Down on the Farm: August Review- Tremendous Growth Within the System

Credit: Ryan Cox

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Rafael Ortega– OF, Triple-A, El Paso Chihuahuas
33-89, .371/.456/.528, 9 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 17 R, 47 TB, 159 wRC+

Outfielder Rafael Ortega has done a little bit of everything for the Chihuahuas in the month of August. Given his age (he’s 26), Ortega isn’t much of a prospect, but he has been fairly consistent all season. Through August, Ortega has a 118 wRC+ on the season, which makes him one of the better hitters on the Chihuahuas’ roster this year. With the Padres expansive outfield depth, it’s unclear whether Ortega will ever see big league playing time in San Diego. However, he probably will get an opportunity elsewhere at some point in the near future.

Chris Huffman– RHP, Triple-A, El Paso Chihuahuas
32.2 IP, 31 H, 8 ER, 7 BB, 27 K, 2.20 ERA

It isn’t a very flashy stat line, but right-hander Chris Huffman has been getting the job done for the Chihuahuas since being promoted from the Missions at the end of July/beginning of August. He’s not a big strikeout pitcher, and his FIP numbers are vastly higher than his ERA numbers, but it’s hard to argue with the results Huffman has gotten. Huffman is never going to be a top-notch big league starter, but it seems like he is as good a candidate as any to eat some big league innings for the Friars in 2018 in what should be another lost season in San Diego.

Fernando Tatis Jr.- SS, Double-A, San Antonio Missions
20-54, .370/.539/.722, 7 2B, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 16 R, 39 TB, 242 wRC+ (Low-A)
7-39, .179/.220/.282, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 11 TB, 28 wRC+ (Double-A)

Prior to his promotion to Double-A San Antonio, Fernando Tatis Jr. was absolutely raking for the Fort Wayne TinCaps. Since the promotion, Tatis has struggled a bit for the Missions, as was probably to be expected for an 18-year-old making the jump all the way to Double-A ball. After making such great strides with his plate discipline as his season progressed in Fort Wayne, Tatis has run into some trouble with plate discipline against better pitchers in the Texas League. It’s hard to expect too much from a teenager in Double-A, so Tatis will have another week, plus the playoffs, to figure out the higher level pitching.

Enyel De Los Santos– RHP, Double-A, San Antonio Missions
28 IP, 17 H, 5 R (4 ER), 10 BB, 28 K, 1.29 ERA

He’s joined in a rotation by at least four pitchers who are generally ranked higher than him in prospect rankings, however, right-hander Enyel De Los Santos has been the most consistent Missions’ pitcher in at least the month of August, if not longer. De Los Santos still has a bit of a problem with walks, but his results have been good enough over the last few months to really overlook the walk problem. However, if De Los Santos can’t better his control long-term, it’s hard to see him sticking in a big league rotation. In a way, De Los Santos is similar to Dinelson Lamet, although he lacks the pure stuff of Lamet. His fastball is clearly his best pitch, with his curveball not far behind, but he is going to need to better harness a third pitch on top of working on his control in order to have success long-term.

Rod Boykin– OF, High-A, Lake Elsinore Storm
25-80, .313/.382/.475, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 15 R, 38 TB, 133 wRC+

Drafted in the 12th round of the MLB Draft way back in 2013, it has been a bit of a long road for outfielder Rod Boykin. However, after not getting out of A-ball through his first four years in the organization, Boykin has finally seen a bit of a break through this season. Boykin began the season in Fort Wayne, but quickly advanced to Lake Elsinore after putting up a 111 wRC+ over his first 235 plate appearances with the TinCaps. Since joining Elsinore, Boykin has been even better, slashing .322/.383/.553 with a 150 wRC+ in 152 at bats in High-A. He has struggled with a high strikeout rate, over 30 percent at both levels, but his decent walk rate and overall offensive production have lessened that concern. With that being said, the 22-year-old is going to have to make some adjustments to his plate discipline to have further success at the upper levels of the minors.

Credit: M. Kreg (EVT Sports)

Logan Allen– LHP, High-A, Lake Elsinore Storm
26 IP, 22 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 29 K, 1.73 ERA

Logan Allen lacks the pedigree of Cal Quantrill, the polish of Eric Lauer, the deceptiveness of Joey Lucchesi, and the potential impact of Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez, but he has been one of the more consistent minor league pitchers in any organization this season. Over the last month of starts dating back to July 27, Allen has struck out 36 batters in 32 innings with a 2.25 ERA. Since being promoted to High-A, Allen has had only one start in which he gave up more than three earned runs. In fact, Allen has given up more than three earned runs just once this whole season, as he has a 2.41 ERA in his 123 and a third innings pitched so far this season.

