PEORIA, Ariz.– After two days of games, it was already time for a day off.  The Padres’ minor leaguers had a camp day, consisting of meetings, light drills, and an intrasquad game.  While most camp days are very laid back, there was a definite buzz in the air as former Top 50 MLB prospect, RHP Anderson Espinoza saw his first live game action in over a year.  He took the mound for “A Ball” team against the “High-A” team.

Here are observations from his outing as well as other news and notes from the day.

  • Espinoza was able to get two quick outs before giving up a long home run to Justin Lopez. Espinoza lost command after that but was eventually able to retire the side.
  • He threw mostly fastballs sitting 92-93, did touch 95. By my count, he threw one split with good movement at 89, a change at 80 and a curve at 71.
  • All pitches had good movement, but the command was not where he wanted it to. As Cal Quantrill can attest, the command is the last thing to come back.  In the case of Espinoza, he was routinely catching too much of the plate.  Remember, “control” is the ability to throw strikes, “command” is the ability to throw strikes in specific areas of the plate.
  • Mechanically, multiple scouts and Padres brass noted that he looked nearly identical to his motion before the surgery.
  • Look for Espinoza to continue to work on his control over the next few weeks, before ramping up his innings in extended in April. If everything goes right, look for him in Lake Elsinore sometime in May.
  • A game was being played with the young middle infielders to see who had the best first step and reaction time. While there were many challengers, the clear winner was Gabriel Arias who even had coach Tony Tarasco in awe after jumping three feet in the air to snag a liner.
  • In a lineup that featured Hudson Potts, Alex Dickerson, Jorge Ona, and Austin Allen the first run of the game came on a monster home run by little Matthew Batten. Batten, who has three home runs in 127 games, made his own case loud and clear to be in contention for starting infield slot in Double-A Amarillo.
  • The reason why the aforementioned players didn’t score is that they faced non-roster invitee Fernando Rodriguez. The 35-year-old who spent last year with Boston struck out Dickerson and got Potts and Allen to roll over on grounders.  While a non-prospect at 35, don’t be surprised if he has the commuter role of going back and forth between Triple-A that Padres’ reliever Phil Maton had last year.

  • Speaking of long home runs, Justin Lopez crushed a ball against Espinoza. The 18-year-old is listed as six-foot-two, 185-pounds but has easily put on 15 pounds of muscle over the offseason.  He had a few other line drives in the game and has looked great at shortstop.  He has played with Xavier Edwards each of the last two games, and both times Lopez was at short with Edwards or Tucupita Marcano at second base.  There is a good possibility all three could be interchangeable at second, third and shortstop this year in Fort Wayne.
  • A different Lopez, Diomar Lopez threw two innings. His fastball was comfortably sitting in the mid 90’s with movement and was difficult for hitters to catch up to.  However, his offspeed stuff was erratic, and when it did find the plate, it was hit, hard.  Lopez had 53 strikeouts in 41.2 innings last year but was hit hard in Lake Elsinore.  He is another pitcher that if he can develop a second pitch, can be a very valuable bullpen piece.
  • Tirso Ornelas was putting on a clinic in BP. He laid down a perfect bunt (ended right on the line), before hitting a home run with his next swing.  Similar to Justin Lopez, Ornelas, who turned 19 last week, looks to have added a considerable amount of muscle in the off-season.
  • T.J. Weir threw two innings in the advanced game and cruised. Between his stuff, and the fact he was averaging seven seconds per pitch, the hitters struggled to get any sort of timing against him.
  • Mason Fox who was drafted as a center fielder, but pitched in the AZL, made his first appearance of the year. He had a free and easy motion hitting 95 on the gun.  Fox struck out 28 in 21 innings last year in the AZL and could be a sleeper in Fort Wayne.
  • Dan Dallas made his first appearance of the spring and had a quick effortless 1,2,3 inning. He had only nine innings in Fort Wayne last year but has been working out and appeared in the game with the guys who should be ticketed for Lake Elsinore.

Lastly, it is almost a bad thing having an organization this talented.  So much attention is paid to guys like Potts, Adrian Morejon, Allen, Ornelas, and others, that we don’t pay much attention to some of the newer guys.  With intrasquad games going on, we got our first look at a few DSL guys.

An example is  Miguel Rondon, who would be a high school senior if he was in the states.  Rondon who had a 2.52 ERA last year in the DSL, threw two innings today with great movement with all his pitches, collecting a strikeout and four grounders in the two innings; one was a double play.  While he topped out at 91 mph, he has a “projectable frame” at five-foot-eleven, 150-pounds, and he has the potential to add three or four more mph on his fastball.

Tomorrow is our final day in Peoria.  With both the Padres and Mariners out, the prospects will take over the main field for a Prospect Showcase.

Posted by Ben Davey

Writer for MadFriars since 2011. San Diego raised. Grossmont alum. Die hard SD and sports fan. Currently keeping my day job as an AP Chemistry Teacher.


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