Most professional baseball leagues are at their midpoint, and it’s common for teams to promote players who stood out in the first half and have earned a promotion. The Padres have stated an intent to be aggressive in advancing players who have demonstrated that they’re ready, regardless of age. This is starting to be very apparent, as some young players are starting to move quickly through the minors. The following moves have all happened since the start of July:
El Paso Chihuahuas (AAA):
- San Diego Padres sent Chase d'Arnaud outright to El Paso Chihuahuas. The camera-friendly d’Arnaud has endeared himself with plenty of fans, and he’s been pretty good with the glove, but his bat (7 for 49, 3 XBH) just isn’t of MLB caliber. After being claimed off waivers three times this season, he cleared waivers and will provide some much-welcomed depth in El Paso.
- RHP Kyle Lloyd assigned to El Paso Chihuahuas from San Antonio Missions. The late bloomer had a bit of a breakout season in 2016 which carried into 2017. The cherry on his season has to be the no-hitter he threw in May, inducing 17 groundouts on the way to a 94-pitch Maddux. If some starters get traded from the big league club, Lloyd might get a chance to jump into the big kid pool.
San Antonio Missions (AA):
- RHP Cesar Vargas assigned to San Antonio Missions from El Paso Chihuahuas. Vargas has been rehabbing from elbow issues while staying away from the knife. He’s been used a couple of innings at a time, rather than the starter’s role he had last year prior to injury. He had been pitching to great success in San Antonio until his promotion to AAA in early June, but the notoriously tough PCL chewed him up. Perhaps this is a move to get him back into a more comfortable environment while he builds strength.
- San Antonio Missions released RHP Charles Nading. The Padres took a flier on Nading in May, signing him from an unaffiliated league. A few bad outings inflated his ERA, which happens easily for a reliever, but the coaches and scouts must have decided that the big leagues weren’t in the 30-year-old’s future. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Padres in 2010, only to be released the following spring.
- San Diego Padres sent LHP Buddy Baumann on a rehab assignment to San Antonio Missions. The lefty journeyman has been fighting back issues since spring of 2016. Having a spot on the 40-man roster, he may be a candidate for assignment if the rehab doesn’t bring him back up to full health.
- LHP Joey Lucchesi assigned to San Antonio Missions from Lake Elsinore Storm. Okay, here’s the start of the good stuff. Many considered Eric Lauer to be the quickest riser of the 2016 draft class, but Lucchesi could actually be the first to see The Show. After being named both a Baseball America Northwest League All-Star and a Northwest League All-Star for the Tri-City Dust Devils last year, he posted a 2.52 ERA across 14 starts, striking out nearly 11 hitters per nine innings pitched. Expect to see the tall lefty with the herky-jerky windup continue to rise, possibly cracking the Padres’ rotation some time in 2018.
- 1B Josh Naylor assigned to San Antonio Missions from Lake Elsinore Storm. The other day, Josh Naylor was ripping a 99mph fastball for an RBI single (ignore the TOOTBLAN) at the MLB All-Star Futures Game, his second appearance in the event in two years. Now the 20-year-old is going to double-A after posting an impressive .297/.361/.452 through 72 games. His placement in advanced single-A by the Padres after his acquisition was criticized last year, but he’s now proven himself ready for the next step.
- RHP Cal Quantrill assigned to San Antonio Missions from Lake Elsinore Storm. When he was drafted, Quantrill set some high goals for himself, and he’s doing everything right to try to achieve them. His 3.67 ERA across 14 starts is even more impressive when you look at his game log and see that he’s been touched up for five earned runs in three of those starts. He’s consistently been minimizing damage and going deep into games. Since he’s building up strength from Tommy John surgery in March of 2015, he might get shut down by the end of the season, but he’s earned the promotion and is a bright part of the Padres’ future picture.
Lake Elsinore Storm (advanced single-A):
- RHP Trevor Frank assigned to Lake Elsinore Storm from El Paso Chihuahuas. Selected in the minor league phase of last December’s Rule 5 draft, Frank is an El Cajon native, and at age 26 could be a bullpen candidate later this year. He locked the California League down earlier in the season to the tune of a 2.53 ERA. His short stint in AAA was probably the result of roster shuffles at other levels.
- 1B/DH Fernando Perez assigned to Lake Elsinore Storm from San Antonio Missions. The Enseñada native hit .212/.279/.302 in San Antonio, so a demotion is understandable. At age 23, he’s been in the Padres system since 2012, so his time may be running out.
- Lake Elsinore Storm placed CF Michael Gettys on the 7-day disabled list with a shoulder injury from an on-field collision. The toolsy outfielder is having a nice season as he repeats the level, hitting .262/.333/.430, doing cool things like homering thrice in a game and stealing 16 bases, but also doing uncool things like striking 35% of the time.
- LF Rod Boykin assigned to Lake Elsinore Storm from Fort Wayne TinCaps. The 22-year-old was drafted by the Padres in 2012 and was hitting .249/.329/.415 at the time of his promotion. He may have been promoted to fill in at centerfield while Gettys is on the mend.
- RHP Adrian De Horta assigned to Lake Elsinore Storm from Fort Wayne TinCaps. The 22-year-old righty gave up 12 earned runs in five starts for the TinCaps while struggling late in his appearances, so he’s taking a step back, and for good reason.
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Single-A):
- LF Tyler Benson assigned to Fort Wayne TinCaps from Tri-City Dust Devils. The first kid from the 2017 draft to get called up to full-season ball, Benson went 6-for-17 with three walks in the Tri-Cities while playing in both outfield corners.
- RHP Michel Baez assigned to Fort Wayne TinCaps from AZL Padres. All he’s done since is scatter three hits across 11 innings while striking out 16 hapless hitters in two dominating starts. The enormous (6’8”, 240lb) Cuban was signed to a $5million deal last winter and was a relative unknown at the time, but his big fastball is clearly a weapon to be reckoned with.
Tri-City Dust Devils (Short-season Single-A):
- RHP Trevor Megill assigned to Tri-City Dust Devils from Lake Elsinore Storm. Megill got rocked in two relief appearances with Lake Elsinore after a brief promotion on July 5th from the Arizona Rookie League. He was drafted in 2015 and showed promise as he made his pro debut that summer, but he missed all of the 2016 season with a litany of injuries.
It’s an exciting time of year in the minors as guys shuffle up and down through the organization. Expect to see more of this action as the Padres’ player development staff starts to weed out the rosters to make room for the flood of guys from the 2016 & 2017 draft and signing bonanzas.