Peoria, Ariz. – For our final day on the back fields the upper-level squad was on the main secondary field against the Rangers’ while the two lower Padres’ A-ball squads went to Goodyear to play the Indians’ affiliates.
RHP Cal Quantrill got the start and went six innings on very dry windy day. Quantrill’s fastball sat between 89-93 for most of the day touching 95. As in the past, he flashed a plus changeup but was inconsistent with his fastball command and ability to place his curve.
He should be the opening day starter for Double-A San Antonio and as all of us noted in our rankings, right now he needs to be measured on his progress back from Tommy John surgery rather than compared against the wealth of pitching talent the Padres currently have in camp.
As of now, he is on track. The velocity is nearly all the way back, but the command is usually the last to return. My guess is we will see an uptick in his performances in the second half.
OF Nick Torres who has a shot at an outfield slot in Triple-A El Paso after a second half last year with the Missions where he hit .314/.356/.441 looked impressive with two hits, including a three-run home run.
“More than anything it’s just getting at-bats as we are getting ready for the season, this is when it’s really starting to count,” said Torres.
“I got to hit with Johnny Washington [the Padres assistant hitting coach and Torres’ former hitting coach with the Missions] in the off-season and we were just emphasizing being on time and making sure my swing path was good.”
Giant OF Franmil Reyes plate discipline looked good and he hit the ball hard to right field, something he hasn’t been either able or willing to in the past.
Kyle Overstreet, 24, caught the first half of the game and then made several nice plays at third base to finish the game. The former Alabama Crimson Tide member hit .322/.397/.473 between High-A Lake Elsinore and Low-A Fort Wayne in 2017 and saw time at first, third and behind the plate. He should be an important cog with the Missions in 2018.
“Right now I’ve been seeing time at all three positions, but I’m always willing to try something new,” laughed Overstreet who never caught a game until after he was drafted.
“I’m really feeling comfortable behind the plate rep by rep, but it took awhile. At the plate, I’m feeding off of last year and hopefully can have continued sucess.”
Because of the injuries with the big club and some of the injuries in the upper minors, the rosters on El Paso and San Antonio are somewhat fluid. However, the rosters for Lake Elsinore and Fort Wayne, particularly for the position players, are starting to take shape.
The Storm’s outfield was largely set before camp with Buddy Reed and Edward Olivares, who was acquired in the Yangervis Solarte trade with the Blue Jays, rotating between center and right and Jorge Ona in left. Expect Robbie Podorsky, MadFriarsPlayer of the Year for Tri-Cities last year to make the jump to High-A and rotate in.
Olivares has looked particularly impressive in camp on both sides of the ball, showing more power than advertised and if he gets off to a quick start could be in Double-A sooner rather than later.
The middle infield is still an open question, but as David Jay noted yesterday third baseman Hudson Potts has looked very good in camp and could have a monster year. He was overshadowed by players such as Fernando Tatis, Jr., Adrian Morejon, and Michel Baez last year but he is also hit 20 home runs, the third most in franchise history, and had a dominant second half with a .278/325/.512.
In four days of watching him play, we saw him walk more times than he did in the months of April (3) and May (3). Big Brad Zunica will be at first base with former Rule 5 selection Luis Torrens and Marcus Greene, Jr. splitting the catching duties.
The Fort Wayne team will be young and deeply talented. Again the pitching will stand out with MacKenzie Gore, Adrian Morejon, Mason Thompson and Reggie Lawson all expected to spend some of the season there, but the position players are just a notch below.
The outfield is the most athletic that we have ever seen in 15 years of writing about the Padres’ system. Tre Carter, 21,, who made the swing changes he was working on last year with Tri-City, has looked great. Jack Suwinski, 19, should be back for at least the beginning of the season and Jesisson Rosario (.299/.404/.369) and Tirso Ornelas (.276/.399/.408), a pair of ridiculously athletic 18-year olds who also showed plate discipline last year in the AZL.
Rosario and Carter are both plus centerfielders defensively and Ornelas and Suwinski are both good centerfielders and plus corner defenders in the outfield. The left-handed Rosario is nearly ambidextrous and has been known to take infield at second base right-handed. He also looked like he put on some muscle from last year and more power will emerge.
Esteury Ruiz, 19 is a lock at second base and has much more power than one would expect in a slim frame and Gabriel Arias will be the opening shortstop. There should be a rotation between Eugy Rosario, Justin Lopez and Luis Almanzar between third and first base joined in by catcher Luis Campusano, last year’s second-round selection, who has improved behind the plate and is very much a potential offensive force.
It should be a fun summer in the Summit City.