As we look ahead to next Spring, it may be useful to keep an eye on some young players who may be a part of the Padres’ MLB plans next year and beyond. The Arizona Fall League concluded last weekend, and several Padres players competed on the Peoria Javelinas team. Meanwhile, more players are starting their Winter League seasons in Mexico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. Since many of the Fall League players will be off the field until spring, it’s a good time to see how they did, and what’s going on in the Winter Leagues.
The Peoria Javelinas finished the season at the bottom of their division, but win-loss records aren’t as important as player development in such a league. The Padres representatives on this team were pitchers Kyle McGrath, Jason Jester, Phil Maton, Brad Wieck, and Jose Torres, outfielders Franchy Cordero and Michael Gettys, and infielder Josh VanMeter. These players break down as follows:
- Kyle McGrath, 24, LHRP. 3.71 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 11 K’s, 3 BB’s, 17 IP. A strong showing after a good 2016 season in AAA for a reliever who may be in a competition next spring for a spot in the Padres bullpen.
- Jason Jester, 25, RHRP. 0.71 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 13 K’s, 5 BB’s, 12.2 IP. Jester struggled in AAA after dominating in AA in 2016, but he will also get a look in spring training.
- Phil Maton, 23, RHRP. 2.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 15 K’s, 1 BB’s, 12.1 IP. That K:BB ratio is impressive, and after climbing from single-A to AAA with a combined 1.74 ERA, Maton is a strong candidate for the Padres bullpen.
- Brad Wieck, 25, LHP. 6.57 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 19 K’s, 11 BB’s, 12.1 IP. He led the team in strikeouts, but he also led the team in walks. A bad showing in the fall league after a really strong 2016, Wieck converted from a starter to a reliever in 2016, posting a 1.17 ERA across 41 appearances between high-A and AA.
- Jose Torres, 23, LHRP. 2.16 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 6 K’s, 5 BB’s, 8.1 IP. The K:BB ratio isn’t great, but he was effective. In limited MLB time last September he impressed with three scoreless innings showing both power and movement. Expect to see Torres at Petco at some point next year.
- Franchy Cordero, 22, OF. .203/.272/.282. Cordero struggled to make hard contact while racking up the K’s. The former shortstop has drawn positive reviews as a centerfielder but is clearly a work in progress. His addition to the 40-man roster adds pressure for the big lefty-hitting slugger to start producing soon.
- Michael Gettys, 21, CF. .157/.224/.329. The toolsy Gettys struggled at the plate but made enough of an impact to be named to the Arizona League All-Star Game. He showed great improvement at both single-A levels in 2016. Hopefully he can continue this progress at the next level, but this fall’s performance is a sign that he’s still quite raw.
- Josh VanMeter, 21, IF. .265/.418/.362. The defensively flexible VanMeter showed excellent discipline at the plate and finished with a seven-game hitting streak. After moving up to AA last season, he’ll likely start there again next year.
Among those currently playing in the international Winter Leagues are the following familiar players:
- Carlos Asuaje: hitting .241/343/.278 through 21 games in the DR.
- Manuel Margot: hitting .286/.317/.408 with seven stolen bases through 24 games in the DR, but he’s in a seven game hitting streak where he’s 11-for-28 with two home runs.
- Cesar Vargas: Recovering from injury, Vargas has made four relief appearances in Mexico as he continues his rehab in hopes of rejoining the Padres rotation.
- Jose Rondon: hitting .275/.347/.429 with a home, three triples, and five doubles in Venezuela.
- Keith Hessler: working in the DR to secure a spot next year, Hessler has a 3.72 ERA through 9.2 innings of relief with 7 K’s and 4 BB’s.
- Jose Ruiz: the mystery man of the 40-man roster additions, Ruiz has made one pitching appearance in Venezuela, giving up two earned runs in one inning, registering one strikeout and one walk.