Two San Diego Padres minor leaguers will participate in the 2018 AFL Fall Stars Game this Saturday, as both Buddy Reed and Miguel Diaz were named to the team representing the Peoria Javelinas.
Every year, teams from throughout the league send some of their best and brightest to challenge each other in a prospect-laden competition called the Arizona Fall League.
Six teams play an abbreviated campaign that starts on October 9th and culminates with the championship game on November 17th.
These six teams are supplied with high levels of talent from all 30 major league organizations for the benefit of seeing how their prized pupils compare and compete amongst their peers from throughout the league.
For the Padres, it is no different. It’s a great chance to see how some of their young talent competes against some of the best competition in the minor leagues, and is usually a good precursor to future success. Specifically during this shortened season, there is a game for the best-performing players called the Fall Stars Game, where the Padres will have two representatives, Buddy Reed and Miguel Diaz.
Both players have had different paths that have led them to this moment. Buddy was a high school multi-sport star who attended school in Rhode Island who turned down an offer by the Texas Rangers in the 13th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. He took his skills to Gainesville, where he starred on the Florida Gators. During his junior year, he was drafted by the Padres in the 2nd round of the June MLB draft.
Always a long-levered, dynamic athlete, he dropped somewhat in the pre-draft rankings with many not seeing the performance that matched the tools. This carried over for the first two seasons in the organization (2016-17), but after an offseason spent in the Australian Baseball League where he worked on his stance being more straight up and balanced to the ball, he exploded onto the prospect scene.
He started the 2018 season at High A Lake Elsinore, and the Cal League didn’t stand a chance. He carried a .921 OPS during his stay and ended up celebrating his first half success with an appearance in the Futures Game in Washington DC during the Major League All-Star break. He, along with Fernando Tatis and Luis Urias, represented the team very well. A 6-foot-4, ultra-athletic outfielder, whose powerful yet graceful strides remind one of Mike Cameron at his peak, is a sight to behold. His first half performance at Lake Elsinore earned him a promotion to Double-A San Antonio where he spent the rest of the season before heading to the AFL. His performance so far in the AFL, if any indication of future success next year, should have Padre fans excited, with him currently hitting .366 and playing his plus defense in center field.
His teammate, and fellow Javelina, is pitcher Miguel Diaz. Originally signed out of the international market during the 2011 signing period by the Milwaukee Brewers, Diaz ended up getting drafted number one overall during the 2016 Rule 5 draft, and then immediately was traded to the San Diego Padres, who proceeded to carry three Rule 5 selections over the course of the entire major league season, with Miguel being one of them.
Diaz has a very powerful right arm and has had moments on the major league scene where he has made a many a major league hitter look baffled. His two seamer against Joc Pederson is still very memorable. Two things still are impediments to his goal of being a major league starter; his command/control and his ability to manage his pitch counts to stay in the game longer than three to four innings at a time. He is being stretched out this offseason with the intent that he shows up to Peoria fighting for a spot in the rotation. The Fall Stars game will be another showcase to show what both of these 23-year-old Padres prospects can bring to the table, either for the major league team or maybe even through trade to another organization.
It is officially Hot Stove season, so let’s get cooking!