Minor league opening day is today and the TinCaps will kick off the season for the Padres' minor league affiliates at 4:05 PT. They announced their roster a couple todays ago, so I am a bit slow on the draw here, but better late than never. As expected, the roster is full of players taken in last year's draft plus a number of up-and-coming Dominican prospects who have worked their way up through the even lower minor leagues. There are a lot of birthdates from 1993-1995.
- Franchy Cordero has been a hot name in the baseball prospecting business lately and Sickels ranked him 10th in the Padres organization with a B- grade. Scouts marvel at his sweet stroke and it really produced last year with the Padres' Peoria (AZ) short season rookie ball affiliate. Hit hit .333/.381/.511 there with just 3 HRs in 35 games, but 6 triples. He stole 11 bases without being caught once. He is also a rare left-handed hitter out of the Dominican Republic. He will be 19 this season and might be moving to 3B from SS.
- 2013 2nd round pick Dustin Peterson was ranked 14th and given a solid B- grade. He has previously been listed as a 3B, but I have heard that he would be a more natural fit for 2B. We shall see which position he starts at. He had a solid debut with Peoria, but went homerless. He needs to show some more pop after this promotion.
- RF Franmil Reyes will play his first play in his first full season league for the TinCaps. Sickels ranked him 20th in the Padres org with a C+ grade. He has worked his way up from the Padres' Dominican facility, through the Peoria rookie league team and even had a cup of coffee with the Eugene Emeralds last year. He has shown a good, patient bat since signing, but at 6'5 240 lbs, I think many would like to see the 18 year old hit with some more power.
- SS Josh Van Meter got an honorable mention in the Sickels list. However, the 2013 5th round pick ranked 14th on Keith Law's list so there are some out there with a little more faith. He will hold down the SS position for Fort Wayne that displaced Cordero, but with good reason as he is very advanced defensively for a 19 year old. The bat will need to improve though and that is why reports are mixed. The TinCaps point out that he is an Indiana native playing near home this season, which is a first for the organization among position players.
- RHP Walker Weickel also got an honorable mention after being ranked 12th in 2013 with a B- grade. He is repeating at Fort Wayne after tossing over 100 innings for the club last season. The 20 year old unfortunately put up an ERA over 5.00 in those innings. He will toe the slab for the opener today.
- Another starter pitcher with an honorable mention is RHP Adrian De Horta. The 19 year old 2013 8th round pick out of a West Covina California HS is a bit a sleeper here. This is the first I have seen him mentioned on a Padres prospect list and it will be his debut season in a full season league. He is a starting pitcher and will join Weickel in the rotation.
- RHP Pete Kelich dominated Peoria last year. In 13 games (10 starts) he struck out 69 over 58 innings and only gave up 1 walk and 1 home run. That was good for a 1.40 ERA and even got himself a CG and a save in that short season. Sickels gave him an honorable mention. He will be another rotation candidate.
- 19 year old Mexican OF rounds out the honorable mentions by Sickels. He will make his full season league debut here and look to show that his numbers in the lower minors are for real. 9 HRs in 49 games for Peoria opened some eyes.
In addition to the ones Sickels highlighted, I would like to highlight a few others:
- RHP Bryan Verbitsky was the Padres 2013 3rd round pick out of Hofstra University. He will begin the season on the DL, but expect him to join the rotation once healthy.
- Before last season, Baseball Prospectus gave some love to 6'7" 210 lb RHP Tayron Guerrero. He impressed prospect writer Jason Parks on the backfields at Peoria and was a listed as a "Prospect to see" at Fort Wayne. He had control issues at Fort Wayne and got demoted last year, but the 23 year old Colombian will get more chances to control that big frame and show that his power stuff can play.
- RHP Andrew Lockett impressed Keith Law enough to get ranked as the Padres' 9th best prospect by him. Others are not nearly as high on him mainly because he has not pitched much since being taken in the 4th round of the 2012 draft. I would expect to get him some relief work early or short outings as a starter to try to build up his stamina.
- C Dane Phillips was mentioned in Sickels' 2012 Padres Prospects list, but got passed by this year. Despite being a Midwest League All Star and getting a cup of coffee with Lake Elsinore last year, he is being held back in low A. Look for him to have another solid year and earn a promotion.
- CF Mallex Smith was mentioned as a "Prospect to see" for Lake Elsinore this year by Baseball Prospectus, but due to a logjam of OFs for the Storm he will repeat at Fort Wayne. He is a excellent base stealer and has a chance to top his 64 SBs from last season. MLB.com's Jim Callis recently said Smith could end up with more SBs than fellow Padres farmhand Travis Jankowski who had 71 last season.