Halloween has come and gone, the Houston Astros are World Series Champions, and all is right with the world. Well, except for the whole “Padres being bad” thing. But that seems to be going in the right direction.
Coming off a 2017 season in which the Padres won 71 games and finished fourth in a very good National League West, it’s clear the Padres still have work to do to keep up with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and even the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. Finishing above the San Francisco Giants was nice, although missing out on a top-five draft pick probably wasn’t what was expected going into the season.
However, there is no doubting there was some positive development on the big league roster in 2017. Despite being predicted to be a 60-win team, the Padres somehow managed 71 games behind manager Andy Green. It’s hard to really quantify the effect managers have on teams, but it seems the Padres responded well in the second year of Green’s tenure.
Despite the plethora of big league storylines that came to the forefront this past season, the minor leagues are still the hottest conversation topic among Padres fans. Coming off a season in which Fernando Tatis Jr. rose into top prospect status, and hordes of other young players took big steps forward, the future looks very bright in San Diego. To better quantify the state of the Padres’ organization, we will be beginning an organizational review here at East Village Times. Over the course of the offseason, we will be taking a look at every part of the Padres’ organization, from every minor league team to all the best players by each position, as well as the coaches that help make all that success happen.
To begin the organizational review, let’s go team by team and take a quick look at each minor league affiliate’s 2017 season.
We could probably split this into two sections because the Padres had two Arizona Rookie League teams, but let’s make it simple and discuss them both together here. While the AZL Padres 1 team finished the season 25-31, the AZL Padres 2 finished the season 30-25. However, neither team was able to make the Arizona League playoffs. The AZL Padres 1 was led offensively by Jeisson Rosario, Jordy Barley, and Jonny Homza, while the AZL Padres 2 was led by Mason House, Luis Campusano, Tirso Ornelas, Eguy Rosario, and more. On the pitching side, Luis Patino and MacKenzie Gore are the biggest names of note, but the likes of Cole Bellinger, Vijay Miller, and a few others also had successful seasons on the mound for the AZL Padres’ two affiliates. The sheer volume of teenaged talent spread over not just the two AZL Padres teams, but also the Low and High-A affiliates, demonstrates the noteworthy depth in the Padres’ system.
Tri-City Dust Devils
Although there was plenty of intrigue throughout the Padres’ minor league system, the Tri-City Dust Devils may have been the most intriguing team of all, given their youth. At times, it seemed like the Padres had at least two or three of the youngest players in all of professional baseball playing on their team. The Dust Devils faded away late after a strong start, but there were still plenty of highlights to write home about. To show just how young the Dust Devils were, there were two players born in 1999 on the roster, as well as four born in 1998 and more than that born in 1997. At some points, the Padres had 17-year-olds playing professional baseball. Led by Luis Almanzar, Kelvin Melean, and a plethora of other teenaged talents, the Dust Devils show the Padres’ farm system will be deep for years to come.
Fort Wayne TinCaps
You can’t really talk about the Fort Wayne TinCaps’ season without gushing about Fernando Tatis Jr. However, I feel that there has been enough gushing about him for now, plus there will be plenty once we get to the shortstop section of this series. Beyond Tatis, there was all sorts of talent calling Fort Wayne home. From exceptional pitchers like Michel Baez, Pedro Avila, and Adrian Morejon, to rising talents like Hudson Potts and Brad Zunica, among others, it was a bright year for the Padres’ Low-A affiliate. It was a disappointing end to the season, which wasn’t helped by the promotion of Tatis to Double-A, but 2018 should be another successful season in Fort Wayne.
Lake Elsinore Storm
This is no knock against the Storm, but the Lake Elsinore Storm was easily the least watchable Padres’ minor league team. Despite starting the season with a significant depth of pitching talent, such as Cal Quantrill, Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi, and Jacob Nix, all four ended up in Double-A before the season was through. Sure, Logan Allen gave fans something to watch after those guys had moved up, but it was not the same. Beyond the pitching staff, Austin Allen and Rod Boykin were probably the most watchable players in what was a pretty weak team by Cal League standards. With that being said, there is a lot of talent at the lower levels of the Padres’ system, so 2018 should be a better year in Lake Elsinore.
San Antonio Missions
Moving on to the most successful of the Padres’ minor league affiliates, the San Antonio Missions were truly a pleasure to watch in 2018. Not only did the Missions start off the season strongly, but they also kept it up throughout the season and only seemed to get better as the days wore on. By the end of the season, Fernando Tatis Jr., Josh Naylor, Cal Quantrill, Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Jacob Nix, and others had joined the likes of Enyel De Los Santos, Luis Urias, Franmil Reyes, and others, making the Missions one of the most dangerous teams in the entire Texas League. A lot of those guys will probably end up in Triple-A next year, but there still should be plenty of talent in the lower levels to fill out the Missions’ roster successfully next year.
El Paso Chihuahuas
Not much can be said about the El Paso Chihuahuas’ 2017 season that wasn’t said about the Lake Elsinore Storm’s season. The Pacific Coast League is obviously where pitching goes to die, and that was readily apparent with how the Chihuahuas’ staff fared. However, there were some important bright spots on offense, as Franchy Cordero and Hunter Renfroe both continued to rake after having struggles at the big league level. There were also some bright spots, with some journeyman players such as Christian Villanueva that could prove important to the Padres’ 2018 plans. With the sheer level of talent the Padres housed in Double-A in 2017, El Paso is going to be a fun place to watch baseball in 2018.
For our first installment of the organizational review series, we will be looking at the relief pitchers in the Padres’ system. Stay tuned.