Two new acquisitions to the San Diego Padres system, both from the Toronto Blue Jays, have been making noise in Double-A Amarillo. Their recent successes beg the questions, who are they and how what did the Padres give up to land them?
Rodrigo Orozco is a 24-year-old, switch hitter who was signed as an underrated free agent by the Blue Jays in July of 2012 at the age of 17. Since 2013, he has played in over 430 minor league games and has posted a .285/.370/.752 slash line in over 1500 career minor league at-bats.
The Panama City native was initially signed as a second baseman but was quickly moved to the outfield within just one season of being assigned to the DSL Blue Jays.
Orozco spent two years in the Dominican Summer League until June of 2015 where he was finally moved to Rookie League ball. It wasn’t until April of this year that Orozco was finally able to crack above Class-A ball when he was assigned to the Blue Jays Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
It was just one day after finally being assigned to Double-A that the Padres traded for Orozco sending the Blue Jays outfielder Socrates Brito, who they claimed off of waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks just a week before the trade.
This season, the right-handed hitting outfielder seems to be playing at a higher level than any other year in his career. Orozco has been putting the ball in play and getting on base to help the Sod Poodles manufacture runs. In 33 games this season, Orozco has worked 12 walks, knocked 43 hits, and crossed the plate 28 times.
Not only is Orozco a threat to get on base every time he steps to the plate, but the speedy outfielder is a threat on the base paths as well. Throughout his last ten games, he has stolen six bases that have allowed him to be in a position to score a total of 12 runs for the Sod Poodles in that timespan. During the stretch of his last ten games, there was also a 63.2% chance for Orozco to score every time he got himself on base.
Currently, the Padres lead the league in not stranding runners on base (5.62 per game) partially because they rank 26th in the league in on-base percentage (.294). Simply they can’t leave runners stranded on base if they are amongst the worst in the league at getting on base. However, if Orozco can continue to prove his ability to be a threat to not only get on base but a threat on the base paths as well, that may change for the Padres.
We can now shift over to Ivan Castillo, another 24-year-old former-Blue Jay playing at a position the Padres so desperately looking to fill. With Ian Kinsler and Greg Garcia trading awful nights at second base and the team still committed to not calling up Luis Urias, Castillo could be looking to put his name into the mix.
Castillo, who is also a switch-hitter, was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Cleveland Indians back in 2012. The infielder worked his way up to Double-A under Cleveland’s system in 2017 where he was placed on the waiver wire and picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Up until this season, Castillo has been very average at the plate in his minor league career. In 2,054 plate at-bats, he is slashing .255/.303/.651 with 197 career RBI to go along with a 1:2.8 walk to strikeout ratio.
More recently, Castillo has been able to find an approach at the plate that may finally allow him to be more consistent. He is posting a strong .333/.371/.819 slash line with 15 RBI and 29 total bases in just 21 games this season. He is also one to be a threat on the base paths; he has four stolen bases in only six attempts this season, that adds into his career 92 stolen bases to 34 times being caught (73% success rate). For comparison, the current MLB stolen bases leader, Adalberto Mondesi has a stolen base success rate of 84%; Billy Hamilton has a success rate this season of 64%.
Fielding wise, the Padres have been inconsistent at best when it comes to the fielding at second base. This is the main reason why not only so many fans are pushing for the removal of Ian Kinsler, but for the opportunity for a young fielder to be brought up and given a chance.
With 62 career MLB chances at second base, Urias has yet to fail to convert one with 24 putouts, 38 assists, and ten double plays. However, it’s his abysmal production at the plate while in the majors that might be the reason he is in Triple-A despite punishing Pacific Coast League pitching.
Castillo, on the other hand, has found his groove at the plate is also showing his ability to do well in the field. Throughout his entire minor league career, the 24-year-old has managed to amass just seven errors in 377 chances at second base. He has just two errors this season in 136 total innings played at second base.
Despite having a lower fielding percentage, and the same number of errors in fewer innings than Ian Kinsler, Castillo still has a higher range factor per nine innings (RF/9) at 4.60 (Kinsler 3.73). His RF/9 is also higher than the league MLB average, which currently sits at 4.12.
I know it’s challenging to compare major league fielding to minor league fielding, but it’s hard to ignore when he is putting up better defensive numbers and hitting better than any available replacements for the aging veterans the Padres keeping rolling out at second base.
It’s still very early in the season to be sure of anything. If guys like Ian Kinsler, Greg Garcia, Wil Myers, and Hunter Renfroe can’t prove for themselves to be the answer at their respective positions, then Rodrigo Orozco and Ivan Castillo could soon make a push to be the next Padres minor leaguers to make their MLB debut this season.