50- Jerry Keel (23) LHP (San Antonio Missions/Double-A)
This left-handed pitcher keeps progressing for the Friars. He made it all the way to San Antonio in the 2016 season and started three games for the Missions. Keel features a low 90’s fastball which he spots well to both sides of the plate. He sinks the pitch and subsequently gets a lot of ground balls. He is not a strikeout pitcher and prefers to pound the strike zone. He has a curve ball which has good tilt, but it isn’t a dominant pitch by any means. Keel could still develop into a starter, but he looks to be a left-handed bullpen option for the team eventually. He spoke to us and told us a little bit about who he is as a pitcher.
49- Jose Castillo (21) LHP (Lake Elsinore Storm/High Single-A)
The big left-handed pitcher, acquired with Wil Myers from the Rays, has progressed slowly. He only pitched 40 innings last season, but did record a 2.03 ERA, including a 1.59 ERA in Lake Elsinore in seven appearances. He has a low to mid 90’s fastball and struck out 49 batters last year while walking 12. There have been some concerns about his weight and he has had health issues thus far in his young career. The arm strength is real, so this young man just needs to stay healthy and focused.
48- Roland Bolanos (20) RHP (Has Yet to Make Pro Debut)
He is 20, and a little further along in his development than most of the young kids the team drafted internationally. Bolanos has a live arm, and also has a bit of a deception about the way he throws. He hides the ball well and hitters have a tough time adjusting to him. His three-quarters motion has a lot to do with that. Bolanos has been clocked in the 94-96 MPH range and has an excellent slider. The young man also throws a curve ball and a change-up. He has four pitches and commands them pretty well. The former Cuban national left the country in the summer of 2015, after pitching as a member of the country’s Junior National Team. As a reliever in 2014-15, he pitched for Mayabeque, which is in Cuba’s top league. He threw 37 2/3 innings there to the tune of a 4.89 ERA. He will probably start in Fort Wayne in his first taste of pro ball.
47- Jordy Barley (17) SS (Has Yet to Make Pro Debut)
Another young shortstop, as the Padres selected four in the 2016 international signing period. Barley is a right-handed hitter and has above-average speed. The man can really move, and the Padres did well in adding this young man to their farm system. He was clocked at 6.4 seconds in the 60-yard dash, and that is an excellent time. His bat needs work, as it is reported his bat speed is lacking slightly. He is expected to improve with the bat as he works with the Padres’ minor league coaching staff. He has speed and that never takes a day off. Barley could develop nicely in time, as again, he is only 17.
46- Justin Lopez (17) SS (Has Yet to Make Pro Debut)
If any player drafted in this international signing period is considered a defensive specialist, its Lopez. The switch-hitter is so smooth defensively that he could easily play at the higher minor league levels now. His bat has lagged behind a bit in production, but recently he is starting to drive the ball better from both sides of the plate. His range is excellent, but he lacks a little foot-speed and is reportedly working on that. Lopez, at the age of 17, is still very raw. His defensive abilities alone should make him a serviceable player in the Padres’ farm system. If he can learn a better approach at the plate and gain more consistency, he could be special.
45- Nick Torres (23) OF (El Paso Chihuahuas/Triple-A)
This outfielder is just about ready for major league service time, but presently has no spot on the roster, with Renfroe, Margot, Dickerson, Jankowski, and probably Gettys and Reed ahead of him on the depth chart. He is not flashy by any sense of the imagination, but he just gets the job done. He has been kind to EVT and we have had multiple discussions and interviews with this young man. He is grounded and focused, and it’s a shame that the team is stacked in the outfield presently. He will be hard-pressed to find playing time with the Padres at the moment, but there is definite potential.
44- Brad Zunica (21) 1B (Fort Wayne Tincaps/Low Single-A)
This big first baseman has a lot of power, and is just beginning to find himself at the plate. The left-handed hitter spent the entire year at Fort Wayne, where he worked on pitch recognition and knowing his skill set. He had a monster July for the TinCaps, but a wrist injury at the end of the season robbed him of offensive numbers. He spent a little time in the AZL league this fall, and is fully committed to getting better. At 6′ 6″, Zunica has tons of power potential, and he will surely get better with time. In interviews with Brad, he has always been gracious and more than willing to talk and discuss his game.
43- Pedro Avila (20) RHP (WAS Hagerstown/Low Single-A)
Acquired from the Washington Nationals for Derek Norris, this short-in-stature pitcher has an excellent arm. Avila has decent strikeout numbers throughout his tour with the Nationals’ minor league system. He will probably start in Fort Wayne and he only adds to the tremendous depth in the Padres’ farm system. At the time of the trade, he was listed as the Nationals’ 23rd ranked prospect. The 5′ 11″ pitcher has a lively arm and could turn some heads in Lake Elsinore or Fort Wayne.
42- Ramon Perez (17) LHP (Has Yet to Make Pro Debut)
Ramon Ernesto Favier Perez is a 17-year-old Cuban left-handed pitcher who has excellent stuff. He is clocked in the low to mid 90’s with his fastball, and also has a pretty advanced curve ball and split fingered fastball for a hurler of his age. Perez is raw, but with the proper tutelage he could really be special. He will probably need some more time before he ascends this list, but he is a player to look out for.
41- Andrew Walker Lockett (23) RHP (El Paso Chihuahuas/Triple-A)
Originally drafted in 2012, it took a little bit of time for Lockett to reach his ability. He had some maturity issues that needed to be overcome, as he was disciplined by the team for violating team rules. He is a big-body pitcher with a decent sinking fastball. His off-speed stuff is average at best though, and he will need to refine those pitches if he wants to have success at the next level. He progressed well in 2016, and who knows, he could be a late bloomer. The fact he made it all the way to Triple-A speaks to his maturity, and he could be in the right situation to capitalize as the Padres need pitching presently. It would not be out of the question to see Lockett at Petco this season.
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