Welcome to the inaugural edition of the MadFriars mailbag! The writing team will be here every other Monday to answer the prospect questions on the forefront of your minds. If you want to ask MadFriars a question, tweet us @madfriars or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
From @ontheMark86: What do you believe Hudson Potts’ ceiling is upon maturity?
Potts has grown significantly since we first saw him in the AZL in 2016 – not surprising given just how young he was at that point. Assuming he continues to add muscle mass, I think we’ve only begun to see what he could be offensively, and this is a guy who was number 11 on our top prospect list this winter. After striking out out at an ugly clip through the first half last year, he settled in and became just the third player in TinCaps history to hit 20 homers in a season. The 20 percent rate so far this year is more in line with what I’d expect you’ll see going forward and the at-bats we’ve seen this year make me think he’ll improve his walk rates going forward. Despite strong surface level numbers defensively last year, there’s a chance he might ultimately have to move off of third base, which would put more pressure on his bat. He certainly has the potential to hit enough that it won’t matter. (David)
We got a pair of questions on Travis Radke from @Zippy_TMS and @tommywright. Tommy noted that his 2017-18 numbers are insane. At age 25, shouldn’t he move quickly? While Roy asked: Travis Radke is off to a great start and sounds like a cerebral pitcher. What are his chances of making it to the MLB one day?
I’ve seen Radke, a 25th-round pick out of Portland in 2014, pitch on multiple occasions this past month. I’d say “cerebral” is about as accurate a descriptor as you could choose for the 6-foot-4 lefty. Not a single pitch in his repertoire stands out, but he just keeps racking up strikeouts, 21 K in 12.1 IP, thanks to strong command and sequencing.
He already had modest success at Low-A as a starter and then hit a wall at Lake Elsinore in 2015 when he allowed 30 earned runs in less than 34 innings, so I’d like to see how he performs at that level as a reliever before projecting his MLB chances. It’ll certainly be an uphill battle for him as reliever without elite velocity, which may not be exposed until the upper minors, but it’s hard to be dismissive of a guy who is dominating the way he has.
Ultimately, I think the most encouraging evaluation on Radke at the moment is that he looks close to 100 percent after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in 2015. (Travis)
From @advancedstast23: What is Jesse Scholtens‘ stuff like? He gets no talk but is off to a very strong start.
The 2016 ninth-rounder got only $1000 to sign out of Wright State. He has a fastball that ranges from 88-94 MPH. Missions manager Phillip Wellman notes that command has “been his reputation – he can hit an ant on the rear end with his fastball.” To that point, Scholtens has issued only six free passes in 23 innings this season, good for a 2.3 BB/9.
At 24 years old, he’s older than a good chunk of the Missions roster, but he’s about the same as the average Texas Leaguer. Like anyone who is on the league leader board for strikeouts (third) and WHIP (second), he attacks the zone and throws lots of strikes. He’s not a power pitcher, and falls more into the mold of current El Paso Chihuahua pitcher Brett Kennedy – able to beat hitters with his pitch mix and ability to command the zone. Like Kennedy, he’s also more of a fly ball pitcher who still keeps the ball in the ball park.
His 10-strikeout performance last Thursday was his third double-digit K outing in the Padres organization; he also accomplished the feat with both Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore last season. Wellman told MadFriars that there are times Scholtens struggles with his changeup, which he has used to set up his breaking pitches, but that he’s working on it. He doesn’t profile as a top of the rotation guy, but, as any Padre fan who has watched more than a few games this season will tell you, there’s room at the top for guys who can throw strikes and miss bats. (Marcus)
Also from @tommywright: Jeisson Rosario with an .877 OPS and a 3:2 BB/K ratio in A ball when most 18-year-olds are high school seniors. Is he a possible top 100 prospect next year?
While most 18-year-olds need significant time to get acclimated to the competition at full-season ball, Rosario continues to display an advanced approach at the plate that belies his age. In addition to the gaudy numbers you mentioned in your question, he is not only avoiding chasing pitches outside the zone, he’s also showing an innate ability to use the whole field. He’s gone to the opposite field with 38 percent of his contact.
Even if he keeps up his torrid pace this season, he may not make the meteoric rise up prospect lists the way Fernando Tatis Jr. did, but there’s reason to believe both he and teammate Esteury Ruiz could open up the 2019 season on the back end of some of those top 100 lists.
