EVT spent some time last year at the San Diego Padres facility in the Dominican Republic. There were several potential prospects to see there. Here is a look at the 2019 squad and how they are playing so far this season.
The San Diego Padres Dominican Summer League squad is off to 8-5 start in 2019.
This positive start follows a season which, for only the third time in 14 Dominican Summer League seasons, they had a winning campaign in which they went 37-35 to finish fourth in the DSL’s Baseball City division. The franchise is clearly moving forward on and showing improvement on the lower levels despite being hampered by penalties which capped their signings at $300,000.
Now free of these penalties, it will be interesting to see how aggressive the team will be to land top talent.
Over this first two weeks of the season, there have been some noteworthy performances for the DSL Padres. On the offensive side, Padres scuffled in the opening week but started to pick it up at the end of the second week. They ranked in the lower tier out of leagues 45 teams with a slash of .241/.347/.329/.677. It is important however to point out that the league doesn’t provide much in the way of power numbers as two of the league’s teams still have not hit a single home run over the first two weeks of play. The DSL Padres only hit two home runs over their first thirteen games of 2019 which accounts for their low slugging %. Despite the lack of power, they were still second in the entire league in strikeouts, so there are some things to be improved upon offensively.
There were however some bright spots on the offensive end.
Albert Fabian (.321/.500/.607/1.107) went 8-for-27 to start the season with five doubles and a home run. He’s also walked nine times. Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote this about Fabian in April. The Dominican teenager is 6 feet, 215 pounds. He is a lefty slugger with a strong, physically mature frame for his age. His calling card is his raw power, a potential plus tool. His game performance has been up and down, but at his best, he has driven the ball out of the park with a short, flat swing. He’s a corner outfielder with some first base risk depending on how much mobility he retains as he ages.
17- year -old Venezuelan Neifi Antunez went 6-for-16 (three walks) to start the season.
Badler posited that Antunez possesses ‘large, strong hands that bode well for his future strength projection, with a line drive, spray approach right now from the right side. He’s a high-motor, gamer-type player with slightly above-average speed”.
First bagger Axcel Peralta hit .300 over the first two weeks but has yet to show the power that evaluators think he will eventually show. He’s 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds and will fill out as he matures.
Last year, the Padres were in the top 10 in most pitching categories despite having one of the youngest pitching staffs (averaging 17.9 years of age) in a league of 44 teams. This years staff is older, averaging 18.6 years of age, but like last year, the pitching has been at the top of the league. With the 4th lowest WHIP in the 45 team ‘19 league and walks allowed with only 37 in 144+ innings, the pitching is a big reason the club has won eight of 13 to start the season
Seventeen pitchers have received work already in the first 21 contests so of course, the sample sizes are that much smaller. With the club ranking high in the league early in most pitching categories a lot of the short stints have been good.
18-year-old Venezuelan Frank Lopez, who the Padres started in the AZL last year at 17 had some command issues in ‘18 but did strike out 35 in 28 innings. He has had two good starts in the opening two weeks with his second start being a dazzling, five frames with no runs allowed and nine strikeouts.
One of the more intriguing hurlers is one of the DSL’s youngest players, Venezuelan righthander Alejandro Lugo who turned 16 last year on Aug. 20. According to Badler, he’s six-f00t tall and weighs 165 pounds. He pitches aggressively with an 87-90 mph fastball and shows feel to spin a curveball. Lugo has not allowed a hit in four innings in 2019 and has whiffed seven batters.
Nick Rios, Jose Garcia, and Jesus Cisneros have also performed well, and EVT will be digging to get more information on them as the season unfolds.
The Padres Arizona League 1 squad has five position players from the 2018 DSL squad on its roster. 18-year-old Emmanuel Guerra is one to look for in 2019.
DSL Padre Emmanuel Guerra has had a torrid second half .293/.491/.488/.979. He has an overall .848 OPS which in the DSL is impressive. Guerra has played the corner infield spots in ‘18. Here he is about to touch home after a long blast over the left center field wall. @EVT_News pic.twitter.com/5FLJIkiE13
— Tex Padre (@texpadres) August 2, 2018
DSL 2018 All-Star Shortstop Yeison Santana was described by Chris Kemp as having a “really young, live body – he has really slick actions at short. I think he can play the position, and he’s offensive minded.”
Vladimir Echeverria, Cristian Heredia, and Junior Perez are the other 2018 DSLers that are on the AZL 1 roster.
— Tex Padre (@texpadres) July 20, 2018
Ten players are up from the DSL Padres and currently in Peoria.
Some of the ones to look for include righty Miguel Rondon, 18, from Venezuela who finished w/a 1.02 WHIP over nine starts & four relief appearances with 2.52 ERA.
Switch-hitting catcher/first baseman Brandon Valenzuela had an excellent second half of 2018 with bat (.264/.398/.363/.761) and will be helped by playing with an experienced and older minor league backstop like Chandler Seagle.
One pitcher who may have an especially bright future is left-hander Manuel Partida, who had a 2.31 ERA and 1.01 WHIP this year.
Partida was signed out of Mexico two years ago for $350,000.
Chris Kemp said in an SD Union-Tribune interview last year that Partida throws a “true four-pitch mix, and he throws strikes. Fastball, slider, curve, and change with the fastball around 87-89 (mph) now. His fastball could settle in at 90-93 by the time he turns 20.”
DSL Padres pitching coach Nelson Cruz said Cuban righty Edgar Martinez, another 17-year-old, is also a top prospect. He already throws 90+ and is effective with both a slider and curve.
Jeffrey grew up in Carlsbad and has been a Padres fan since the late 70’s. He is currently a Social Studies teacher at Newman Smith High School in Carrollton, Texas.