71 players and more than 40 members of the development and coaching staff opened the Padres’ Instructional League program last week at the Peoria Sports Complex. The group will spend most of the month doing individualized and structured work at the complex before playing five games in Arizona and finishing with their third annual On Deck Game at Petco Park on Thursday, September 27.
The group, as is typical, is largely made up of players who spent the year in short-season ball, but the organization has also brought a group of nine more advanced players to the complex for some focused work.
Jorge Oña and Edward Olivares are the only position players in that group, joining four righties and three left-handed pitchers who finished the season anywhere from Fort Wayne to El Paso. Hansel Rodriguez will work with the program before he moves across the complex to join the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League.
The Padres’ first eight picks and 14 overall from this year’s draft class are participating, though Owen Miller – like Andres Muñoz, Dauris Valdez and advanced group participant Michel Baez – won’t join until the Missions finish the Texas League Championship Series.
Five players who spent their first professional season in the Dominican Summer League will also report. Outfielder Cristian Heredia and catcher Brandon Valenzuela, who both came stateside last fall, return as 17-year-olds. Carlos Guarate, Mauricio Gonzalez and Miguel Rondon, a trio of right-handed pitchers who all had ERAs under 3.00 this year after signing in 2017, join them.
Though the organization has been aggressive in bringing newly-signed international prospects to their instructional league program over the last two years, the depth of players already stateside has reduced that flow from 14 in 2016 to nine last fall. This year, only shortstop Charlie Aquino made the trip for his first formal taste of the organization’s U.S.-based operations. The Dominican shortstop, one of almost 20 players who got the maximum $300,000 signing bonus the Padres can offer as they wait out their second year of penalty for their enormous 2016 spending spree, is much in the mold of the up-the-middle dynamic athletes the organization has focused on over the last few years.
For some position players like Xavier Edwards and Tucupita Marcano, the program will represent something of a capstone to a stellar year. For players like Jordy Barley or 38th-round pick Michael Suarez, the camp provides instruction staff the opportunity to focus on helping players unlock underlying talent that hasn’t yet translated on the field.
While it used to be common for teams to play up to a few dozen games during the Instructional League, the Padres follow an industry trend in reducing their game action, instead favoring coaching and development work in a more structured way that doesn’t add to pitchers’ in-game innings totals for the year.
Several participants, including prized top prospect Luis Patiño and fourth-rounder Dylan Coleman already reached their competitive pitching limits for the year. Even so, their participation provides opportunities to focus in bullpen and highly-controlled environments.
“It’s a big camp with a lot of players and a lot of things we are trying to accomplish as an organization,” said Padres director of player development Sam Geaney. “There will be quite a variety of things going on.”
The full roster of participants follows. Note that some rehabbing players, including top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, are at the complex and participating in activities but not officially on the Instructional League roster.
|Luarbert Arias||Luis Almanzar|
|Carlos Belen||Charlie Aquino|
|Cole Bellinger||Gabriel Arias|
|Dylan Coleman||Jordy Barley|
|Efrain Contreras||Olivier Basabe|
|J.C. Cosme||Jarryd Dale|
|Jeferson Garcia||Xavier Edwards|
|Carlos Guarate||Sean Guilbe|
|Manny Guzman||Yerri Landinez|
|Henry Henry||Justin Lopez|
|Sam Keating||Carlos Luis|
|Frank Lopez||Tucupita Marcano|
|Michell Miliano||Kelvin Melean|
|Andres Muñoz||Owen Miller|
|Luis Patiño||Eguy Rosario|
|Mauricio Rodriguez||Esteury Ruiz|
|Miguel Rondon||Michael Suarez|
|Nick Thwaits||Tre Carter|
|Dauris Valdez||Jawuan Harris|
|Lefthanded Pitchers||Mason House|
|Joey Cantillo||Grant Little|
|Omar Cruz||Jeisson Rosario|
|Gabriel Morales||Agustin Ruiz|
|Ramon Ernesto Perez||Payton Smith|
|Alexuan Vega||Angel Solarte|
|Noel Vela||Dwanya Williams-Sutton|
|Luis Campusano||Thomas Cosgrove|
|Nick Gatewood||Osvaldo Hernandez|
|Jonny Homza||Reggie Lawson|
|Blake Hunt||Aaron Leasher|
|Alison Quintero||Edward Olivares|
|Brandon Valenzuela||Jorge Oña|
|Gilberto Vizcarra||Hansel Rodriguez|