Credit: AP Photo

Credit: Padres DSL

Taking a look at the 2019 San Diego Padres DSL team.

Last year’s San Diego Padres DSL team had a winning season for only the third time in its 15-year existence. This year- the club reverted to its old form in terms of wins and losses, losing its last six games of the season to finish with a record of 30-41.

Of course, we know that wins and losses are not the first things one would look to in terms of determining the value of a minor league campaign.

Offensively, the club was in the middle to upper-tier overall as far as team offensive categories go in the 45-team league. The Padres were very young with the average position player age being 17. The Padres team was the youngest squad in the entire league and was led by young Venezuelan catcher Wilfredo Tovar who had a .369/.462/.431/.892 in 78 plate appearances. According to Baseball America’s Ben Badler. Tovar is ‘another athletic catcher with a knack for putting the bat to the ball and over-the-fence pop in games. He runs well for a catcher with average speed.” The power may not develop for a few years, but it is certainly encouraging that his approach of making contact may provide a good base to work off from for the young catcher.

Another performer that stands out is Venezuelan, 17-year old outfielder Edwin Rojas. Badler posits that he has a “projectable frame (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) with a short stroke from the right side, solid contact skills, and a good sense for the strike zone with gap power.” Rojas put up some really good numbers (.279/.420/.414/.834) especially when you consider that he is so young. Badler’s pre-season analysis on Rojas fell right in line with how he performed in 2019 as he almost walked (29) more than he whiffed (30) and showed glimpses of this gap power with ten doubles and three triples.

Reginald Dowston, who Badler referred to as having ‘speed-speed and whippy doubles pop’ (,231/.328/.429/.757) started the season as a 16-year old and showed some power with six home runs which ranked fairly close to the top in the 45-team league.

17-year old INF Euribel Angeles also impressed. Angeles was a DSL All-Star in 2019. He signed for $300,000 last year out of the Dominican Republic. The right-handed hitter has a high contact rate which was evident in the fact that he only struck out 19 times in close to 200 plate appearances. He hit .301/.359/.376/.734 bouncing between shortstop, second and third base.

Speedy centerfielder Eduard Hidalgo sported a .421 OBP in 153 plate appearances who Badler writes “sports an encouraging balance of game skills and tools in the middle of the diamond.” Again, yet another young Padres player whose walk totals (30) line up with his strikeout numbers (31).

Albert Fabian (.321/.500/.607/1.107) went 8-for-27 to start the season with five doubles and a home run. He’s also walked nine times. Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote this about Fabian in April. “The Dominican teenager is 6 feet, 215 pounds. He is a lefty slugger with a strong, physically mature frame for his age. His calling card is his raw power, a potential plus tool. His game performance has been up and down, but at his best, he has driven the ball out of the park with a short, flat swing. He’s a corner outfielder with some first base risk depending on how much mobility he retains as he ages.”

17-year-old, Venezuelan Neifi Antunez went 6-for-16 (three walks) to start the season. Badler posited that Antunez possesses ‘large, strong hands that bode well for his future strength projection, with a line drive, spray approach right now from the right side. He’s a high-motor, gamer-type player with slightly above-average speed.”

Credit: AP Photo

Conversely, as the position players were the youngest in the league, the Padres’ DSL pitching staff at an average of 18.9, was among the oldest. Also, their team totals were in the lower third in most pitching categories. The three hurlers that stood out from the rest were two or three years older than the average age of hurler in the league. Nevertheless, Jesus Lugo (21 years of age) had very good numbers as did lefty Jonfy Diaz’s whose numbers and age (22) aren’t the only thing that grabs your attention when considering his future – he’s a 6-foot-5 lefty that throws hard.

One of the more intriguing hurlers is one of the DSL’s youngest players, Venezuelan right-handed pitcher Alejandro Lugo who turned 17 on Aug. 20. According to Badler, he’s six-f00t tall and weighs 165 pounds. He pitches aggressively with an 87-90 mph fastball and shows feel to spin a curveball. Lugo struggled this year at times but showed a lot of promise.

18-year-old Venezuelan Frank Lopez, who the Padres started in the AZL last year at 17 had some command issues in ‘18 but did strike out 35 in 28 innings. He has had two good starts in the opening two weeks with his second start being a dazzling, five frames with no runs allowed and nine strikeouts. However, he was shelved early in the season never to return.

Nick Rios, Jose Garcia, and Jesus Cisneros have also performed well at times, and it will be interesting to see if they rise next year or repeat in the Dominican Summer League.

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Jeffrey Pilch
Jeffrey grew up in Carlsbad and has been a Padres fan since the late 70's. He is currently a Social Studies teacher at Newman Smith High School in Carrollton, Texas.

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