When September baseball rolls around, prospect promotions become a wonderful attraction for fans.
The same can be said for the fans of minor league games. That being said, the promotion of Andres Munoz on August 30 must be a welcome sight for those in Fort Wayne.
Munoz was one of the bigger names that the Friars signed in Preller’s first international splash with the team. In exchange for $700,000, San Diego received a right-handed reliever with a 100 mph fastball from Mexico. The bonus was reflective of the elite talent that Fangraphs saw in the young power pitcher.
During the 2015-2016 international signing period, Fangraphs ranked Munoz as the 29th best talent. So far, the results have been mixed and the jury on whether Munoz was a worthy addition, is out.
While 63 strikeouts in 43.2 career innings is extremely juicy, the 18-year-old has struggled immensely with his control.
In 38 games, Munoz has walked a horrid 32 batters. In other words, the young Mexican has compiled an unsightly BB9 rate of 6.7. As a result, his ERA has largely suffered. In 21 games at Tri-City, Munoz threw for a 3.80 earned run average. At best, that just incites a “hmm…okay” response.
His first and only appearance as a TinCap hasn’t been more promising as he gave up a run in one inning. This sample size proves that there is much more to pitching than having one premium pitch. In addition, a player needs to have decent command to avoid increasing the number of base runners and, at the least, another pitch to rely on to keep hitters honest. As such, the old baseball adage of a good pitcher needing to be more than a thrower rings true for Munoz.
However, there some positive signs to Munoz’ development.
In his two professional seasons, the young righty has struck out twice as many hitters as he’s walked. This has allowed him to limit the damage walks can do to his stat line. Also, in 2017 Munoz has thrown for a solid xFIP of ~3.35. XFIP, a number similar to FIP, but utilizes what a pitcher’s capable of, is an important stat to look at when considering the true talent of a prospect. Since Munoz has lowered his xFIP from 4.34 last year, it is evident that he has taken some big steps forward. He is far more capable of progressing through the system now and there is potential for him to make similar advancements each year. As for now, the native Mexican can prove his worth and upside in the last week of minor league ball and then in the Arizona Fall League, which starts on October 10.
Although Andres Munoz has numerous benchmarks to pass, namely refining his command and adding another dominant pitch, before being deemed a long-term piece in the Padres’ organization, he has the upside of an outstanding reliever. Watch for him to make progress in Arizona and beyond as he gets closer to the big leagues. If all goes well, expect him to be a valuable asset to San Diego.