Nothing but October baseball can match the grandeur of the MLB All-Star Game. The same can be said about each minor league summer classic. Even though the MiLB All-Star games don’t garner as much attention as the parent one, they carry more weight and importance, especially since the major league event will no longer have a home-field advantage rule attached to it.
With the Fort Wayne Tincaps and the Lake Elsinore Storm both participating in their respective All-Star games on June 20, Padres farm players will start seeing their hard work pay off with league-wide respect. However, the All-Star games signify a more important turning point than giving talented players attention.
They allow major league front offices to assess their farm players and determine who is willing and capable of advancing in the minors. As such, this article will discuss Padres players from A-ball to Double-A, who ought to get promoted once the all-star season concludes.
Since it’s harder to get called up from Triple-A due to roster crunching, and since short-season A-ball is just starting, neither players from Triple-A, nor players from levels below Single-A will be discussed in this piece. As such, let’s get started.
San Antonio Missions
Luis Urias, a fan favorite nowadays, was once a little-known prospect. Signed by the Padres in 2013 after playing for the Mexico City Red Devils as a 16-year-old, Urias impressed immediately. While playing in the Dominican Summer League in 2014, the youngster needed only 10 at-bats for the Padres to move him to the States. Once doing so, Urias took off, showing a highly advanced approach at the plate and solid defense at second. In his four seasons of minor league ball, the prospect has walked 126 times in comparison to striking out 106 times, allowing him to post a superb lifetime OBP. of .400. 2017 has been more of the same from the young contact star as he has totaled 41 walks compared to 36 strikeouts, allowing him to have a .414 OBP. Pitchers are starting to take notice of the fact that this Mexican prospect is dangerous while in the batter’s box as they have given him three free passes, more than the power threat of Franmil Reyes. Besides the high on-base percentage, the Missions’ all-star has also contributed a pretty .316 batting average and a wRC+ of 138. These great offensive numbers along with steady defense (a solid 4.54 range factor at second to go with a strong arm which has helped turn 53 double plays) are evidence that Urias has taken his Double-A assignment with great strides. He is a dominant force for the team and, based on his numbers, ready for another challenge. As such, he is a player whom the Padres should promote to Triple-A El Paso.
Another prospect who merits a promotion, Franmil Reyes has done an exceptional job while in San Antonio. Always regarded as a power-first player since he signed for $700,000 in 2011, he has become more and more adept at controlling the strike zone and translating his raw power to games. Although last year was said to be his best year, this year he has been even better. His strikeout rate has increased by three percent, but Reyes still has a very manageable 22% K rate, especially for a power hitter. Besides the strikeouts, the 21-year-old has improved in nearly every other offensive facet. While his slash line of .278/.340/.452 was a nice surprise for the 2016 Padres’ farm teams, his current line of .287/.351/.457 is even more enticing. The most outstanding thing about this improvement is the fact that Reyes is currently playing in San Antonio, a pitcher’s league which is much harsher on batters than Lake Elsinore, where the prospect starred in 2016.
On defense, he has taken a step backwards. However, he still has an arm scouts have long deemed as average or above even though he only has two assists this year. His defense is second in nature to his hitting though, and was never going to be anything more than consistent. As a result, the Padres could reward the Dominican for his offensive value and give him a one-way trip to El Paso.
Another outfielder on the Missions’ roster worthy of being promoted, Alberth Martinez has provided good results for two full seasons and an injury-marred one. Even though this and the fact that he is 26 means that he may never be more than an organizational player, he ought to be rewarded for his efforts. While his numbers pale in comparison to the play of Luis Urias and Franmil Reyes, Martinez has contributed on both sides of the ball. With a slash line of .271/.328/.445, the Venezuelan ball player will never wow anyone. On the other hand, he won’t disappoint as he has provided similar numbers since he was signed in 2010.
As for his defense, the same thing can be said. He’s not a great defender, but he is solid, as evidenced by his .979 fielding percentage. In other words, any ball that he can get to more often than not turn into outs, unlike some other players the Padres have employed in recent years (Matt Kemp). He also has played in all three outfield spots so he’s a versatile player in a game where that quality has become more and more valued.
Overall, the three solid years Martinez has had in San Antonio must be enough for him to go to El Paso.
