Thursday, April 9, 2015

2015 Fort Wayne Tincaps Season Preview

The Fort Wayne Tincaps, the Midwest League affiliate of the San Diego Padres, have announced their opening day roster for the 2015 season. The team will open up with 10 players who suited up for the team last year. The roster announcement was released by the organization, via Twitter.
Last season the Tincaps went 63-76, but made the playoffs for the seventh straight year, despite the losing record. Fort Wayne will open up with 13 pitchers, and 12 position players. Here is a look at the roster:
Coaching staff:  Manager Francisco Morales (1st year with team), hitting coach Lance Burkhart, pitching coach Bert Hooton

Pitchers: LHP Taylor Aikenhead, LHP Payton Baskette, RHP Jimmy Brasoban. LHP Taylor Cox, LHP Thomas Dorminy, RHP Dinelson Lamet, RHP Walker Lockett, RHP Seth Lucio, LHP Kyle McGrath, RHP Ernesto Montas, RHP Wilson Santos, RHP Bryan Verbitsky, RHP T.J. Weir
Analysis: Padres beat writer Corey Brock reported that the Tincaps rotation will feature Thomas Dorminy, Taylor Cox, Ernesto Montas and Walker Lockett. Dinelson Lamet and Taylor Aikenhead will piggyback each other.

None of the pitchers on the roster rank in the Padres top-30 prospects, but many of the young arms have shown promise in their careers.

Thomas Dorminy, 22, pitched to a 3.72 ERA in Eugene last season in his pro debut. Payton Baskette made 20 appearances (12 starts) last season for the Tincaps, and pitched to a 5.29 ERA. Dinelson Lamet will make his stateside debut for Fort Wayne. The 22-year-old pitched briefly with the Padres Dominican Summer League affiliate in 2014.

Bryan Verbitsky is the highest draft pick on the Tincaps staff. He was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft, out of Hofstra University. He spent most of last season in short-season ball, where he posted a 1.67 ERA in 23 games for the Eugene Emeralds.
Catchers: Miguel Del Castillo, Jose Ruiz

Analysis: Del Castillo, 23, has been in the Padres organization since 2009, since being signed out of the Dominican Republic. Del Castillo has played in 630 games in the minors, and has a career slash line of .230/.319/.294, with two home runs.
Ruiz, 20, hails from Venezuela. Last season he played in Eugene and hit just .191 in 55 games.
Infielders: 3B Felipe Blanco, SS Franchy Cordero, 1B Duanel Jones, 1B Trae Santos, SS Josh VanMeter

Analysis: This group features some intriguing names, headlined by Cordero. Cordero is the #8 ranked prospect in the Padres system, according to MLB.com.
Cordero, 20, started with Fort Wayne last season, and got off to a miserable start. He just .188 in 22 games, in addition to making 18 errors, good for a .793 fielding percentage. Cordero played much better after a demotion to Eugene, where he posted a .279/.329/.458 slash line, with nine homers in 61 games.

Jones, 21, has actually spent the last two seasons at High-A Lake Elsinore. He played in 113 games for Fort Wayne way back in 2012. Jones hit .234 with 10 homers last season.

VanMeter, 20, was with Fort Wayne last season. He was the Padres’ 5th round pick in the 2013 draft, and ranks as the Padres’ 30th best prospect, according to MLB.com. He hit .254 in 116 games last season.

Outfielders: Henry Charles, Michael Gettys, Edwin Moreno, Franmil Reyes, Nick Torres.
Gettys is the headlining name in this group, although Franmil Reyes is an intriguing name as well.
Gettys, the 6th best prospect in the Padres’ system, according to MLB.com, will be making his full season debut. Gettys, 19, was the Padres second round pick in last year’s draft. Gettys hit .310 in his professional debut.

Franmil Reyes, 19, is the one of the largest humans in the Padres farm system. At 6’5 and 240lbs, he certainly packs power potential. He spent all of last year in Fort Wayne and hit 10 home runs, certainly holding his own against players much older than him. He also could see some playing time at first base.

