I know this post is late, and the Missions are nearly a week into the season, but here’s a look at who we should be watching in Double-A this season.
Padres’ relievers Adam Cimber and Kyle McGrath (currently in AAA), and starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi, all spent significant chunks of time in San Antonio in 2017. The 2018 Missions feature a talented roster with plenty of players who could find themselves with the big club in 2019, or sooner.
Eleven of the players were acquired through the draft, six via trade, and eight as international signees. In all, the Storm have thirteen international players representing Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Austin Allen, the Padres #29 prospect, moves up after a solid offensive season in Single-A. The 24 year old is considered a bat-first prospect (.849 OPS in 2017) who might not stick behind the dish long-term (decent 21 CS%). The 2015 4th rounder tied for second—Fernando Tatis Jr.—among Padres’ minor leaguers with 22 homers last season. He’s already gone yard twice this season—both solo shots—as part of his 4-for-15 start.
All eyes are on Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres’ top prospect, and a consensus top-10 prospect in all of baseball. The Padres acquired Tatis—relatively unknown at the time—from the White Sox in exchange for James Shields and over $30 Million. Tatis, who MLB.com had as the 30th-ranked international prospect when he signed with the White Sox for $700k in 2015, effectively became the first piece of the Padres’ 2016 international signing binge. The Dominican Republic native absolutely exploded in 2017, mashing 22 bombs, swiping 32 bags and delivering a .877 OPS while jumping from Fort Wayne to San Antonio. At 19 years old, he’s the youngest player in the Texas League, with plenty of development left. He started the season 0-for-12, but went for 3-for-5 with 2 RBI on Sunday.
First baseman Josh Naylor, acquired from the Marlins in the 2016 Andrew Cashner trade, saw his start fade a bit last year. As recently as 2016, the 20 year old Canadian was a top-100 prospect in all of baseball, and a top-10 first base prospect. He has an advanced approach at the plate, slashing .297/.361/.452 in 313 PA for the Storm last season. Naylor checks in at #16 on the Padres’ top-30, but he’ll have to improve on his 10 HR—in 439 AB at A+/AA—or see his ranking tumble again in 2018. So far, he’s done just that, going 9-for-16, with 3 HR and 10 RBI in the first four games.
2015 draft picks Ty France (34th round), Kyle Overstreet (14th round) and Peter Van Gansen (12th round), and 2012 9th rounder River Stevens, complete the infield. France, the Missions’ starting third baseman and former SDSU Aztec, owns a career .381 OBP in the minors. Overstreet, who had a .834 OPS in 215 PA at Lake Elsinore in 2017, provides depth at catcher and first base, and has already a logged a game at both positions. Van Gansen is the starting second baseman, while Stevens offers incredible versatility having logged time at every single position (including facing three batters as a pitcher) in 2017.
Center fielder Michael Gettys, a former 2nd round pick in 2014, currently holds the final spot in the Padres’ top-30 prospect list. The 22 year old is an easy four tool talent—plus speed and defense, an elite arm, emerging power—but has so far been held back by an inconsistent bat and extreme platoon split. In 2017, he had an outstanding split against southpaws—.318/.383/.553 in 94 PA—but struck out an ungodly 166 times in 419 PA against righties. In 2018, his solid start, .364/.417/.636 in 12 PA, hides the fact that he’s struck out in 4-of-7 PA against righties, and 6 times overall.
The Missions will feature two of the Padres’ top-30 prospects at the front of the rotation: RHP Cal Quantril (#4), and LHP Logan Allen (#8). The Padres will no doubt expect a lot from Quantril, who they drafted 8th overall in 2016. The former Stanford Cardinal is now three full years removed from Tommy John surgery and has been passed up by fellow 2016 draft picks, Eric Lauer (AAA) and Joey Lucchesi (MLB). Quantril throws an elite changeup off his mid-90’s fastball, but it’s the development of his slider and curve that determines just how good he can be. In his first start of the year, he struckout 4, and only allowed 2 hits, but walked 5, limiting himself to 3.2 innings.
