With less than a week remaining in the minor league season, the minor league playoffs are just around the corner.
As it currently stands, it appears that most of the Padres’ minor league affiliates will be making the playoffs.
The El Paso Chihuahuas, San Antonio Missions, Fort Wayne TinCaps, and Tri-City Dust Devils have all clinched playoff spots or appear poised to clinch.
Despite the playoffs not yet starting, attention has already turned to the Arizona Fall League, which, as always, will begin following the conclusion of the minor and major league seasons.
The opening slate of games is currently scheduled for Tuesday, October 10, with the Padres sending seven players to represent them on the Peoria Javelinas.
Padres in the Arizona Fall League: Luis Urias, Javier Guerra, Walker Lockett, Josh Naylor, T.J. Weir, Andres Munoz, David Bednar
— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) August 29, 2017
So as it currently stands, the Padres will have Luis Urias, Javier Guerra, Walker Lockett, Josh Naylor, T.J. Weir, Andres Munoz (who was just recently promoted from the Dust Devils to the TinCaps), and David Bednar representing the Padres’ organization on the Peoria Javelinas, a team that has a roster that consists of players from the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, and Seattle Mariners, as well as the Padres. On top of that, outfielder Franmil Reyes will be a reserve if needed.
For those who don’t know how the Arizona Fall League works, each Major League organization is required to provide at least six players for the league, with the following rules for player eligibility:
1) Any Double or Triple-A player is eligible for selection if they are on the Double-A roster by August 1
2) One player below the Double-A level is allowed per team
3) One foreign player is allowed, as long as that player does not reside in a foreign country with a winter league.
4) No players with more than one year of Major League service time as of August 31, although a team is allowed to have one Rule-5 player from the most recent Rule-5 draft.
5) Players on disabled lists must be activated at least 45 days prior to conclusion of team’s season to be eligible.
So there are quite a few rules that go into player eligibility and selecting players for the various teams in the league. With those rules in mind, the Padres have four players from Double-A in Urias, Guerra, Weir, and Naylor, as well as one player from Triple-A in Walker Lockett, and two players from High and Low-A respectively in Bednar and Munoz. So Bednar would be the one representative below Double-A while Munoz fits in as the one foreign player who is eligible.
Among these players, there are some interesting guys who should be fun to watch this fall. Luis Urias is probably the biggest name of the bunch, as he is slashing .299/.400/.385 with a 126 wRC+ this season and is rated as one of the best prospects in the entire Padres system. Urias has obviously had some struggles in the second half of the season after he missed some time with an injury, so it appears the Padres hope he uses that extra playing time in order to make up for the time he missed. With a strong performance this fall, Urias could start next season in Triple-A and be well on his way to being a late-season big league call-up next year.
Next up is shortstop Javier Guerra, who has continued to struggle following his call up to Double-A in late July. At the time many Padres fans were surprised at Guerra’s promotion to Double-A, but given the rules of the Arizona Fall League, it makes perfect sense why they made the move when they did. It’s apparent they wanted Guerra to get some added playing time this fall in the AFL, and after slashing just .189/.244/.297 since that call-up, it’s clear he needs all the extra playing time he can get.
Josh Naylor is another interesting name, as he has exceeded expectations this year on his way to being called up to Double-A and being one of the youngest players in the Texas League. After posting a 119 wRC+ in 72 games with the Lake Elsinore Storm, Naylor got off to a solid start with the Missions before cooling off as of late. The big concern with Naylor has been his lack of in-game power, as he has only hit 10 home runs on the season, although his total offensive performance has dipped over the last month, as his wRC+ sits at just 49 since August 1. The AFL will be a good chance for the 20-year-old to continue to work on both his in-game power and his defensive prowess over at first base.
The last Double-A player on the Peoria Javelinas’ roster from the Padres’ organization is right-hander T.J. Weir, who has posted a 2.01 ERA in 53.2 innings pitched in Double-A following a successful stint with the High-A Storm at the beginning of the season. Weir has maintained strong strikeout rates with low walk rates and has been one of the more successful relief pitchers in the entire system.
Moving up to Triple-A, right-hander Walker Lockett will also be on the AFL roster. Given that Lockett has missed significant time with injury this season, as he has only thrown just over 60 innings this year, he will use the AFL as a sort of extended season to get some more work in. If Lockett can get back on track this fall, he could eventually find his way to San Diego at some point next season.
Last, but not least, are two more relief pitchers in the lower levels of the Padres’ system; right-handers David Bednar and Andres Munoz. Drafted last year way down in the 35th round, David Bednar has been a pretty pleasant surprise for the Padres this season. After 33 and two-thirds stellar innings with the TinCaps, with a strikeout rate over 13 batters per nine innings and an ERA below 2.00, Bednar has run into some trouble in Lake Elsinore over the last few months. Despite some struggles, Bednar has still maintained a good strikeout to walk ratio and he should benefit greatly from more playing time this fall.
Andres Munoz is an 18-year-old with a 100-plus mph fastball that was just promoted to Fort Wayne from Tri-City. At just 18, it is pretty impressive that Munoz not only throws the ball so hard, but also has done enough to earn himself a promotion to full season ball at such a young age. Munoz still has some pretty significant walk issues, as he has walked over 15 percent of batters he has faced this year, but his strikeout rate is more than double his walk rate, which allows him to get by and have success in spite of the walks. This fall will be a big step in his development, although it will be important to see how he adjusts to pitching in Fort Wayne the rest of the season, and potentially into the postseason, before he gets to Arizona.
As has been the case in years past, the San Diego Padres will have no shortage of prospect talent to represent the organization in the Arizona Fall League as part of the Peoria Javelinas. In Urias, Guerra, Naylor, Weir, Lockett, Bednar, and Munoz, there will be plenty to watch this fall.