While minor league baseball is always full of change, it’s especially true as the calendar flips to June. The Dominican Summer League gets underway today. The draft, which will bring another 30 or so players into the organization, begins Monday evening. And extended spring training will shut down at the end of the week as players prepare to report to short-season and rookie ball clubs.
We’ve got names of note for you to know from the two complexes, where over 100 players have been working since full-season clubs got underway.
The DSL club that begins play today features 30 players making their professional debuts. The five returners – a much smaller number than typical – include shortstop Bryan Torres, who got a six-figure bonus in the big 2016 international class and right-handed pitcher Cesar Gonzalez, who signed with the Padres after the Red Sox were forced to relinquish his rights as punishment for violating MLB rules.
Several of the highest-profile signees from the Padres’ current international class will also play in the DSL. As penalty for their spending spree in 2016, the club couldn’t sign any player for more than $300,000 last year. Outfielders Christian Heredia and Junior Perez, infielders Juan Garcia, Emmanuel Guerra, Luis Paez and Yeison Santana, and right-handed pitchers Jesus Cisneros, Carlos Guarate, Edgar Martinez, and Mauricio Rodriguez all got that maximum amount.
Left-handed starter Manuel Partida, a 17-year-old from Mexico, received a $350,000 bonus. Because he split it with his Mexican League club, it is permitted under MLB’s rules.
Perez, who will turn 17 on July 4, is the youngest player on the roster. Jorge Leo, who didn’t sign until he turned 19 last year, and returner Jose Garcia are the only to players who have turned 20.
With the DSL getting underway, several players now travel from San Cristobal to Peoria to join a group of about 70 who are hoping for roster spots in the United States. Another 25 players are in various stages of injury recuperation. Extended Spring Training – which includes a daily mix of games against other organizations and intra-squad workouts – continues through this week.
The group at the Peoria Sports Complex ranges from big league veteran Carter Capps, who continues to work to find a new delivery that complies with MLB’s newest interpretation of their own rules, to Venezuelan righty Frank Lopez, who turned 17 in April.
Nearly a dozen players at the complex have already spent at least some time with a full-season club this year, but either struggled and were sent back or were briefly at an affiliate to fill a roster need. There’s also the unique case of Carlos Belen, who was sent back to the complex just yesterday to begin a conversion to pitching.
Six members of the current international free agent class are debuting professionally stateside rather than in the Dominican. Australian Jarryd Dale and Venezuelan switch-hitter Yerri Landinez, both shortstops, join outfielder Angel Solarte and pitchers Luarbert Arias, Omar Cruz and Lopez.
Veterans of the DSL playing in the U.S. for the first time include infielders Tucupita Marcano, who impressed in spring training, and Carlos Luis, highly regarded catcher Alison Quintero and pitchers Moises Lugo and Martin Carrasco, who led the DSL staff last summer. All will likely debut in the AZL.
Wen-Hua Sung, the Padres’ first amateur signee from Taiwan who has struggled with injuries, has been working in games. He will likely make his professional debut in the coming weeks, perhaps in Tri-City.
Among organization veterans awaiting their 2018 season debuts are Blake Hunt, Mason House, Sam Keating, and Jonny Homza, all early-round draft picks out of high school last year. Fifteen members of last year’s draft class and three undrafted free agents are still at the complex, including high-bonus signees Cole Bellinger and Joey Cantillo.
Even with all the teenagers already out in Single-A, the Padres still have a number of 2016 international free agents with upside awaiting short-season ball. That group includes Jordy Barley, who appeared on several of our individual top 30 prospect lists coming into the year, Michel Miliano and Ramon Perez.
Luis Asuncion is the longest-tenured member of the organization who has spent the entire spring in Peoria. The 21-year-old outfielder will be in the mix to return to Tri-City.
We’ll have plenty of coverage of the players who come in through the draft this week. The first wave of them will join the mix in a minicamp June 11-13. Tri-City will then open their season on the road June 15 and the AZL clubs get underway the following week.