I think Fort Wayne's roster might be my favorite of the bunch. It obviously doesn't have the near major league ready talent of the El Paso roster or quite the high caliber of prospect like Javier Guerra with the Lake Elsinore Storm, but it has other merits. For one, I really like the potential of every guy in this pitching staff and it still has one of the Padres best prospects in both the infield and the outfield. It also has the excitement of being the first full season test for a few of the Padres' recent draft picks. They'll be the first Padres affiliate to kick off their season this afternoon at 3:30 PM PT against Lake County.
To see the entire roster, you can go here: 2016 Fort Wayne Tin Caps roster.
LHP Logan Allen, RHP Enyel De Los Santos, RHP Austin Smith, RHP Jacob Nix, RHP Walker Lockett, RHP Brett Kennedy
Analysis: Logan Allen arrived in the Craig Kimbrel trade after being drafted by the Red Sox in the 8th round last year and really impressing. Enyel De Los Santos was a nice get in the Joaquin Benoit trade and seems to have all the right tools to rise up through the ranks as a future MLB SP. Smith and Nix were Padres' top two selections in the 2015 draft and both will get their first good look in the organization here at Fort Wayne. Lockett has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness, including a rough stint with Fort Wayne last year, but the 2012 4th round pick looks to bounce back after pitching well with Tri-City. Kennedy was an 11th round selection in 2015 who looked pretty good with Tri-City. The season is long for these new professionals and probably all 6 of these guys will be needed in the rotation at different points in the season. It looks like at the start it'll be Lockett, Smith, Kennedy, Nix and De Los Santos taking their turns in the 5 man rotation. Allen may tandem start for a bit and save his innings then get to start some of his own games later in the season.
Best Prospect: Let's not get too concerned with labels and I'll just give you the Sickels comments for Allen, De Los Santos, Smith and Nix.
Age 18, another component of Kimbrel trade, posted 1.11 ERA with 26/1 K/BB over 24 innings in rookie ball and New York-Penn League; eighth round pick in 2015 draft turned out to be much better than expected; low-90s fastball; features curve, slider, change-up, all better than advertised on draft day; command was exceptional in debut. We need more innings at higher levels but overall he does not seem like a fluke to me. Number three starter projection.
De Los Santos:
Age 20, signed by Mariners in 2014 out of Dominican Republic; posted 3.47 ERA with 71/18 K/BB in 62 innings in rookie ball and Northwest League; 1.92 GO/AO; plus fastball as high as 96 with sinking action; solid-average curveball and change-up; command good in debut; acquired in Joaquin Benoit trade. I think this was an absolute steal for the Padres. Deserves way more attention than he gets.
Age 20, third round pick in 2015; posted 5.49 ERA with 19/7 K/BB in 20 innings in rookie ball; plus fastball in 90-95 range with very good life; flashes strong curve and change-up but secondaries are inconsistent, as is his command; needs innings to iron out mechanics; mid-rotation type if the off-speed stuff develops properly.
Age 19, posted 7.94 ERA with 11/9 K/BB in 17 innings in rookie ball; second round pick in 2015; excellent pitcher’s build at athletic 6-4, 220; easy heat at 93-95 but curveball, change-up, and command all need work. Mid-rotation arm if everything comes together.
RHP Jean Cosme, LHP Taylor Cox, RHP Louis Distasio, LHP Will Headean, RHP Phil Maton, RHP Emmanuel Ramirez, RHP Gerardo Reyes
Analysis: Cosme arrived in the Despaigne trade and the Puerto Rican will make his full season debut after struggling a bit in short season. 2014 16th round pick Cox repeats in Low A as the veteran of the staff who can start a little and work in relief. Distasio posted a high K rate and good ERA with Tri Cities last year after being selected in the 32nd round. Headean was drafted a bit higher in the 13th round and also impressed with the whiffs, but in the Padres rookie ball level. Maton was even better with the strikeout than either and came fairly close to recording 2 out of every 3 of his outs as Ks with Tri-City. Ramirez worked his way up threw the Dominican leagues after being an international signing and impressed some in rookie ball last year. He worked as a starter, so maybe he works both roles in 2016. Reyes arrived along with Wil Myers in a trade with the Rays, but missed 2015 with an injury and looks to get on track in 2016.
Best Prospect: Maton is a bit of a sleeper prospect, the 2015 20th round pick by the Padres has defied the odds and is already ranked 22nd in the org by MLBpipeline.com and is also listed as a top 30 guy by Sickels. Meanwhile, Cosme seems to just make the tail end of the Padres' top prospect lists. The former Oriole prospect didn't have stand out stats last year, but his frame is seen as projectable enough to add velocity to his fast ball to go with some already polished control. His breaking pitch shows promise too. Basically, if things can click for him as he matures he could start to move fast.
C Austin Allen, C A.J. Kennedy
Analysis: Kennedy, drafted in the 30th round last year, seems like a nice backup catcher for lower level minor league teams.
Best Prospect: Allen was taken in the 4th round last year by the Padres. His debut didn't stand out, but he's still a nice prospect. There are questions as to whether he's a catcher long term, so the bat better start producing the way scouts project it will. His 6'4" 225 lb frame should be able to generate power.
3B Ty France, SS Ruddy Giron, 2B River Stevens, SS Kodie Tidwell, SS Peter Van Gansen, 1B Brad Zunica
Analysis: A 2015 34th round pick out of SDSU, France looks set to be the team's 3B after a sold season with Tri-City. Giron will repeat at this level and that may be a sign that he could move off of SS at some point or just a sign that he's blocked at Lake Elsinore by Javier Guerra. Stevens returns to the Tin Caps after a year with Lake Elsinore, so things have gone a bit backwards even though his bat seems okay-ish. Tidwell arrives from Tri-City and looks like he might have Stevens-like okay-ish bat. Van Gansen was picked a little higher in the 2015 draft (12th round versus 26th) and might have more promise even though their results were similar. One of them will be in line to take over SS duties should Giron move around (I suspect Van Gansen). Zunica will provide the power for this lineup after the 2015 15th round pick did so with the Tri-City Dust Devils last year.
Best Prospect: Easily Giron. He broke out with the bat last year with the Tin Caps before cooling down a little towards the end. Here's Sickels:
Age 19, hit .285/.335/.407 in Low-A with nine homers, 15 steals, 29 walks, 68 strikeouts in 386 at-bats; in 2014 he hit .168 in rookie ball so 2015 represents enormous improvement; revamped swing and showed greatly improved command of strike zone; not as good with the glove as Guerra but would fit well at second base.
CF Rod Boykin, CF Michael Gettys, LF Jhonatan Pena, OF Luis Tejeda
Analysis: The speedy Boykin arrives in Indiana to challenge Gettys as the team's CF. Gettys will spend his second year with the Tin Caps after being the Padres' 2nd round pick in 2014. Tejada also returns to Fort Wayne and will look to tap into some of the power he showed at lower levels. Don't sleep on Pena, he crushed it with the Padres' rookie league affiliate in Peoria last year and the 21 year old Dominican can really start turning heads if he does the same at a full season league.
Best Prospect: Gettys still has so much upside that he gets the nod even though he has yet to tap into any of it. I'll let Sickels tell you about it:
Age 20; best physical tools in the system; would rate number one on power/speed/throwing arm combination alone. Unfortunately you need more than that. He hit just .231/.271/.346 in Low-A and it was not a fluke; pitch recognition is atrocious and he was overmatched by mediocre Midwest League off-speed stuff. No one will give up on the tools quickly. His arm is at least a 70 and maybe he could pitch if the bat doesn’t work out.