Players to Watch in 2017
The 2017 season kicks off on March 31 with an exhibition game against the San Diego Padres at the Lake Elsinore Diamond.
The official season, however, will start picking up steam on April 6th as the Storm host their season opener against the Modesto Nuts (Mariners).
Here are five players to look out for in 2017:
Luis Urias: SS/2B/3B
Luis Urias, only 19 years old, was signed out of Mexico in December of 2013 and has been a Padres top prospect for a couple of years now. He is ranked as the Padres’ number 11 prospect by MLB Pipeline; he is also ranked as the number eight overall second base prospect in MLB. In 2016, Urias recorded a slash line of .333/.404/.446 with 44 walks to 37 strikeouts. He also drove in 55 runs and slung six balls over the fence.
Despite not having much power, Urias shows a lot of promise at the plate. He played in just three games above Advanced-A ball last season (Triple-A), but in those three games he hit for a .444 average (6H/9AB), walked five times with only a single strikeout, and drove in three runs. Urias shows promise as a solid contact hitter who can get on base when it’s important, but also has the (limited) power and speed to drive in runs and push for extra bases.
Urias also got the opportunity to play for Mexico in this years’ World Baseball Classic. Urias takes great pride in his country, and during an interview with MLB.com Urias said, “It’s a huge point of pride for me. Growing up, as a kid, I always wanted to play for Mexico and represent my country.” During his time with Mexico in the WBC, Urias only had six plate appearances with just one hit. But the one time he did get on base, he showed off his speed by swiping a base. Although he didn’t do much, being around all the talent Mexico had to offer is a great experience for a kid like Urias.
Michael Gettys: OF
Michal Gettys, 21 years old, was drafted by the Padres in the second round of the 2014 MLB draft. Gettys was brought up to Lake Elsinore in late June of last season after earning mid-season All-Star honors with Fort Wayne in the Midwest League. Although he doesn’t have the strongest bat, he sure does have a quick one. Gettys was able to get his slash line to an impressive .305/.363/.442 while racking up 28 extra-base hits, 12 home runs, and 60 RBI between Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore. Not only has he gotten quicker with his bat, he has also improved along the base paths by swiping an impressive 33 bases. One area of concern is his patience at the plate. Last season, he stuck out a worrying 146 times while only being walking 35 times.
Josh Naylor: 1B
Josh Naylor, 19, was drafted 12th overall in the 2015 MLB draft by the Miami Marlins. He was traded last season in the Andrew Cashner deal to the San Diego Padres where he is now in the system with the Storm. In the minors last season, Naylor slashed an impressive .264/.302./.407 with 31 XBH and 12 long balls in 481 at bats. Josh Naylor has a high ceiling, and shows plenty of potential at the plate.
He is a definite future power hitter, but Naylor needs to learn some patience at the plate, as he struck out a high 84 times with just 25 walks. Those problems are consistent with power hitters and it may just take some time for Naylor to get comfortable at the plate. Some speculation has stirred up suggesting Naylor is a future trade piece, especially with the emergence of a successful Wil Myers at first base. Although if Naylor can grow to his full potential, he and Myers share a seven-year age gap, so it’s not to crazy to think of Myers as the future predecessor to Naylor, and not just a future trade piece.
Javier Guerra: SS
Javier Guerra, 21, was signed by the Boston Red Sox in June of 2012 at just 16 years old. During his time last year in Lake Elsinore, Guerra slashed a disappointing .202/.264/.325 with 20 XBH, nine homers, and 41 RBI. Guerra hasn’t been known for a good bat. He has trouble with his patience, as he’s struck out 141 times with only 34 walks. Yes. He struck out 107 times more than he walked. He still has some work to do at the plate.
On the other side of the ball, Guerra shows amazing upside. According to MLB Pipeline, Guerra gets “glowing reviews for his plus defense, and there’s a contingent of scouts who view him as a future Gold Glove-caliber shortstop.” His speed isn’t the best, but his quick and smart first steps give him an advantage in the field. MLB Pipeline also reports that “His exceptional hands and strong-arm are among the best in the low Minors.” So if Guerra can just get his bat figured out, he could become a premier shortstop at the top of the league.
Enyel De Los Santos, 21, was singed by the Seattle Mariners in July of 2014. The Padres acquired De Los Santos in November as a part of the Joaquin Benoit trade. He pitched in 11 games for Fort Wayne before coming to Lake Elsinore. He posted a 3-2 win-loss record with a 2.91 ERA in seven games started while in Fort Wayne. After being moved up to Lake Elsinore, De Los Santos started in 15 games, where he posted a 5-3 win-loss record with a 4.35 ERA.
Enyel De Los Santos is my pick as the wild card player who will impress this upcoming season. His fastball hovers around 93-95 MPH, but he has gotten the ball up to 97 a few times, showing some room to improve with velocity. He also has a curveball and a sinker that show the ability to be above average with some work. DLS reportedly lets the ball fly in the lower half of the strike zone, leading to a lot of ground balls while he’s on the mound. Scouts are reporting that DLS has a lot more “whiff” to be added to his pitches with improved command and control. He is projected to make his major league appearance by 2019, but he has the ceiling to be an elite pitcher once he gets to the show.
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