey, from MadFriars, had similarly glowing words in a recent daily minor-league report. I don’t really have much to add other than: holy cow this farm system is loaded. Baez, an under-the-radar J-2 signing from Cuba late in 2016, is 6-foot-8, 220 pounds. He got $3 million, but he was hardly recognized as a hot commodity beforehand. He’s already 21 and he was allowed to go five innings in his stateside debut, so don’t be surprised if he moves through the system somewhat quickly. (Sac Bunt Dustin)
Yimmi Brasoban, RHP, Double-A San Antonio
Last week, I wrote about a starter-turned-reliever Brad Wieck. Here’s another one. 23-year-old Yimmi Brasoban was signed by the Padres as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic. After having a combined 4.13 ERA and a 7.28 K/9 through his first four professional years as a starting pitcher, Brasoban was moved to the bullpen to begin the 2015 season… and he started dominating. In two-plus seasons as a reliever spanning three professional levels, the 6’1” right hander has struck out more than a batter per inning (9.34/9) while registering a sub-3 ERA (2.21) and FIP (2.93).
This past offseason was interesting for Yimmi (the best name in the organization, IMO), to say the least. In November, the right hander underwent stem cell/PRP therapy in order to try and fix an ailing elbow injury. The injury was sustained while he was pitching for the Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League. Then, in December, the Padres failed to protect him in the Rule 5 draft, leaving him eligible to be picked. Guys like BA’s Rule 5 maestro JJ Cooper seemed to think it was a near lock for Brasoban to be selected. Despite these reports, Brasoban was not selected (probably due to teams being unsure about the health of his arm).
Following the Rule 5 draft, Brasoban kind of went AWOL. There was little to no discussion of his whereabouts or the status of his recovery throughout spring training and the first few months of the season.
Then, all of a sudden, Brasoban was activated from the disabled list and sent to Double-A San Antonio! It appears that the stem cell/PRP therapy has worked, because the 23-year-old has shown no ill effects of an injury. In his first outing in almost nine months, Brasoban struck out the side against Corpus Christi. With a mid-90s fastball and a plus slider, Brasoban has thrown a total of four scoreless innings thus far for San Antonio, striking out seven while walking two. You would have to guess the Padres will monitor his workload closely. He’s still really young, so if he can stay healthy, he could be a big part of the Padres bullpen for the foreseeable future. (John Horvath)
Jonny Homza, C/INF, AZL
Jonny Homza was drafted in the fifth round by the Padres as an infielder in the 2017 MLB Draft out of Anchorage, Alaska. As a matter of fact, he is only the fourth player from Alaska to be picked in the fifth round or higher and the 13th high school player from Alaska to ever be selected, per the Alaska Dispatch News. At the start of the year, he was ranked by MaxPreps as the best high school baseball player from Alaska. Homza signed quickly after being drafted and is one of a handful of draftees who have already began their professional careers in the Arizona League.
One of the more interesting notes about Homza is where he is going to play. He is listed as a catcher on MiLB.com, and the Padres have reportedly had internal discussions about keeping him there. Prior to draft day, the Padres asked Homza to start working on his catching (according to ADN). They came to a pre-draft agreement on dollars ($250k) if he was still available in the fifth round, and the rest is history.
Homza played most of his high school ball at shortstop, third base, and pitcher. He rarely, if ever, played catcher. The Padres already have Luis Campusano (2nd round) and Blake Hunt (3rd round) catching on their AZL squads, and Homza has joined Hunt as the second catcher on AZL Padres 1. Whatever it may be, A.J. Preller & co. obviously see something in Homza that makes them think the six-foot Alaskan can play behind the dish.
Thus far in the Arizona League, Homza has two hits and three RBI in six at-bats, with four strikeouts. On Monday, he made his professional debut at catcher, catching four innings. He allowed a stolen base and a passed ball. I’m guessing the Padres are hoping Homza’s bat will not be affected by a move to catcher, which is interesting. Regardless, it is sure to be an experiment, and an interesting one at that. (John Horvath)
*Read Marcus from a few weeks back for more hot Homza coverage.
Reggie Lawson, RHP, Single-A Fort Wayne
Taken in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft, Reggie Lawson was just one in what seems like an assembly line of tall, athletic, projectable pitchers the Padres have either drafted or signed out of Latin America.
Lawson stands out for a few reasons. First is he’s already pitching in a full season league at Low-A Fort Wayne. Since his ugly debut (1.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER), Lawson’s been excellent (25 IP, 16 H, 9 ER, 32K), and in his last start had one of the best outings of his career, striking out six in six innings while only allowing a run. According to our friends at MadFriars, Lawson touched 94 with his fastball while showing a plus curveball.
We’ve seen a lot of good performances from last year’s draft, but it’s especially encouraging to see Lawson, a first-round talent who slipped to the second round, acclimating well to pro ball. High school pitchers are extremely volatile, and you never really know what you have until they face pro hitters.
Here’s how Eric Longenhagen, FanGraphs’ lead prospect writer, rates Lawson’s stuff:
|50 / 55||45 / 60||40 / 50||35 / 50||45|
Three pitches projected at least average, two above average, and average command. Also, his full name is Reginald Jefferson Lawson, which is an easy 70-grade name. I’ll take it. (Oscar)
Adrian Morejon, LHP, Low-A Tri-City
The man can throw a strike. Morejon rattled off nearly 75 percent strikes in his outing last night in Spokane. I’m not sure how reliable Low-A Gameday is, but this is what a good Morejon sequence might look like:
Since he’s around the zone so much, though, sometimes he’s going to miss in a bad spot. In that sense, Morejon did allow a couple of long fly outs last night plus a no-doubt homer in the fourth, just after he thought he had strike three on the edge. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed with the early returns. The Cuban lefty went five innings with five strikeouts and no walks last night, and he hasn’t walked a single batter over his first 13 professional innings.
I didn’t catch a mention of Morejon’s fastball velo last night, but David Marver’s investigation from his previous start had him reaching 94-95 (so did last night’s stadium gun, apparently). Good velocity with solid secondaries and plus command is enticing, especially considering he’s only 18. Morejon was allowed to stretch it out to 86 pitches last night, a jump up from 68 in his previous start. I’m not sure that means much, but it could indicate that the Padres might be somewhat aggressive with Morejon’s development. (Sac Bunt Dustin)