Padres pitching prospect Frank Lopez

Frank Lopez is one of the youngest players in the AZL (MadFriars/David Jay)

The Padres will once again field two teams when the Arizona League gets underway Tuesday. The club announced their opening day rosters for both squads Monday.

The talent depth is not quite as impressive as when the organization aggressively brought more than a dozen members of their 2016 international free agent class to the complex to begin their professional careers. However, both squads feature plenty of interesting prospects. Additional members of the 2018 draft class, including top pick Ryan Weathers, will be added to the clubs as they sign in the coming weeks.

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The AZL-1 club will be especially strong up the middle. Second-rounder Xavier Edwards will split time at shortstop and around the dirt with seventeen-year-olds Jarryd Dale and Yerri Landinez, who headlined the team’s 2017 international class out of Australia and Venezuela.  They’ll be joined on the dirt by Carlos Luis and Luis Guzman, who played together in the Dominican last summer, and newly-drafted Lee Solomon.

Jawuan Harris, the two-sport athlete the Padres drafted out of Rutgers in the seventh round this month, will see the bulk of the action in center as the rosters are currently configured. He’ll be flanked by 2016 international free agent Augustin Ruiz and Tyler Benson, who is coming back from injury.  Big Jaquez Williams, drafted out of high school for his raw power in 2016, is listed as an outfielder after taking fly balls this spring for the first time, but could see time at first base as well.

The pitching staff includes a mix of AZL alum and hurlers making their professional or stateside debuts. Venezuelan righty Frank Lopez, who turned 17 in April is the youngest of the group. He is joined by left-hander Omar Cruz and righty Luarbert Arias from the most recent international free-agent group. Sixth-rounder Alexuan Vega is the highest-profile of 2018 draftees on the staff. Moises Lugo and Martin Carrasco, who teamed up to front the DSL rotation last summer, will work together on the staff this year as well. Carlos Belen, converting to the mound in his fifth full season stateside, and giant righty Starlin Cordero will add serious velocity from the bullpen.

Four catchers will share responsibilities for managing the staff, including 11th-rounder Nick Gatewood and day three pick Rainier Aguilar. They’ll split duties with Michael Cantu, signed as an undrafted free agent late last year and Mexicali native Gilberto Vizcarra.

That squad will work under manager Vinny Lopez, who won the organization’s Jack Krol award for instruction staff as a hitting coach in the AZL last summer, his first in the system.  One-time Padres reliever Leo Rosales will serve as a pitching coach.

Aaron Levin will helm the AZL-2 club after spending last year managing the Dominican club. He’ll be joined by a handful of guys who played for him last year, including right-handers Jeferson Garcia, Manny Guzman, Luis Eusebio and lefty Gabriel Morales, who should all see heavy workloads on the mound. They’ll be joined by AZL returners Michel Miliano, Joey Cantillo and Noel Vela, who each turned 18 in December. Eight-year big league vet John Halama will serve as pitching coach in his first year with the club.

Alison Quintero, a high profile member of the 2016 international class who was waylaid by injuries last year, Jonny Homza and Luis Roman will catch the staff.

Jordy Barley and Tucupita Marcano, both signed on July 2, 2016, will both get plenty of attention on the infield, which they’ll share with Reinaldo Ilarraza, and corner bats Jason Pineda and Elvis Sabala. Sabala, 20, has been in the organization since 2015, but is making his first appearance stateside.

Angel Solarte, who turned 17 weeks after he arrived in Peoria for spring training this year, headlines the outfield. One of the players who received the team’s max available $300,000 signing bonus last July, the Venezuelan will rival Barley for the best athleticism on the roster. He’ll share the outfield grass with DSL alumni Carlos Batista and Yordi Francisco as well as one-time Oregon State wide receiver Hunter Jarmon.

MadFriars will have on-site coverage for subscribers from Peoria starting Thursday evening and again later this summer.

Posted by David Jay

David has written for MadFriars since 2005, has published articles in Baseball America, written a monthly column for FoxSports San Diego and appeared on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He may be best known on the island of Guam for his photos of Trae Santos that appeared in the Pacific Daily News.

3 Comments

  1. Looks like the roster pages on MiLB.com are listing a couple of the names here with different spellings: Jefferson Garcia and Michell Miliano. BRef still has them the way you’ve spelled them. Any thoughts on that?

    Reply

  2. Jeferson is the way the team lists him on all documents.
    Interestingly, they used to only have on L on Michell, but now that you asked, I just went back and note that the last document I got from the club has it as Michell. I’ll cut out the middleman and ask them both in person this weekend.

    Reply

  3. Confirmed with Garcia himself it’s one F. Still haven’t gotten to Miliano.

    Reply

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