PEORIA, Ariz. — The Peoria Sports Complex was much quieter Monday with the big league squad and a dozen minor leaguers decamped to Seattle and fans mostly departed for home. But Padres prospects matched up with the White Sox and staged an extended live BP session to get their many, many arms some much-needed prep time heading into the season.
While most of the squads stayed at Peoria, a Double-A roster headed to Camelback. The big news from the trip was the continued re-emergence of Mason Thompson. The big righty has been the talk of camp, getting easy velocity and mowing down hitters. Sunday, he continued the trend, with texts coming back with reports of 97 with his fastball. After two rough years of health and performance in Fort Wayne, the 21-year-old who the Padres drafted in the third round of 2016 has put himself decidedly in the mix for a rotation spot in Lake Elsinore.
Back at the complex, a handful of big league pitchers including Robbie Erlin got in three innings of work against White Sox minor leaguers. Adam Warren also worked a pair of innings, perhaps an indication of what fans might expect for the Saturday game at Petco Park which conspicuously has no starter lined up.
Among the young guys, righty Sam Keating and lefty Joey Cantillo each worked four innings against a lineup of hitters with full-season experience. Both looked like they belong. Cantillo’s velocity has ticked up slightly this spring, sitting 89-90, showing a few 92s. His calling card is an above average change-up that shows nice separation and tight movement. He reached Fort Wayne last year as an 18-year-old and has an approach and arsenal that look ready for that assignment to open the year.
The live BP session highlighted just how much depth the Padres have in the low minors. Teenage right-handers Michel Miliano, Jeferson Garcia and Alexuan Vega all worked comfortably around 93. Vega, who walked as many as he struck out in limited work after he was selected in the sixth round out of Puerto Rico last summer, showed good life from an easy delivery. Miliano, in his third camp despite just turning 19, showed solid control in his turn through batters, his primary development target this season.
Frank Lopez, who was the youngest player at the complex last year, topped out at 92 in his two innings of work. The 17-year-old Venezuelan added some weight and also improved his English significantly over the winter. With the team opting not to bring any 2018 IFA signees to spring training this spring, Lopez is still younger than all but one player in the complex – lefty countryman Jesus Gonzalez, who threw a bullpen session. Gonzalez turns 18 in June.
Camp has generally been a healthy one, but with more than 200 players at the complex, some down time is inevitable. The biggest news is that Michel Baez hasn’t been on a mound for about 10 days. The big righty was throwing earlier in camp, but has been down with an undisclosed issue. There’s no immediate timeline for him to be ready to compete.
Countryman Osvaldo Hernandez, coming off a stellar season in the Midwest League, has also been slowed this spring. The 20-year-old lefty won’t be ready to break with Elsinore.
Dynamic infielder Jordy Barley injured his leg in a game against the Royals Saturday. Any chance he had of getting out to Fort Wayne this spring are likely on hold.
Big Jordan Guerrero had a small shoulder issue pop up a few weeks ago and he’s currently shut down. He’s already throwing on flat ground again. If all goes well as he shifts back to the mound, it won’t take very long for him to be ready to go out to staff the back of a bullpen.
There’s been good news for several guys who’ve been long-term members of the rehab group. Cullen Dana, drafted post-Tommy John surgery out of Seton Hall last summer, is impressing as he throws in game situations for the first time. Fellow righty Dom DiSabatino, who had TJS a year after the club selected him out of junior college in 2016, is back in the mix this spring.
Kyle Lloyd was returned to active duty from the rehab group at the end of last week. He’ll still need some time to be ready to go, but continues to hang his hopes on a devastating split-fingered fastball.
While the players who went to Mexico City for the weekend got the day off Monday, the staff who took the trip were back at the complex Monday. All were blown away by the facility, the energy of the crowd and the chance to be part of history. The experience was made all the better when players who’d largely not gotten above Single-A totally outplayed a good Diablos Rojos squad.
Lefty Dan Dallas continues to use his fast tempo and heavy sinking fastball to get through outs quickly.
Esteury Ruiz drew walks in his first two plate appearances, and promptly stole second easily both times.