Logan Allen had only thrown 24.1 professional innings when he was acquired along with Javy Guerra, Carlos Asuaje and Manny Margot in the Craig Kimbrel trade. After an injury-plagued 2016, Allen exploded in a big way last year. In 13 starts for the TinCaps he had 11.2 K/9 and only allowed one home run in 68.1 IP. Allen finished off the season as the youngest pitcher to appear in three or more games in the California League. He had 57 strikeouts, 18 walks and allowed two home runs in 56.2 IP for the Storm. At 20 years old, Allen is extremely advanced for his age. He looked solid on Saturday, striking out 6, allowing 1 hit, but walking 4 in 5.0 innings.
2016 Rule 5 draft pick, Miguel Diaz, returns to minor league action after spending 2017 in the Padres’ bullpen. The 23 year old right hander had a 1.18 WHIP with 3.2 K/BB in 94.2 IP at Single-A in 2016. He was, unsurprisingly, over matched in the bigs, posting a 7.02 FIP in 41.2 IP. But, the Padres selected Diaz for his potential as a starting pitcher, so 2018 is an important season as he stretches out in the Missions rotation. His first appearance for the Missions came in relief of LHP Matt Strahm (on a rehab assignment), and he went 2.1 innings, striking out 5, walking 3 and allowing 2 hits.
A pair of 9th round selections, LHP Jerry Keel (2015), and RHP Jesse Scholtens (2016), fill out the starting five. The 24 year old Keel struck out 9, walked 1 and allowed 7 hits in 5.0 innings in his first start of the year.
Two left handed relievers, Jose Castillo and Brad Wieck, could see action at the major league level this season, due to their status on the 40-man roster. Both players joined the 40-man this offseason as protection from the Rule 5 Draft. Castillo, a 22 year old left hander out of Venezuela, was acquired in the Wil Myers trade. He spent 2017 at Lake Elsinore and San Antonio striking out 59 and surrendering one home run with a 1.28 WHIP in 56.1 innings. In one appearance for the Missions, he went 1.2 innings, struckout 3 and allowed 1 hit.
The Padres acquired the 6’9”, 255 lb Wieck in the 2015 Alex Torres trade. The 26 year old is a strikeout machine, averaging 15.0 K/9 at Double-A in 2017. Additionally, Wieck has only given up two home runs in 100 IP over the last two minor league regular seasons. So far, he’s allowed 4 runs (2 earned) in 2 IP, allowing 5 hits, a walk and striking out 3.
Robert Stock, age 28, and Rowan Wick, age 25, are two converted position players who joined the organization in the offseason. Stock, who converted from catcher in 2012, flashed a 100 mph fastball during Cactus League play this spring. He previously spent time with the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds. Wick, a former Cardinal prospect, has tallied 100 strikeouts in just 88.2 IP since moving from outfield to the mound in 2016.
A pair of right handers, 26 year old Jason Jester and 24 year old Colby Blueberg join San Antonio from El Paso and Lake Elsinore, respectively. Twenty-six year old lefty Dillon Overton, owner of a 9.13 ERA across 47.1 major league innings since 2016, and former Blue Jay 2016 35th rounder, 24 year old righty Jared Carkuff, complete the bullpen.
The 2018 Double-A Missions are intriguing for their depth (6 of the Padres’ top-30 prospects), as well as their breadth (potential major leaguers in the infield, outfield, rotation and bullpen) of talent.
Obviously, Fernando Tatis Jr. is going to draw the biggest spotlight, but there’s plenty to like in the less-heralded players. For example, none of the relievers are ranked prospects, but Castillo and Wieck could both feasibly debut this season, while largely unknown commodities like Stock and Wick offer plenty to ponder. Gettys, even with the strikeout issues, serves as a reminder of just how loaded the Padres’ system truly is. He has three plus tools (run/field: 60, throw: 70), and burgeoning power (career-high 17 HR last year), but barely cracks the top-30 prospects.
Who is going to be the first player on this roster to make his major league debut for the Padres?
This poll is closed
Jose Castillo (on 40-man)
Brad Wieck (on 40-man)
Fernando Tatis Jr (#1 prospect)
Cal Quantril (#4 prospect)
Logan Allen (#8 prospect)
Other - comment below