SAN DIEGO — The Padres top young prospects spent Monday and Tuesday in San Diego for the Don Welke On Deck Classic, which has become a tradition to conclude the organization’s instructional league season. For many of the players, it serves as a large piece of motivation to keep working in order to make it back to Petco Park as a big leaguer.
“It’s an awesome experience to come out here with all my teammates,” said CJ Abrams, the Padres’ top draft pick this June. “This is a place I want to be and however much time it takes me [to get here] it’s definitely a place I want to be.”
“It’s my first time in California, [so] I’m pretty excited to be here,” said outfielder Taylor Trammell. “It’s a great opportunity. The guys who set this up — this game and everything like that — they knew what they were doing because I’m pretty motivated to get here.”
Here are some notes from the On Deck Classic:
The Padres were out of the penalty box during this year’s international signing period which allowed them to shell out bonuses greater than $300,000. San Diego took advantage and signed shortstop Reginald Preciado to a $1.3 million bonus. The 16-year-old shortstop hails from Panama and despite his 6-foot-4 frame, he is expected to start at shortstop. Chris Kemp, the Padres’ director of international scouting and minor league field coordinator, had this to say about Preciado’s work in instructs:
“I’ve seen a lot of bat-to-ball. A lot of sixteen-year-olds struggle when they come over here; it’s rare to see a 16-year-old over here. He puts the ball in play. He took a couple of walks in game one and hit a hard ground ball to first. I think the thing that is most impressive about Reginald is just bat-to-ball on some 90-92 mph fastballs.”
Kemp mentioned that Jorge Oña will be ready to go for spring training. The 22-year-old didn’t play after May 3 due to a shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery. In 25 games before the injury, Oña was hitting .348/.417/.539, with five homers in 100 at-bats. He will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft if he is not added to the 40-man roster.
“We are expecting a big year out of Jorge,” said Kemp. “Everybody was buzzing about Oña. We had to take care of some things with the shoulder, but he will be ready in camp.”
Luis Campusano was pulled from the Arizona Fall League after just 13 at-bats due to a hip impingement. While there is no major health concern, the organization felt that keeping the talented backstop in Arizona for 30 days may have been too long and the organization brought him to instructs to give him the chance to finish the season strong.
When asked about outfielder Trammell, Kemp gushed about the newest Padres prospect.
“I love Taylor Trammell,” said Kemp, who managed the Padres squad Tuesday night. “He’s vocal in the dugout. [He] is the oldest guy in camp. We have one Double-A hitter in instructs … Taylor Trammell. He hits the walk-off, next meeting, we have a player’s only meeting and were showing it to our guys and he shows up the next morning. That type of stuff gives him a chance to be a separator.”
Tirso Ornelas struggled through most of the season in Lake Elsinore and eventually returned to the Arizona League, where he worked on refining his swing. The 19-year-old looked much better down the stretch. Kemp commented on what adjustments they were looking for Ornelas to make.
“He’s responded well. We laid a good groundwork. We kind of reset in the AZL. We pushed a lot of guys and Tirso is still a really young kid in that league and we wanted to reset. He went to the AZL with [AZL hitting coach] Jed Morris and we found some things in his swing and we got off to a strong finish. So here, we just want to continue that process. He had two knocks [Monday].”
When asked who stood out during instructs, Kemp mentioned first-round pick Abrams, who hit .400 before finishing the regular season on the injured list with a shoulder injury. Abrams is 100 percent healthy and is facing no restrictions going forward.
“I love what [Abrams] is doing,” said Kemp. He’s a team guy; he speaks more Spanish than I do. It took me five years just to learn a little bit. C.J. can go most of the day and just speak Spanish to all the infielders. It’s fun to watch.”