In keeping up with the San Diego Padres, you are very aware that their prospects are the key to the future.
The team is being constructed from the ground floor on up, and what happens in the farm system will surely have a direct effect on the major league team.
I recently wrote a piece that highlighted 14 players that have progressed this season for the club in 2017.
Names like Eric Lauer, Michel Baez, Cal Quantrill, and Fernando Tatis Jr have certainly increased their value by making the needed adjustments. Each player listed is ensuring that the Padres are on the right track towards success.
Unfortunately, not every player within the system is making progress.
There are players who are either stuck in limbo, or have made a step backwards in their growth.
Most of the listed players still have time to pick up their play. One bad season (or half of one) hardly defines a career, but their efforts are definitely worth noting. Thankfully, for the most part, it was difficult to find players to be mentioned on this list. The following 13 are capable of more and the team surely expects better from each and every one of them.
Lake Elsinore Storm
The fact that it is July, and Espinoza has yet to toe the rubber for the Storm, is troubling to say the least. He is supposedly starting a throwing program in Arizona, and all indications are that he should be ready soon to further his advancement. The arm trouble is very concerning, but at the same time he is 19 and the Padres are wise to let him take his time in recovering. In 2016, he more than doubled his workload from any other year pitching. He looked tired at the end of the year by the time the Padres got their hands on him. Perhaps this rest is just what he needs.
If Espinoza can come back this season and make a handful of starts, then the season will not be a total loss. At 19, he is still ahead of schedule pitching in the California League. He has not progressed and that obviously lands him on this list. I do have to make note that I ranked Espinoza as the Padres’ #1 prospect recently. I still believe in the kid and, until I hear differently about his arm, he is still my top prospect in this system.
Recently, Guerra has been picking it up in Lake Elsinore (13-42 .310 batting average with two homers/nine RBI in last 10 games). That is certainly great to see, as he has struggled to find consistency as a Padre. He came over from the Red Sox as arguably the best prospect attained, and has now fallen behind Manuel Margot and Logan Allen in terms of value, and even Carlos Asuaje has shown his worth by making the Padres and playing reasonably well.
Guerra is still only 21, so to write him off would be foolish. The talent is there. He has a great power-producing, left-handed bat and is capable of being an above-average shortstop. The infielder has been working very hard. He has often taken extra batting practice before the game in an attempt to refine his approach at the plate. The Padres are not concerned yet about his development, but he has to make better strides in the near future.
Fort Wayne TinCaps
I really enjoy speaking to this young man. He has struggled with his fastball command though, and has regressed a bit in 2017. Smith can be wild in the zone with his mid 90’s fastball. He is learning that he cannot simply blow batters away at the professional level. The big right-hander is perfecting the art of pitching and is doing so throwing out of the bullpen in Tri-City, pitching for the Dust Devils.
The ceiling is still very high for this 21-year-old, and though he has indeed regressed a bit, the team still has hopes he can find it. Smith has an excellent body for pitching and a smooth repeatable motion. It just may take him some time to find himself in the game of baseball. He has looked really good in Tri-City and seems to be improving his command.
The 17-year-old had a bad start to the year in Fort Wayne, and that is why he is on this list. He hit .206 in 180 at bats while striking out 51 times. The team sent him to the AZL, where he is presently hitting .426 in his first 11 games with the AZL Padres 2. Rosario was very young for the Mid West league (the youngest player in the league), so perhaps his struggles were not a surprise.
The right-handed-hitting second baseman runs very well and has a very decent hit tool. He is only 5′ 9″, so his total power upside is completely limited at this point. The man could develop power in time, but that really remains to be seen. Expect him to get another shot at Fort Wayne, or perhaps a trip to Tri City is in order. Rosario is one to keep an eye on in the next few seasons. He could very easily progress, as he has a great feel for the game of baseball.
The teams’ second-round pick in 2016 (48th overall) is still struggling with the bat, though he has shown some more power of late. Reed battled injuries early in the year, but has still played 39 games for the TinCaps. The speedy center fielder has put up a .246/.323/.380 batting line with two homers and 12 RBI, while striking out 49 times in 142 at bats. At 22 and playing in the Mid West League, the Padres probably envisioned him progressing a little faster, but they will remain patient.
Reed plays excellent defense in center, where he uses his impressive speed to get great jumps on the ball in the gaps. He has a plus arm as well and will likely remain in center as he matures through the system. A promotion to Lake Elsinore will probably coincide with Michael Gettys being sent to Double-A. Both players are nearly ready for the jump, but still need some work with their approach at the plate. The switch-hitting Reed is relatively new to the game of baseball and his tools could emerge rather suddenly.
Acquired from the Blue Jays for Melvin Upton Jr. late last year, this right-handed pitcher came with a pretty decent ceiling. He has struggled a bit at Fort Wayne this year in his 17 games (10 starts). Rodriguez has gone 3-8 with a 4.97 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in 67 innings. He has a very good fastball, but struggles with repeating his mechanics and also needs to work on his off-speed pitches.
At 20, there is still plenty of time for this young man. Sure, he has not taken a step forward so far this 2017 season, but that does not mean he cannot be a productive player for the team eventually. He has good size and great arm speed. His future might be in the bullpen if he is unable to remain in the rotation.
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