Once considered the Padres’ shortstop of the future, Jose Rondon has been somewhat disappointing since headlining the trade package San Diego received from the Angels for Huston Street in the summer of 2014. With no true plus tool, the young shortstop has a future of being a quality utility player or bench piece. This future was certainly shown when he auditioned for the shortstop position last year. It didn’t take long for San Diego to lose hope in him as he only played eight games in the majors and provided little to drool over. Instead, he showed that he may have a hard time even breaking into the league. With this reputation, he went into the 2017 season as a make-it or break-it prospect. After 208 AB’s, Rondon has the Padres’ front office once again excited over his steady play.
While in San Antonio this year, Rondon struggled in the early going as he hit a terrible .214 batting average in April and a slightly-less-depressing .257 in May. However, June has been a completely different story for the prospect as he has caught fire. In 71 at bats, the 23-year-old has compiled a shiny .366/.395/.563 line to push his stats to better than any other year he’s had since beginning the year as a Padre farm player. In addition to having a better hit tool this year, Rondon is also on pace for hitting more home runs than in any other year as he currently has four, two less than last year where he had about 250 more AB’s. As such, another chance at Triple-A could be in the cards for him after the MiLB All-Star season, especially since he has improved offensively while still providing the average to better defense that he’s always displayed.
A favorite at East Village Times, Kyle Lloyd is a 26-year-old starting pitcher who was drafted by the Padres in the 29th round of the 2013 draft. While he is an older prospect, he has impressed during his tenure with the San Antonio Missions. In 12 starts for the team, he has compiled a 3.03 ERA, no doubt helped by the no-hitter he threw on May 13. After 71.1 innings, Lloyd has a decent 8.83 K/9 rate, but he has excelled at inducing ground balls with a 50.5 GB% and has stranded base runners with a rate of 64.5%. These abilities have allowed him to pitch beyond his stuff and have success in San Antonio. Yet, even his current stats don’t do him justice as he carries a high .339 BABIP and a low FIP of 2.35. Therefore, he’s actually more productive than his earned run average indicates.
With the Padres’ starters, such as Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard, and Trevor Cahill, being tossed around as trade candidates, the team needs new blood in the rotation. With what Lloyd is doing in Double-A, it would be a good strategy for the team to try expediting his current path to the majors and promoting him to Triple-A.
Another starting pitcher on the Missions’ roster, Kelly is arguably the best starter on the team. He is in the same situation as Lloyd as both stand to hopefully get time on the big league roster once the current Padres’ starters get traded. The former Padres’ compensation A pick in the 2011 draft, Kelly has never had a season in which he posted a below 4.00 ERA. However, there is always time for one and he is surely on his way to accomplishing that feat in 2017. In 14 starts for San Antonio, the righty has a 9.15 K/9 clip and 76.3 LOB%, both better than Lloyd. However, in all other areas he is due for some negative regression. He doesn’t keep the ball on the ground as well as Lloyd (~20% less) nor does he have as good of a FIP (3.52). Being 24 years old, about to turn 25 in September, he too offers limited upside. But, now is the time to promote him since he has done well with the Missions and could be in the major league rotation before the 2017 season concludes.
Lastly, Trey Wingenter, a 17th round pick by the Padres in the 2015 draft, has promise. Like, Phil Maton, he has quickly risen through the system due to his plus fastball and has dominated at each level of the minor leagues in the last two years. While 2016 might have been his best as he carried an ERA of 1.79 through 58.1 innings, this year has been largely productive for him. In 24 games, the 23-year-old from Alabama has struck out an outstanding 12.17 batters per nine, making him a K-rate specialist. However, there is cause for concern when looking at his inability to limit free passes and keep his peripherals in check. He has walked over four hitters per nine and has a FIP of 4.10 through 23.2 innings. However, his strand rate of 83.3% and xFIP rate of 2.95 ease these worries. As a result, Wingenter has been successful and not due to luck. His dominance begs for a promotion. If promoted, he could settle in as a Kirby Yates-type for the Friars, a reliever who strikes batters out a lot but also gives up a few too many walks, by the time the big league season is over. Either way, his future as a good middle relief pitcher looks promising, promising enough to give him a spot among the Missions’ All-Star representatives.
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