Padres’ Minor League Depth: Top 5 Relief Pitchers

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(Andres Munoz) Credit: MiLB

The San Diego Padres have some very nice young pitchers who could one day be viable relievers for the team.

Here is a glimpse at the cream of the crop for the team:

1- Trey Wingenter

The 23-year-old Wingenter recorded 20 out of 26 saves chances for the Missions in 2017. At 6′ 7″ and 200 lbs-plus, he is an imposing force on the mound. Wingenter throws in the upper 90’s and could have an outside chance at a bullpen spot for the Padres in 2018. He hasn’t thrown in Triple-A yet, but has shown some great potential since he was drafted out of Auburn in the 17th round of the 2015 draft. Wingenter is a potential closer of the future if he continues to progress.

2- Andres Munoz

This fireballer from Mexico should rise through the Padres’ system fairly quickly. He is a reliever and will only be used in that capacity for now as he has issues controlling his triple-digit fastball. The right-hander has some command issues, but that is what you get when you have a hard thrower. The teenager is still growing into his 6′ 2″ frame so there is time for him to harness his delivery. If Munoz learns to do that, he could be a potential closer of the future. He throws easy gas. 100 plus mph fastballs are common from this man and his slider is serviceable as well. He WILL climb this list.

3- Hansel Rodriguez

The converted starter has excelled in the closer role and could be a quick riser now that the team has found his identity. Acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for Melvin Upton, he has really come on in the last six months. He reminds me of Craig Kimbrel with his arm waggle as he sets from the stretch. He is armed with a plus fastball that he sinks to both sides of the plate. His slider is serviceable and he also throws a change, though that is clearly his least effective pitch. He recorded 10 saves in the last few months of the season and should start the 2018 season as the Lake Elsinore Storm’ closer.

4- Brad Wieck

The 26-year-old lefty had a solid year in the minors. He received a call-up to El Paso and was a key member of the Missions’ bullpen in 2017. Wieck has battled some control issues from time to time, but at 6′ 9″, that will always be an issue for him. For the most part, he was able to repeat his mechanics, and that bodes well for his future. Wieck is a bit of a late bloomer, but has progressed really nicely. He should get a cup of coffee in San Diego at some point in the 2018 season at the very least. He is filthy from the left side, hitting the mid 90’s with his fastball.

5- Gerardo Reyes

This hard throwing right-hander has been really effective out of the bullpen. He has a high 90’s fastball with a decent slider. Even though he is small in stature, he really generates some velocity from his heater. He was successful last year in Lake Elsinore, which is a hitter’s league, and even recorded five saves for the Storm. He was sent back to Lake Elsinore, but should be promoted very soon. He is the eldest pitcher/player on the Storm roster at the age of 24.

Honorable Mention

Starlin Cordero

This young man is a hard thrower. He is blessed with a triple-digit fastball, but has horrible control issues presently. At the age of 19, the Padres will be patient with him. He is 6′ 7″ and 220 lbs, so he has the size to be a reliable pitcher. The Dominican has the size, but there are some concerns about his long-term abilities.

Jose Castillo

Left-handed pitchers are valuable, and this young man could potentially be a decent prospect one day. He has good size (6′ 4″) and repeats his mechanics well, but needs to refine his secondary and be more aggressive. He has a decent enough fastball to attack hitters. Castillo is purely a relief option, but he could throw for the Padres some day. I fully expect him to climb this list in the next 12-18 months.

Austin Smith

A.J. Preller’s first ever draft selection was this young man with the 51st selection in the 2015 draft. He was a hard-throwing prep athlete with a great body for pitching. Smith regularly sits in the mid 90’s with his fastball and has serviceable breaking pitches, but he has been hit hard since he was drafted. In his career, he has struck out 131 batters in 168 innings pitched, but has also walked 94 in that time. He was demoted to Tri-City late in the year, where he recorded two saves for the team, but recorded a 5.14 ERA and a 1.476 WHIP. He is still only 21 and the talent is there, but he needs to really look deep if he wants to pitch in the major leagues some day. Smith starts in Lake Elsinore and could be in for some development this season.

Elliot Ashbeck

Drafted out of Bradley University with the team’s 16th-round draft pick in 2015, this young hurler had Tommy John surgery and is working his way back into form. 2018 could be a huge year for him as he has excellent numbers. Ashbeck owns a career 2.11 ERA in his 68 minor league innings. He starts in Lake Elsinore and has plenty of tools in his bag to become an effective middle reliever.

1 thought on “Padres’ Minor League Depth: Top 5 Relief Pitchers

  1. Great piece on developing back end of the bullpen candidates, I think we will also see a couple of our current starter prospects who will fail to develop a 3rd pitch or continue to struggle getting through the lineup a 2nd or 3rd time. Anderson Espinoza to me is a future closer for a few reasons. There will also be some prospect starters that could get passed for spots in the ML 5 man rotaion and be available for use in the bullpen. I think their is a need in todays baseball for a couple of long men in the bullpen that are good, especially if your starters are younger. We have that going now with Erlin and Lyles, one from each side. They are much better than mop up guys, whih we have used in the past. We also did this with great success back in the 84 WS.

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