Nick Torres, 21, was the Padres’ 4th round pick last year. He hit .253 with Eugene in his professional debut.


Monday, April 6, 2015

San Diego Padres 2015 Season Preview and Prediction

Optimism is at an all-time high in San Diego, as the hometown Padres begin their 2015 season. A record crowd of 23,472 attended Fanfest this past weekend to “meet” this year’s squad. There has not been a buzz this resounding in San Diego since the magical season of 1998, when San Diego won the pennant.
San Diego has been the most talked about team this off-season in the blogosphere, in newspapers and on MLB Network. The Padres are a team that has national intrigue and on paper, they should be pretty darn good. Here is how the Padres will stack up in 2015:

Starting Pitching: Last season, the Padres finished 2nd in the National League with a 3.27 ERA and their adjusted ballpark ERA of 103 finished 4th. Some of the pitching success can be attributed to spacious Petco Park, however, the talent that San Diego’s staff cannot be undervalued.

As good as the Padres staff was last year, the pitching staff is better and more complete than it was in 2014.
San Diego dipped their toes into the free agent water, as they signed former Rays and Royals ace James Shields to a four-year, $75 million contract to become the new ace. Last season Shields went 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA in 226 innings. He led the Royals to their first playoff appearance since 1985. Shields brings durability and a veteran presence at the top of San Diego’s rotation.

From there, the Padres will go with Tyson Ross as their #2 starter. Last season, Ross was the Padres’ best pitcher, as he made his first All-Star appearance. Ross finished the year with a 13-14 record, but with a 2.81 ERA. Ross made 31 starts in his first full season as a starter in San Diego, and will surely look to build on his success in 2015.

Last year’s opening day starter, Andrew Cashner, is penciled in at the third spot in the rotation. The key for Cashner will be health; Cashner started just 19 games last season, missing time with elbow and shoulder injuries. When healthy, Cashner can be a dominant starter. Last season, Cashner pitched to a 2.55 ERA in 123.1 innings.

The fourth spot in the rotation will be occupied by Ian Kennedy, a man who led San Diego in strikeouts and innings last season. Kennedy pitched to a solid 3.63 ERA and struck out 207 batters. Kennedy is a free agent after the 2015 season, and a big year will put him in line for a huge contract.
Brandon Morrow, a free agent signing from Toronto will be the fifth starter to begin 2015. Morrow had a 2.91 ERA for Toronto in 2012, but injuries have limited Morrow to a combined 16 starts the last two seasons. He throws hard, and if healthy, will be an excellent fifth starter.

Bullpen: San Diego already had a deep bullpen before pulling the trigger on a blockbuster trade on Easter Sunday. The Padres acquired Craig Kimbrel, arguably the game’s best closer from Atlanta, in exchange for Cameron MaybinCarlos Quentin, top pitching prospect Matt Wisler, the 41st pick in the 2015 draft and minor league outfielder Jordan Paroubeck. San Diego also received outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. in the deal.
Kimbrel is just 26, and has led the National League in saves the last four seasons. The four-time All-Star is also looking to become the first closer in baseball history to save 40 games in five consecutive seasons. Kimbrel gives San Diego the best bullpen in the National League.

The addition of Kimbrel bumps Joaquin Benoit back to a setup role. There have been concerns about Benoit’s velocity this spring, but even at the age of 37, he is still an elite setup man. Last season Benoit had a 1.49 ERA with 11 saves. He should man the 8th inning.

From there, San Diego will have Dale ThayerNick VincentShawn Kelley and lefty Frank Garces in the middle innings. Vincent threw well after a disabled list stint and Thayer and Kelley are veterans who can miss bats. Garces, who made his big league debut last season, becomes the left-handed specialist after the trade of Alex Torres.

Odrisamer Despaigne will be the longman to start the year, but he could transition to the rotation if a Padres starter has an injury. Despaigne threw well last year and should thrive in the swingman role.
In the minors, the Padres will have Brandon Maurer and Kevin Quackenbush, two solid relievers who would make most bullpens. To say that the Padres have depth in the bullpen is an understatement.