Presently, outfielders like Tyler O’Neill, Adam Hasely, and Blake Rutherford sit in those spots, and I think the combination of Rosario’s floor/ceiling, his exciting athleticism, and his 2018 numbers will warrant similar consideration. (Travis)
@playitleo asked: What SP at AAA could come up for a spot start or two this season? (not including Perdomo)
If you’re truly talking about a one-off start for the big league club, the first option would probably be to rely on Robbie Erlin and Matt Strahm, whose rehab assignment must end this week, stretching out from their bullpen roles. If the Padres turn to someone in the minors, Walker Lockett has the inside track in that sort of situation because he’s already on the 40-man roster. The big righty, who turns 24 on Thursday, has bounced back nicely after a back injury derailed his campaign last year.
If the club needs to fill a longer-term need, Brett Kennedy is making a strong case. The 2015 draftee is outperforming his peripherals right now and can’t be expected to keep his ERA down under 2.00 for the long term – especially while his walk rate is sitting where it is. But the 23-year-old will need to be added to the 40-man this winter anyway, so it wouldn’t be shocking if he were to get a head start should the need arise. Chris Huffman isn’t necessarily a guy you watch throw and think, ‘man he’s definitely a future big-leaguer.’ But he just keeps getting batters out and could earn a spot if the team needs. We haven’t heard much about Colin Rea‘s injury status, but he could be an option later in the year. (David)
via email, we got this from Ben: What’s the story with players that were left in Arizona? How many were left and why? Is it like purgatory for baseball? I’m fairly new to tracking minor league baseball and have a lot to learn. I have been tracking Robbie Podorsky for a while and am bummed that he isn’t on a team.
Welcome to the crazy world of watching the minor leagues. I hope you’re enjoying this part of the game! There are about 75 players working in extended spring training right now – not including the 20-plus guys in an injury/rehab group. The players in extended generally have a pair of games against other organizations six days a week and are working with the short-season coaching staffs. Some are seasoned minor-leaguers like Dillon Overton or Colby Blueberg who are between assignments at higher levels of the system. Some are international signees who will make their professional debuts in the AZL like Frank Lopez and Jarryd Dale. Some, like Podorsky, are very much in a holding pattern right now. Because of the big bolus of players who were in short-season last year, a number of 2016 and 2017 draftees who typically would have moved up to full-season ball are still in the complex right now.
In Robbie’s case specifically, I’d expect that he will wind up in Elsinore at some point when a spot opens. A 25th-round pick last year, the speedster makes the best of his tools. He doesn’t strike out, he uses his speed well out of the box, on the basepaths and in the outfield, and he plays with some serious energy. In most systems and in most years, he would have been an obvious choice to open the year on a roster, but it’s hard to argue he should be taking playing time from any of the guys in Fort Wayne. When and if Edward Olivares moves up or there’s another need for the Storm, Podorsky certainly makes sense as the next guy up. (David)
While I think you’d hear a variety of answers if you polled the MadFriars staff, I’m in the camp that still regards Michael Gettys as slightly a better prospect.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Buddy Reed has had sensational and unexpected production in his first taste of the California League, but the numbers and scouting profile suggest it’s unsustainable. His BABIP is currently an absurd .443, which is a good 100 points higher than any previous year, and video/photo evidence confirm that the problems with his swing that I saw in Fort Wayne last year remain.
Michael Gettys has plenty of flaws at the plate and is an incredibly risky prospect, but since he’s actually six months younger than Reed and already playing at a level above him, I’d give the slight edge to him and his superior raw power. Furthermore, Gettys’ 25:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio and his .267 BABIP compared favorably to Reed’s 24:2 ratio and signal that Gettys has been more disciplined at the plate, but not as lucky. In other words, expect a drop in production for Reed and more respectable numbers out of Gettys moving forward. (Travis)
Almanzar is one of the players in extended spring training. The recipient of the highest signing bonus among the traditional July 2 free agents in 2016, Almanzar was aggressively assigned to Tri-City last year, and scuffled to a .230/.299/.299 line while splitting time at all three infield spots. The Dominican native has added weight, and we saw him playing first and third during spring training in addition to a start at shortstop. The decision to keep him back in Arizona was not related to an injury. If he doesn’t join Fort Wayne before the draft, he would likely return to the Northwest League, where at 18, he’d still be one of the youngest players on the circuit again this year. (David)