Spring training is less than two weeks away. Man it feels good just to say that. Pitchers and catchers will report in a few days and it is exciting times for Padres fans as the first wave of young talent is hitting the shores of San Diego in the form of Hunter Renfore, Manny Margot, Carlos Asuaje and Austin Hedges. The next wave to follow most likely is the young pitchers that will start the season in Lake Elsinore. Anderson Espinoza, Cal Quantrill, Jacob Nix and Eric Lauer all should pass through the Storm’s rotation at some point next year. And one promising pitcher that has an outside chance of joining them is a seventeen year old left hander from Cuba, Adrian Morejon. Morejon, a 6’1” 195 pound youngster that would be in his senior year of high school if he pitched in the States, signed last summer for a Padres International bonus record of $11,000,000.
* Gentle reminder to all baseball dads to force your son to pitch southpaw.
Now, I am not advocating the Padres rush Morejon to high A ball. I am merely postulating that if things fall the way some scouts believe they could, you may see an 18 year old backfill one of the college draftees of the ’16 crop as at least one maybe two move up to AA ball during the season.
When the Padres first signed Morejon he was relatively unknown to most of the publications that closely follow prospects. He was the Fernando Tatis Junior of left handed pitchers, if you will. Ben Badler of Baseball America had this to say about him after the Padres sent him to their Dominican facility:
Since arriving in the Dominican Republic, Morejon has seen his fastball increase to sit in the low-90s and touch 95 mph, showing good feel for both his curveball and changeup, with a chance for both offspeed pitches to develop into above-average offerings. He technically throws two different types of changeups, one of which is a knuckle-change with late diving action, while the other is a more traditional changeup with sink and run. It’s a repertoire to profile as a starter with a smooth delivery and clean arm action.
That is a promising report, and once scouts began to see him in person in the D.R., the praises really began to flow. I read the report from 2080 Baseball and had to blink several times at my computer screen. I just couldn’t believe the Padres signed such a potentially huge talent last summer. This paragraph by 2080 Baseball (David DeFreitas and Nick J. Faleris) should be accompanied with a Camel Unfiltered:
Overall, Morejon’s mechanics work for him, with the southpaw showing limited effort throughout and generally staying consistent in his arm action despite some length and the backside. He doesn’t have a typical workhorse frame, but the body is well constructed with good strength in the lower half and solid athleticism and flexibility. It’s unclear where Morejon will begin his Stateside work, but it’s possible the Padres view him as advanced enough to tackle the Midwest League next summer. He’ll play all of 2018 at the age of 18, giving San Diego some cushion to break him into life in the States at a pace that best suits him. This combination of stuff and feel isn’t commonplace for a teenage arm, and while there is obvious risk associated with a three- or four-year developmental arc there’s good cause to be optimistic that Morejon can reach his lofty upside.
Lofty Upside is the name of my new garage band. And we fucking rock. The thought of the Padres going Espinoza and Morejon 1-2 in a few years is just outrageous. I’m not trying to get too far ahead of myself, but man, this is uncharted territory for Padres fans. The Padres really have some talent. High ceilings and fairly high floors, can you imagine that? AJ Preller is blowing Sandy Alderson’s number 1 rated farm of a few years ago away. Like Manny Margot blew the Padres away last spring. Did I do that right Dennis Lin? Speaking of Dennis, he also had glowing words to report in the San Diego Union Tribune last summer:
Morejon will participate in instructional league in Arizona this September, but he won’t make his professional debut until next year. Some Padres officials believe he is advanced enough to debut with High Single-A Lake Elsinore. Morejon will turn 18 in February.
I think there’s room to add another 25 pounds and grow another inch, inch-and-a-half,” Padres International Scouting Direct Chris Kemp said. “We got a high school junior, a guy theoretically going into senior year in high school. I do think there’s quite a bit of projectability left as far as a physical standpoint.” So Chris Kemp is pretty high on him too. Of course, when you spend $22M (with the MLB penalty for going over allotment) on a kid, you better be Hunter S. Thompson high on him.
I can’t wait to see him get in the Texas League. We will drive from Houston to San Antone and Corpus Christie or Round Rock all summer long once he reaches the Missions organization. Hopefully I’ll catch up with Padres Public contributor Marcus at one of the parks. We will be the Padres fans blinking at the field several times. Making sure we really are seeing what the Padres have coming.