Social Summit/Padres on Deck Game: September 29

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Credit: Padres

A couple of EVT writers and myself (plus my lovely wife) were lucky enough to be invited to a Padres event Friday.

The team hosted another #PadresSocialSummit in which a new hashtag of #PadresOnDeck was utilized. The summit would include some top Padres’ personnel, and of course, a meet and greet with several of the Padres young up and coming prospects.

Ron Fowler was first on the docket, as the Padres Executive Chairman fielded questions about his team. Several inquiries pertaining to baseball operations and the future of the team were asked. Nothing too noteworthy, until the topic of the color of the jerseys was mentioned. As usual, Fowler rolled his eyes and said the team was about to do a major research project. This research project was confirmed earlier in the week, to me, by Wayne Partello. The last research project was completed in the Jeff Moorad era, which was roughly 6-8 years ago. In speaking of this mysterious research project, Ron Fowler dropped a bomb on the 20-plus in attendance. He claims that the initial report is lost and that is why the team cannot prove the results that did not favor the color brown as a permanent uniform color. Huh. Lost. Really? That is just so Padres. I leave it at that.

The first of many prospects to speak to the crowd was Luis Campusano. The catcher was very personable and took the time to speak to several fans. He spoke about his desire to get better and about the catching craft which he learned from his father. Campusano’s dad was a professional baseball player and that had to be a huge influence on him.

Mason House followed Campusano into the building and was very pleasant to speak to. His deep voice echoed through the room as he fielded many questions about his first taste of professional baseball. He spoke about coming late to the party, as he refuses to call himself a late bloomer. I asked him about his at bats against Mackenzie Gore and the knock he got off of him. He laughed and spoke a little bit about the talented lefty.

In a twist of irony, the next prospect to walk in the room was the Padres #3 selection in the 2017 draft. Mackenzie Gore has a swagger about him even while wearing batting practice clothes and talking to a crowd of fans. He southern twang was mesmerizing, as he gladly discussed his mechanics and his admiration for swinging the bat, something that he will eventually get to do as a National League pitcher. This young man has the potential to be very special.

Next up for questioning was Cuban left-handed pitcher Adrian Morejon. He walked in very quietly and seemed very shy about the whole situation. Nicki Patriarca from the Padres translated for him, as Morejon did not seem receptive to practicing his English. The soft-spoken hurler answered many questions about his nationality and his time in Cuba.

As Morejon spoke, one of the most interesting and fun follows on Twitter was walking in the room. I grabbed my second hot dog of the afternoon and got ready for a fun talk. Jacob Nix is a great guy. I have had many interactions and conversations with him, and I knew the crowd would really get a kick out of listening to him. He did not fail to deliver, as he was loose and energetic and interacted with most everyone in the room. Unlike some of the prospects that came before him, he was very easy to talk to.

Mackenzie Gore Credit: EVT News

As Nix was speaking, I noticed our next prospect sneak into the room. How could you miss the 6′ 8″ Michel Baez as he strolled into the venue. During the interview, Baez was forced to sit down because of the height difference between him and his translator (Nicki). I asked him about his mechanics and his ability to repeat them. He told us that he works very hard to get his mechanics in order, and he also professed a great pleasure for striking out hitters. Baez has an edge about him. He reeks of a future ace. You just get that sense about him.

The next prospect walked in and there was an immediate buzz. Fernando Tatis was in the house and you could sense the excitement. Tatis was at last year’s future game and spoke to the crowd then. His English is nearly flawless now, after using a translator last year. He communicated very clearly and listened intently to everyone’s questions. He professed a desire to get to Petco in the 2018 season. He was dead serious about that. I looked into his eyes. He sincerely believes it is possible. That is exciting.

That concluded the player portion of the event. Tatis was certainly the icing on the cake and several in attendance took the opportunity to get autographs and collect selfies. He was totally cordial and took time with each person who asked. He is already embracing his fandom and that is a great thing. Despite the fact no more players would be on hand, we were treated with a special visit from International Scouting Director Chris Kemp and Special Assignment Advisor Steve Lyons. Kemp is always so personable and passionate. He talked about many of the young players in the system and named Luis Patino as someone to keep an eye on. Lyons and Kemp told us how they got into the baseball industry. Listening to them talk about developing young players and what they look for in players was fascinating.

That concluded the Social Summit event of the day, but we were all happy to know that a seven inning scrimmage game had just started between the Rangers and Padres. Reggie Lawson was on the mound as my group took a seat directly behind home plate (not the Toyota Terraces) in row one for the scrimmage game. Lawson looked great flashing a mid 90’s fastball, with a decent change and hard slider.

The Padres have a developing minor league system. It is amazing that they can put this yearly showcase on to display their future. In the game, the team was rotating players almost every inning. It was difficult to get a sense of who was playing. Tre Carter did smash a home run deep into the right field stands in the third inning, which proved to be the only home run of the game.

Other Padres performances of note included at bats from Kelvin Melean, Jordy Barley, Luis Campusano, Blake Hunt, Ruddy Giron, Mason House, and Jack Suwinski. Osvaldo Hernandez, Manny Guzman, and Jeremy Smith all threw in the game. It was a great opportunity to see these young kids firsthand. The Padres won the game 5-4 and celebrated the victory out on the field in front of the sparse crowd.

As the game reached its ending stages, several players came into the stands behind home plate to watch the game. Buddy Reed, Fernando Tatis, Adrian Morejon, Pedro Avila, Michel Baez, Austin Smith, and several other prospects were just hanging out watching a ball game. Tatis was again a popular autograph as he signed in the isle of Petco Park. The whole experience was nice for both the prospects and the fans. The young players get a sense of big league life, and the dedicated fans earn the opportunity to see and talk to players they could only read about.

Side Notes:

  • Blake Hunt is nursing a sore shoulder presently. He is starting a new program and is positive it will help. The young catcher was still able to hit on Friday. He reports that the shoulder is not a huge issue swinging, though he has made some minor adjustments at the plate.
  • Brad Zunica was twice left in the on-deck circle in the game, only to not get an at-bat. The power-hitting first baseman was in good spirits after the game reports that he hopes to get some at-bats on Saturday. Look for Zunica to get an at bat or two on Saturday night in Petco Park.
  • Jacob Nix and Mackenzie Gore formed the most expensive bat boy duo in the history of the game on Friday afternoon. Both players ran balls to the umpire and collected bats throughout the seven-inning contest.

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