Down on the Farm: June’s Top Performers
Nick Buss– OF, Triple-A, El Paso Chihuahuas
.394/.459/.561, 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 37 TB
After sending quite a few players to the Triple-A All Star Game in 2016, the El Paso Chihuahuas are only sending one representative in 2017, but it is a deserving one: outfielder Nick Buss. Sure, Buss has an advantage because he’s a 30-year-old playing in Triple-A, but you can’t argue with his .388/.445/.567 slash line on the season so far. Even more impressive, Buss is hitting .424 over the last 30 days, which includes a few days in July. Buss is just playing well above competition at this point. Even so, it remains unlikely he sees big league playing time given the ample talent the Padres have in the outfield currently and with guys like Travis Jankowski slated to return soon. With that being said, Buss could be having one of the best Triple-A seasons in recent memory, as he is leading the PCL with his .388 batting average.
Matt Magill– RHP, Triple-A, El Paso Chihuahuas
23 IP, 27 H, 10 ER, 13 BB, 22 K
Speaking of veterans playing in the Pacific Coast League, 27-year-old right-hander Matt Magill has been having a solid season for someone pitching in the PCL. Drafted in the 31st round by the Los Angeles Dodgers way back in 2008, it’s been a long road for Magill. However, at 28 years old, he is finally on the verge on reaching the major leagues once again. Given the state of the Padres rotation, Magill could get himself some big league innings later this season if they trade any of their one year contracts, mainly Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin, or Trevor Cahill. Magill hasn’t been dominant, but in a lost year the Padres don’t really need that this year.
Jose Rondon– SS, Double-A, San Antonio Missions
.372/.405/.564, 9 2B, 2 HR, 44 TB
At the end of 2016, a lot of people were ready to write off shortstop Jose Rondon. He had a solid year split between Double and Triple-A, but he had an uninspiring stop at the end of the season with the San Diego Padres. Going into 2017, expectations were rightfully tempered. After an early season injury, things weren’t looking good for Rondon. However, since returning to the Missions on May 8, Rondon slashed .293/.343/.433 in 215 at bats with the San Antonio Missions before being promoted to the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas and slashing .308/.372/.436 in his first 39 at bats. Rondon still has some work to do to be a big league caliber player, but this season has exceeded expectations so far, and he’s only getting better in recent weeks, as evidenced by his insane June numbers.
Brett Kennedy– RHP, Double-A, San Antonio Missions
31 IP, 25 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 31 K
Brett Kennedy has very quietly been one of the Missions best pitchers. With Michael Kelly now in Triple-A, and Kyle Lloyd cooling off in recent weeks, Kennedy has staked his claim at being the best pitcher in the Missions rotation in June. Kennedy is small in stature but he more than makes up for that with his fastball velocity. Kennedy had a hiccup in his first July start, but in five June starts, Kennedy gave up one earned run or less four times, and four earned runs in his other start. All-in-all, it was a fairly complete month for a guy looking to live out his big league dream. He still profiles as a back-end starter type, but there’s a chance for more if he continues to pitch like this going forward.
Jacob Nix– RHP, High-A, Lake Elsinore Storm
33 IP, 30 H, 10 ER, 4 BB, 31 K
Jacob Nix had a really great month of June. Even in a stacked Storm rotation, Nix was still easily the best arm in that rotation. After three solid starts to begin the month, Nix struggled in his fourth start, giving up four earned runs in five innings pitched. However, Nix finished the month with a pretty significant bang, as he threw a complete game, two-hit shut out in his final start of the month of June. After starting the season injured, Nix has really shown what his potential can be when he puts it all together. Here’s hoping he can keep this up the rest of the season.
Brad Zunica– 1B, Low-A Fort Wayne TinCaps
.375/.446/.778, 5 2B, 8 HR, 56 TB
Brad Zunica has been on fire this month. His numbers just really jump off the page. With 13 extra base hits, including eight home runs, Zunica has been locked in at the plate, and has led the TinCaps offense over the last month. As a first base only player, Zunica’s prospect status isn’t great, but you can’t argue with his offensive performance over the last month. First base only players have to hit in order to succeed at the big league level, but Zunica has done nothing but hit so far this season.
Reggie Lawson– RHP, Low-A, Fort Wayne TinCaps
21 IP, 12 H, 7 ER, 7 BB, 26 K
After a bit of a rocky start to the season, to the tune of six earned runs in less than two innings pitched in his season debut, Lawson has been lights out over his last six starts. In those six starts, Lawson has given up 11 earned runs over 29 innings. The numbers don’t pop out too much, but given how much he struggled in his debut this season, this is a strong showing for the month of June.
Kelvin Melean– IF, SS, Tri-City Dust Devils
.305/.379/.339, 2 2B, 20 TB
The season is still young for the short season Tri-City Dust Devils, but Kelvin Melean has been impressive over the first few weeks of the season. He has consistently been batting near the top of the order and has been demonstrating the kind of bat potential he has long-term. Melean also has put up a strong showing in the field to this point, showing that he is a multi-faceted player.
Adrian Morejon– LHP, SS, Tri-City Dust Devils
13 IP, 15 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 12 K
The numbers may not really jump out at you if you look at the hit and earned run counts, but Adrian Morejon has done a lot of good things this year. Chief among them is that strikeout to walk ratio. For players in the lower levels of the minors you want to see pitchers attacking hitters, and Morejon has done just that. He’s giving up some good contact, but the more important thing for his development is his command of the strike zone and working out the kinks in his pitch selection. On the front, it’s been mostly positive to this point.
Mason House/Luis Campusano- OF/C, AZL Padres 2
.429/.429/.786, 2 2B, 1 HR, 11 TB
.429/.556/.857, 2 HR, 12 TB
I couldn’t pick just one player for the AZL Padres so I decided to pick two recent draftees who are both playing on the AZL Padres 2 in the Arizona Rookie League. Both have been very impressive at the plate to begin the season, as evidenced by both of those slash lines. Both guys have shown not only good feel for hitting, but also shown spurts of solid power, which bodes well for their professional careers. Let’s hope for more growth from two of the Padres top selections in this year’s draft.
Luis Patino– RHP, AZL Padres 2
20 IP, 13 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 19 K
After beginning the season with 16 sterling innings in the DSL at the ripe age of 17, right-hander Luis Patino just made his first start with the AZL Padres and looked strong, giving up one earned run and striking out four batters in his four innings pitched. Throw in his strong AZL debut with his strong DSL performance and Patino has already put together a solid campaign, as he is striking out batters at an almost strikeout per inning pace and he is limiting damage. He may be just 17, but this is a guy who already looks advanced for his age and he could start turning some heads.
Yordi Francisco– RF, DSL Padres
.313/.370/.458, 5 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 38 TB
Carlos Valenzuela– RHP, DSL Padres
20.1 IP, 15 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 15 K
Editorial and Prospect Writer for East Village Times. Twenty-five years young, Patrick has lived in San Diego for his entire life and has been a Padres fan nearly as long. Patrick lives for baseball and is always looking to learn new things about the game he loves through advanced stats.
Needs more Christian Villanueva in this list.