Blake Hunt is one of the top prospects in Tri-City. (Photo: Mike Wilson)

Three days in Tri-City and two in Lake Elsinore. Here are some quick thoughts.

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Tri-City Dust Devils

The highlight of the trip was watching next year’s double-play combination for Fort Wayne, shortstop Xavier Edwards and second baseman Tucupita Marcano who were called up to the Dust Devils on August 9.

Edwards, the Padres’ second overall pick from South Florida who signed for more than $700,000 over slot, was one of the more advanced high school players in the draft.  Despite injuring his right wrist, he still played well above the competition level and earned a rare promotion out of the AZL in his draft year. He has plus speed and quickness, and the switch-hitter – although he was only batting from the left side on this trip because of a lingering wrist injury – has a very good idea of what he is doing at the plate and should be the leadoff hitter and everyday shortstop for the TinCaps in 2019. Defensively, he has a good, but not great, arm and is a very active shortstop continually charging the ball.

Xavier Edwards on Star Wars Night at Gesa Stadium. (Photo: Judy Simpson)

Tucupita Marcano has received a lot of well-deserved attention for his bat, but his defense was nearly as impressive.  Marcano and Edwards put together a few slick double-plays during the three days that I was there despite playing on different Padres’ AZL teams. With the bat – and I know the comparison is going to elicit some groans – he might be a left-handed hitting version of Luis Urias.  Marcano is another player who seemingly can put the barrel of the bat on nearly everything, but doesn’t show much power yet.

Tucupita Marcano is impressive at the plate and in the field. (Photo Mike Wilson)

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Two of the more high-profile prospects who have been in Pasco all summer are center fielder Grant Little and catcher Blake Hunt.  Little put together a spectacular season for Texas Tech as a sophomore-eligible player hitting .370/.462/.642.  There was some talk that the Padres might try him in the infield, but there might be more opportunities for him in center where his speed will play.

Grant Little is one of the bats the Padres are counting on for the future. (Photo: Mike Wilson)

As Little Little said in our interview with him, he needs to get stronger because his manager believes that, with his quick hands, more power is there.  Little will also be in the mix for the TinCaps next year and should be the everyday center fielder.

Hunt was one of two catchers the Padres took back-to-back in the 2016 draft.  A shoulder injury put him a little behind Luis Campusano, who was the everyday catcher for Fort Wayne this summer.  Hunt, at six-foot-four, is a big lean catcher with power potential and a big arm behind the plate.

Hunt started off fast offensively, but after catching 43 out of 50 games, may be wearing down a little. But after some mid-year doldrums, he’s been back on a bit of a hot streak as of late.  As a designated hitter he is hitting .292/.379/.333 in 27 plate appearances.  In 54 plate appearances in June, he hit .333/.491/.333.

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The pitching at Tri-City was more “pitchability” than the top pitching prospects we have seen the past few years.  Right-handed pitcher Angel Acevedo has been the best on the staff, and on Saturday night he showed an excellent ability to mix his pitches. Acevedo was signed out of Venezuela and is one of the seemingly endless supply of quality international players that were part of the 2016 J2 class.

The bullpen has gotten a little more notice, and they have been led by righty Jordan Guerrero, who is another reliever in the Padres’ system that can hit a 100 mph on a regular basis, and lefty Dan Dallas, who was promoted a few days after I left.  Dallas, who was drafted in the seventh round in 2016, has turned it around after a lost 2017 campaign.  As Dallas noted in his interview with David Jay, the lefty relies on disrupting hitter’s timing with his fastball/curve combination and profiles more as a long reliever than a fire-balling closer.  Guerrero, who is six-foot-five and listed at 296 pounds, has not given up a run in 19 innings with the Dust Devils and has a 26:7 strikeout-to-base-on balls ratio.

Right-hander Joe Galindo struggled with some command issues early in the year but seems to have regained his form with the Dust Devils.  Galindo has a 1.70 ERA with Tri-City and 27 strikeouts against ten walks in 21.1 innings.  Galindo has a fastball that can touch 96 and a good slider.  He should be back on track next spring.

Lake Elsinore Storm

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On August 9, the Padres promoted third baseman Hudson Potts to Double-A San Antonio at only 19 after he put up some strong but not standout numbers with the Storm.  That same day they also sent right-handed pitcher Michel Baez up to the Missions and put lefty Adrian Morejon on the disabled list with hip soreness.

There were a few quality prospects still at the Diamond, most notably lefty Nick Margevicius, who continues to show a solid mix of a four-seam fastball, curve, and changeup.  He will sit in the low 90s, but he’s confident in – and usually demonstrates – an ability to throw any pitch at any time in the count. When looking at his numbers, keep in mind they are somewhat inflated due to pitching in some of the extreme hitter-friendly parks of the Cal League.  When he’s thrown in the relatively neutral park of Lake Elsinore, he’s been very good.

Padres prospect Nick Margevicius pitches for Lake Elsinore Storm

Nick Margevicius has a 0.72 ERA at The Diamond in 25 innings. (Photo: Cherished Memories)

Luis Torrens, one of the three Rule 5 picks San Diego carried on the big league roster last year, was sent down to Lake Elsinore to make sure he received everyday playing time. This year, he has more plate appearances than two injury-plagued seasons of 2015 and 2016, and his 2017 cameo in the big leagues, combined. In our interview with his manager Edwin Rodriguez, Rodriguez stressed that the most significant goal this year was to get him out there as much as they could and let the offense take care of itself.  Torres has put up a decent slash line of .283/.319/.414 – nearly league average – but with Francisco Mejia and Austin Allen above him, and Campusano and Hunt below, there will be some competition.

Edward Olivares, who came over in the Yangervis Solarte trade with Toronto, has performed better in the second half after an unremarkable first half and a rough end-of-year appearance at High-A for Toronto last year.  As Rodriguez noted, he still needs to put on some more weight to fully show the type of player that he is. Although Olivares is Rule 5 eligible this winter, it’s unlikely he will be added to the 40-man because it is difficult to see a big league team being able to carry him on the roster for the full year.

Posted by John Conniff

John grew up in Poway and has written for MadFriars since 2004. He has written articles for Baseball America, FoxSports San Diego, the El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Amarillo Globe-News, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and Pacific Daily News in addition to appearing on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He can also break down the best places to eat for all five of the affiliates. There is no best place to eat in Peoria, Arizona.

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