Today is finally Opening Day of the 2017 MLB season. After what seems like years of waiting, the San Diego Padres will finally play meaningful baseball in 2017 starting at one o’clock against the Los Angeles Dodgers. While the big league team may be rough to watch this season, the Padres have a lot of talent in the minor leagues to keep an eye on. Nowhere is that more true than in Fort Wayne, where the Padres have several of their top prospects set to kick off their season next Saturday for the TinCaps.
With the Padres 25-man roster being announced on Saturday morning, the Padres minor league rosters are coming into clearer focus. On Sunday afternoon, the Padres made their low-A Fort Wayne TinCaps roster official. Headlined by five of the Padres top-30 prospects, the TinCaps could be one of the very best low-A teams in all of baseball, as the Padres acquisitions, high draft picks, and international signings will start to trickle into full season ball this year.
The TinCaps roster is headlined by young shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who, despite being just 18 years old, is ranked as one of the top 50 prospects in all of baseball. Alongside him are other top-30 prospects right fielder Jorge Ona, infielder Hudson Potts, left-handed pitcher Logan Allen, and outfielder Buddy Reed.
Behind the plate, the TinCaps young pitching staff will be caught by the duo of Marcus Greene Jr. and Webster Rivas. After an impressive off-season in both the Arizona Fall League and the Australian Baseball League, Greene Jr. will look to further improve his prospect stock and accelerate quickly through the system.
In the infield, the TinCaps will have Reinaldo Ilarraza, Hudson Sanchez, Eguy Rosario, Fernando Tatis Jr., G.K. Young, and Brad Zunica. Obviously Potts and Tatis Jr. will be worth watching given their high prospect status, but third baseman Eguy Rosario is another young talent who could turn some heads in the low levels of the Padres system. In addition, first baseman Brad Zunica will look to build off a strong 2016 season spent in Fort Wayne.
In the outfield, the TinCaps will have only four outfielders on their opening day roster, including the previously mentioned Ona and Reed, as well as 2016 draft pick Jack Suwinski and Rod Boykin. Both Ona and Reed will look to prove their worth to the Padres brass, and both could move up to the next level quickly if they impress in the early season, although both have a great deal of work to do to reach that potential.
Finally to the most interesting part of the TinCaps roster: the pitching staff. At least to start off the 2017 season, the TinCaps will be absolutely loaded with pitching. Led by top prospect Logan Allen, the TinCaps will also have names such as Jerry Keel, Hansel Rodriguez, Jesse Scholtens, Ben Sheckler, and Austin Smith, with many other pitchers beyond those. Of that group, the trio of Scholtens, Sheckler, and Smith are all worth watching as potential starters who could improve their stocks, and the Padres will also be keeping their eyes on Rodriguez, who the Padres acquired in the trade that sent Melvin Upton to the Toronto Blue Jays at last year’s trade deadline.
All in all, the Fort Wayne TinCaps will once again be a team to watch in 2017. With the sheer magnitude of money the Padres spent on international talent and the amateur draft, the team was bound to have lots of young talent in the lower levels of the system in 2017. The TinCaps Opening Day roster demonstrates that fact very clearly.
For full roster details, the TinCaps full roster has been listed on the team website on milb.com.