Hudson Potts– 3B, Low-A, Fort Wayne TinCaps
37-107, .346/.397/.664, 10 2B, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 21 R, 71 TB, 195 wRC+

After a poor first half offensively, third baseman Hudson Potts has really come into his own in the second half for the TinCaps. With Tatis earning a promotion to Double-A, Potts is suddenly the leader of a solid TinCaps offense. It’s really been a night and day difference between Potts first and second halves. In the first half, Potts struggled to a .226/.259/.360 slash line in the first half. By comparison, Potts has put up a .274/.323/.506 slash line in the second half. The power surge is also apparent, as Potts has already hit 13 second half home runs compared to just six home runs in the first half. With his recent string of success, Potts is now over a 100 wRC+ for the season, which didn’t seem possible earlier in the year. He will likely find himself in Lake Elsinore next year where he can see if the adjustments he has made can stick.

Pedro Avila– RHP, Low-A, Fort Wayne TinCaps
34 IP, 22 H, 8 ER, 6 BB, 50 K, 2.12 ERA

Speaking of players who have overcome poor first halves to earn lots of second half attention, right-hander Pedro Avila perfectly fits that bill. After struggling at the start of the year in Lake Elsinore, Avila was demoted to Fort Wayne. Since his demotion, Avila has been stellar, including 90 strikeouts in 11 second half starts, during which he has accumulated a 2.65 ERA. Avila has been even better in August, racking up strikeouts while keeping walks and earned runs to a minimum. Avila has really come into his own, and may be one of the bigger prospect surprises for the Padres this season.

Ben Sheckler– LHP, Short Season, Tri-City Dust Devils
31 IP, 25 H, 8 R (6 ER), 4 BB, 24 K

It seems like we are hitting on a common theme here of players who struggled to start off the season, but have come on as late. The story is no different for left-hander Ben Sheckler, who struggled in Fort Wayne before really coming into his own following a demotion to Tri-City. Since that demotion, Sheckler has arguably been the best pitcher on the Tri-City roster, and that was no different in what was a stellar month of August for him. He’s quite a ways down the totem pole in terms of Padres pitching prospects, but the 22-year-old has put together a pretty special year, even if it’s only in short season ball.

Credit: Milb

Esteury Ruiz– 2B, Rookie League, AZL Padres
30-91, .330/.396/.516, 6 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 17 R, 47 TB, 146 wRC+

Since coming over to the Padres in the trade that sent Brandon Maurer, Ryan Buchter, and Trevor Cahill to the Kansas City Royals, Esteury Ruiz has been locked in for the Padres AZL team. Given the less than stellar performances of Maurer and Buchter since the trade, and the injury to Cahill, and it already looks like the Padres are coming out of that trade looking pretty good. Ruiz has shown a lot of hitting ability, and even more importantly, a lot of power since being traded to the AZL. It is very possible that Ruiz could be next year’s Fernando Tatis Jr. And I don’t mean that in terms of talent necessarily, but he could very quickly rocket through prospect rankings next year the way Tatis did this year.

MacKenzie Gore- LHP, Rookie League, AZL Padres
12.2 IP, 11 H, 5 R (3 ER), 6 BB, 21 K, 2.13 ERA

Since being drafted in June, left-hander MacKenzie Gore has been just as advertised. This month, he continued his streak of dominance. He gave up more hits than he did in his first month or so, but the strikeout-to-walk ratio remains sterling, and he looks to continue his string of success. Gore may have one more start this year, but he will probably do some work in instructs this fall and could be a quick riser next year if he continues his string of dominance at higher levels.

Mason House- OF, Rookie League, AZL Padres 2
31-93, .333/.376/.538, 4 2B, 6 3B, 1 HR, 20 RBI, 16 R, 50 TB, 142 wRC+

Mason House had a pretty low profile going into the 2017 MLB Draft when the Padres chose to select him with their third-round pick. Since then, he has exceeded expectations, as he has just constantly been hitting since joining the AZL Padres 2. He has shown a great overall approach with a good deal of extra base power and a good feel for hitting overall. On top of that, he has received positive reviews on his defense and base running, and looks like a solid all-around player going forward.

Vijay Miller and Cole Bellinger- RHPs, Rookie League, AZL Padres 2
10.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 15 K, 0.87 ERA
11.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 12 K, 0.79 ERA

Danny Tovar– LF, DSL Padres
13-42, .406/.428/.688, 3 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 22 TB

Moises Lugo– RHP, DSL Padres
19.1 IP, 11 H, 3 R (2 ER), 6 BB, 10 K, 0.93 ERA

Honorable Mentions
Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer- LHPs, Double-A, San Antonio Missions
29.2 IP, 16 H, 7 R (4 ER), 7 BB, 29 K, 1.21 ERA
27 IP, 17 H, 4 R (3 ER), 9 BB, 26 K, 1.00 ERA

Hansel Rodriguez– RHP, Low-A, Fort Wayne TinCaps
12.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 21 K, 0.71 ERA

Dauris Valdez– RHP, Low-A, Fort Wayne TinCaps
10.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 14 K, 0.87 ERA

Nick Margevicius- LHP, Short Season, Tri-City Dust Devils
19 IP, 12 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 17 K, 0.95 ERA

Luis Patino– RHP, Rookie League, AZL Padres
24 IP, 14 H, 7 R (5 ER), 10 BB, 23 K, 1.88 ERA

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