The Arizona Fal League starts play today, and the San Diego Padres have a total of seven prospects in the league.
Last year, players like Buddy Reed and Austin Allen were able to boost their prospect stock when they partook in the Arizona Fall League, Now, six more players will represent San Diego as they don Peoria Javelinas jerseys in Arizona.
Three-position players, including the California League Co-MVP, and four pitchers will be traveling to Arizona to help Peoria defend their AFL Championship.
Perhaps the biggest name for the Padres being sent is catcher Luis Campusano, who helped lead the Storm to the California League playoffs. The eighth-ranked prospect in the Padres system by MLB Pipeline, the backstop had a breakout campaign with Lake Elsinore, compiling an impressive .325/.396/.509 batting line with 15 home runs and 87 RBIs.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of his game was his newfound plate discipline. Campusano dropped his strikeout rate from 15.1% in 2018 to 11.7% in 2019 while his walk rate jumped to 10.7% with the Storm after he compiled a 6.7% with Fort Wayne. The improved plate discipline has now put Campusano firmly into the Padres’ plans, and a good showing in Arizona will accelerate his path to the Majors.
Following him from Lake Elsinore are the three pitchers the San Diego front brass want to see more from. Osvaldo Hernandez might be the most well known of the trio, and he is being sent to Arizona to make up for lost time due to his injury. In an injury-shortened season, Hernandez pitched to a 3.90 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP in 32.1 innings on the mound. He only pitched three innings at most in a single game, so he will look to increase his workload.
Reiss Knehr had his struggles with Lake Elsinore and will be sent to Arizona to work on his stuff. Knehr struggled to a 5.43 ERA and a 1.49 ERA in 66.1 innings. However, the 20th-round pick in 2018 did compile an impressive 11.26 K/9 and 3.80 BB/9 while starting 12 of the 17 total games he appeared in.
Elliot Ashbeck, on the other hand, flourished in his time with Lake Elsinore. The 25-year-old served as a more-than-reliable relief pitcher for the Storm, pitching to a 2.95 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in 103.2 innings. Ashbeck served as a sort of Swiss Army Knife for the Storm as he made eight starts and had four holds while racking up a 24.2% strikeout rate against a 5.7% walk rate. He was a little old for High-A, but he has the potential to serve as a nice bullpen piece for the Padres.
Along with the quartet of Storm players, a duo of top prospects will join them after helping the Amarillo Sod Poodles.
After a successful season in Double-A, Owen Miller now has a chance to put an exclamation point on his season and, like Campusano, has firmly put himself into San Diego’s plans. In 507 at-bats, Miller hit to the tune of a .290/.355/.430 batting line with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs while playing both shortstop and second base. The tenth overall prospect in San Diego’s system according to MLB Pipeline, Miller has done nothing but hit ever since being taken in the third round of the 2018 Draft and, if everything goes right for him, he will see time at Petco Park in 2020.
Hudson Potts is the final position player that the Padres will send to Arizona. The shortstop-turned-third baseman struggled in 2019 as a 20-year-old in Double-A as, despite clubbing 16 home runs, he still hit to just a .227/.290/.406 batting line. The main issue for Potts is taking control of the strike zone and having a more watchful eye as he struck out 138 times this season while walking just 32 times. Still, the eleventh-ranked prospect’s ceiling remains as a power-hitting third baseman with the potential for 20-30 home runs per season.
One more pitcher has yet to be announced, but the crop of players the Padres are sending to Arizona is an impressive one. The coaching they will receive and how they utilize it will do wonders for their careers while having significant implications on their road to the Show.