The Padres released 26 minor league players on the heels of an announcement that the organization will pay minor league players $400 a week through August, a week before the typical end of the minor league season. The move comes as clubs across the sport announced similar, extensive release lists. In most years, organizations release groups of players at the end of spring training and around the draft.
The organization released six players at the beginning of April, headlined by infielder Ruddy Giron. For context, the Padres released 33 minor leaguers last year between March and April and 23 during the same period in 2018. With a minor league season in limbo, a shortened draft, and looming reductions in the size of minor league rosters in 2021, the release of 32 players who weren’t considered top prospects in a deep system shouldn’t come as a surprise.
The players released were a mix of minor league free agents brought in to compete for spots on full-season rosters, and a few guys that have spent considerable time in the Padres system. Here is the breakdown of players released.
Of the right-handed pitchers released, Chris Huffman should be the most recognizable name. Huffman, 27, was drafted in the 14th round out of James Madison in 2014. He was a California League All-Star in 2016 and made MILB.com’s Padres organization All-Star team in 2017, pitching to a 3.18 ERA in 144 innings between three levels. Huffman reached Triple-A El Paso in 2018, but missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He had been one of eight active players remaining in the organization from before A.J. Preller became the club’s General Manager.
Colletti, 24, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017, out of Ohio University. Colletti has pitched at every level in the Padres’ system and struck out 130 batters in 105 career innings. Last season, Coletti had a 5.10 ERA while seeing action for all four full-season teams, in addition to 16 games with short-season Tri-City.
Rogers, 27, was drafted in the 37th round in 2015 out of Oklahoma. Primarily a reliever, Rogers pitched in 51 games last season, which included 40 at Double-A Amarillo. He appeared in 174 games during his time in the Padres’ system.
Notes: Fallon, 23, was the Padres’ 40th-rounder from last year. He is the only 40th-round pick to sign with the Padres since A.J. Preller became the general manager. The former Western Oregon hurler made 14 appearances in the Arizona League last summer. … RHP Luis Eusebio was signed as an international free agent in December of 2016 and hasn’t pitched above the Arizona League. Urosa, 19, made three appearances for the DSL Padres last year.
Dallas, 22, was drafted out of Canisius High in Buffalo, New York, in the 7th round in 2016 and signed for an over-slot bonus of $250,000. Dallas pitched in 31 games last year, most of which came with Tri-City. The southpaw has had some success in the lower levels of the organization, earning a spot on the Northwest League All-Star team the past two seasons, but struggled to find footing in the full-season levels. He has struck out 145 batters in 105 professional innings.
Clarkin, 25, signed as a minor league free agent in February. A San Diego native, he was drafted 33rd overall in 2015 out of Madison High by the New York Yankees. He spent part of last season with the Cubs organization, pitching in 10 games for Double-A Tennessee.
Notes: Mortensen, 19, was a 26th-rounder in 2018 out of high school in Davis, California. The organization paid him $125,000 to forgo attending San Jose State. He appeared in 11 games over the past two seasons in the Arizona League, pitching to a 4.74 ERA in 24.2 innings. … Rios, 19, pitched the last two season for the DSL Padres, compiling a 1.65 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 32.2 innings, all in relief. … Hernandez, 29, signed in the off-season as a minor league free agent. A 10th-rounder back in 2009, he appeared in 19 games at three levels for the Indians organization last season. He has pitched 10 seasons in the minors, pitching just 11 games above A-ball. … Regnault, 31, also signed in the off-season after spending last year pitching for Hiroshima in the Japan Central League. He pitched to a 3.34 ERA in 52 games out of the bullpen in Japan’s top league. He spent the previous five seasons in the Mets organization.
Kennedy, 26, was the Padres’ 30th-round selection in 2015, out of Cal State Fullerton. An excellent defensive catcher lauded for his ability to lead pitching staffs, Kennedy produced just a .180/.233/.269 slash-line in nearly 800 plate appearances in his career in the system.
