If his name sounds at all familiar, it’s because he was one of the honorable mentions in the Padres’ 2017 international class. Signed out of Mexico for $115,000, the kid has been a real treat for fans. As a starter for the DSL Padres, Carrasco has pitched to a 2.64 ERA and 3.15 FIP.
While he has been productive at preventing runs, his stuff is very underwhelming at present. This is evidenced by the fact that he has a meager 4.55 K/9 rate. There is hope though, as Carrasco is still 17 and has yet to fully grow. His current stature of six feet and 165 pounds will not be the end product. As a result, his velocity will obviously tick up in the coming years and allow him to make more batters look foolish. If there isn’t much growth in the young Mexican’s velocity, then there is his elite walk rate to consider.
In 13 games started and 61.1 innings pitched so far, the new Padre has only given up seven free passes. This inability to K the opposition but command the ball well is comparable to successful pitchers in the majors. Look at SD’s own Clayton Richard, who thrives as a ground-ball specialist and valuable workhorse, for an example. Remember, however, that Carrasco still has plenty of time to improve his strikeout rate.
An 18-year-old Dominican in his first summer of professional baseball, Moises Lugo is very comparable to Carrasco. Like the previously described player, Lugo doesn’t strike out many batters as he has only shut down hitters 54 times in 64 innings pitched. Yet, he too has shown a great ability to prevent runs and limit the amount of walks he has yielded.
During his 13 games started, the young pitcher has accumulated an outstanding 1.97 ERA as well as a neat BB/9 rate of 2.39. While he is more developed than Carrasco at this point, continue to watch out for the 6’1″, 185 lb. youngster. His primary stats and peripheral numbers, including a 2.72 FIP, suggest that Lugo could succeed in the Arizona League in 2018. But the newly signed, March 2017, signee must develop his arsenal and velocity more to be considered a decent prospect in the near future.
Arguably the most productive offensive player for the DSL Padres, Danny Tovar has had a successful two years with the club. While an integral part of the team, this 18-year-old Venezuelan has shown a solid approach at the plate. Whereas his 21.5% K rate could certainly be improved on in the next few years, an excellent 15.2% BB clip is superb for such a young player. He even ended the 2017 season with an OBP. of .383. This skill will allow him to get on base even amidst struggles with contact.
Additionally, his ability to play a good center field can not be overlooked. Usually, teams do not give much thought to who plays in center for them in the lower minors. After all, they’re more than likely to switch off the position while climbing the organizational ladder. However, Tovar has proven that he is equipped to handle one of the most important positions for the long-term. As a result, his defensive game should not be understated as anyone who can at least stick up the middle has an edge in transcending up a club’s minor leagues.
Lastly, Tovar has indicated a good hitting tool. Power may never be his strongest asset as three is all he got so far in his career games, but his career slash line of .274/.393/.767 speaks volumes to Tovar’s patience and keen eye. If he can continue such solid work, Tovar may very well be wearing a Padres uniform. This is so because teams always need a contact-oriented player to set the stage for later bashers. Again, one can draw parallels between Tovar’s tools and more highly regarded players in the Padres’ organization. From Luis Urias to Carlos Asuaje, the ability to hit for a high average and a knack for getting on-base has been crucial to the team’s successes. Without such scrappy players, mighty run producers would not be able to post as gaudy RBI totals nor be fine carrying low averages. Also, just because a player relies more on contact than speed or power does not mean that they can’t be above-average offensive stars. Take Urias for example, as he, for most of this season, has compiled a 130+ OPS while slightly discouraging management that he’ll ever hit with decent power. Overall, there will always be a place on SD’s roster for a teammate who knows how to hit, and Tovar’s could one day take that roster spot.
In summation, while most fans prefer tracking the progress of higher-level prospects, the DSL league still holds promise. 2017 has not been the most kind for the DSL Padres, but there are still some players who can be contributors. Above, I described two starting pitchers who can continue preventing runs as they go farther in baseball and I illustrated the contact ability of one Danny Tovar. All three international signees have the capacity to continue climbing the Padres’ ranks, and may be in line for breakout seasons next year as they continue developing. The lack of an Eguy Rosario has made 2017 look boring for the DSL Padres, but there are some underrated ballers. All you have to do is examine the upside of such youngsters. Overall, the lowest-level minor leaguers should not be forgotten as they may one day provide plus value for San Diego.