The Padres selected Gatewood, 22, in the 11th round in 2018, out of Georgia State University. The catcher/first baseman had a solid pro debut, hitting .283/.323/.443 with the AZL squad in 2018. He made the Fort Wayne roster out of spring training but struggled mightily before being sent back to extended spring training. He spent the rest of the summer in Tri-City, where he produced a .255/.326/.399 batting line that was slightly above league average.
Notes: Valerio, 29, signed in the off-season as a minor league free agent and was invited to big league camp this spring. The former Indians farmhand was signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2010 and spent the last five seasons playing in independent leagues, including stints with Fargo in the American Association and Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League. … Hubbard, 25, also signed as a free agent in the off-season. He spent last year with the Sonoma Stompers of the Pacific Association and Lake Erie of the Frontier League — his first year as a professional. He played outfield last season but was listed as a catcher in camp.
Infielders: Ray Patrick Didder, Joey Fernando, Dom DeMarco, Jason Pineda
Jason Pineda was the only player in this group who played an official game in the Padres organization. The 20-year-old infielder was drafted in the 16th round in 2017, out of high school in the Bronx, New York. The organization gave him $125,000 to bypass his commitment to the University of Michigan. Pineda posted a solid 11.8% walk rate in his three professional seasons but his inability to make consistent contact mitigated his eye at the plate. He struck out in 33% of his plate appearances, never playing above short-season Tri-City.
Didder, 25, signed in the off-season as a minor league free agent. He spent the last six years in the Atlanta Braves organization, advancing as high as Double-A. Didder hasn’t hit much, evidenced by his .243/.353/.334 career batting line, but he offers speed and versatility.
Notes: Infielder Joey Fernando signed with the Padres in February, after playing collegiately at Bethune-Cookman and was first-team all-conference in 2019. He has yet to make his professional debut. … Like Fernando, infielder Dom DeMarco signed with the organization in February, after playing his college ball at Colorado Mesa. He also has not played in a professional game.
Carter, 23, was selected in the 11th round in 2016, out of high school in Tennessee. The organization signed him for $100,000, prying him away from his commitment to the University of Tennessee. While Carter displayed elite athleticism throughout his pro career, he struggled to find his footing offensively. Carter saw some time in Fort Wayne in 2018 and hit just .192/.310/.212 in 31 games. He spent last year in Tri-City, hitting .208/.279/.321 with a pair of homers.
House, 21, was the Padres’ surprise third-round selection and received the full-slot bonus of $732,000 to bypass a commitment to Oklahoma State. The outfielder had an impressive pro debut, hitting .294/.354/.463 and was my selection for the Padres’ Arizona League Player of the Year. While the numbers were impressive that summer, there was one glaring concern: strikeouts. House struck out in 37% of his plate appearances in his first season and never could make the adjustment to pro pitching. Last year in Tri-City, House hit just .147/.229/.240 with a 51% K-rate. In a deep and talented farm system, House just simply ran of time to develop.
Notes: Yordi Francisco signed with the organization in December of 2015 and made his pro debut with the DSL Padres. Francisco, 23, posted a roughly league-average slash-line of .251/.324/.426 last year in the Arizona League. … Juan Garcia, 19, signed as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in January of 2018. The infielder/outfielder has struggled with the bat and posted just a .459 OPS between the DSL and AZL. … Eddyson Moreno, 18, signed for $100,000 as part of the Padres’ July 2nd group in 2018. He made his pro debut in the DSL last summer and hit .181/.275/.305 with a pair of homers. … Payton Smith, 20, signed with the Padres out of high school in South Carolina and received a $125,000 bonus to forgo eligibility at Florence-Darlington Tech. At 6-foot-5, and 225 pounds, Smith flashed some power in batting practice but never played above the Arizona League. Last summer he hit .245/.332/.368 with three homers in 32 games.