Lineup: San Diego’s offensive struggles were well-documented last season. The swinging (and often missing) Friars finished last in the National League in runs (535), batting average (.226), on-base percentage (.292), and slugging percentage (.342). To say the Padres offensive was bad is an understatement: it was pathetic.
Insert A.J. Preller, San Diego’s new “Rockstar GM.” Preller started the off-season by acquiring Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers. From there, he added Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks. On paper, the Padres look like a powerful squad.

The plan is to have new centerfielder Wil Myers to lead off. Myers possesses tremendous power from the right side, although Myers had a .294 on-base percentage last year. Myers could be an intriguing fit in the leadoff hole if he can replicate the success of his rookie season.

Kemp and Upton give the Padres one of the best 1-2 power punches in the National League. Both players possess the ability to hit 30 homers. Upton drove in 102 runs last season and Kemp had a torrid second half. Both players will need to produce for San Diego to improve.

The rest of the lineup will be dependent on players coming back from injuries and ineffectiveness. Wil Middlebrooks had an excellent spring, but has looked lost the last two seasons. Jedd Gyorko had one of the worst offensive seasons in recent memory in 2014. He did hit 23 homers in his rookie season, so the promise remains. First baseman Yonder Alonso is in a put-up or shut-up season. Another injury or poor start could lead to Tommy Medica or even Yangervis Solarte stealing playing time for him.

Derek Norris cooled off after a hot start in Oakland last season, but he can still be a solid contributor behind the dish. Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes will share the shortstop job to start 2015. Neither player brings much to the table in the way of offensive upside.

Bench: The Padres will open the season with a bench of infielder/outfielder Alexi Amarista, infielder Cory Spangenberg, infielder Yangervis Solarte, outfielder Will Venable and backup catcher Wil Nieves. Solarte was solid for the Padres a year ago and Amarista is a fine utility player who played tremendously well at shortstop down the stretch.

Venable is an excellent fourth outfielder, as he is left-handed, runs well and possesses power and the ability to play all three outfield positions. Spangenberg can play all over the field and hit well last season in a brief cameo. He will likely go back to Triple-A when Melvin Upton Jr. is activated from the disabled list.
Nieves will be the backup for now, but it would not be a surprise for the Padres to pursue another catcher outside of the organization. Nieves is 37 and has no offensive upside. His value will come in the way of veteran leadership and his handling of the pitching staff.

Final outlook: The Padres are vastly improved, but remain flawed. The team needs bounce-back years from several players and does not have a true leadoff hitter. The club is also expecting Wil Myers to play regularly in center field; something he has never done in the big leagues. The everyday lineup is also very heavily right-handed, although the bench will feature as many as four left-handed hitters.

That being said, San Diego has the deepest 12-man pitching staff in the National League. Top to bottom, there is no deeper staff. The offense should be improved as well. This year could be very fun in San Diego.
Prediction: 91-71, second in the NL West. Wild Card winner

Monday, February 9, 2015

Padres Plan Pursuit Of Yoan Moncada

After reeling in James Shields Sunday night, the Padres have not ended their pursuit of high-priced talent. The San Diego Padres have begun to pursue talented Cuban amateur infielder Yoan Moncada, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The Padres had a private workout set for Monday afternoon with the 19-year-old budding superstar.

Moncada is one of the most exciting prospects to ever hit the international market. He has a rare combination of youth, speed and power. While Moncada might not be big league ready after signing, many experts would rank him among the most talented prospects in the game.

The Padres have traded 12 players from their farm system this off-season and they also forfeited their 1st rounder (13th overall) when they signed James Shields, so the Padres have extra incentive to add Moncada. The bidding is sure to get expensive, with many predicting Moncada could receive as much as a $40 million bonus.

Ben Badler of Baseball America compared Moncada to Yasiel Puig and Robinson Cano. He has plus-speed, plus power and is expected to be solid defensively, although many scouts don’t believe he can handle shortstop. A move to 2nd base or the outfield might be in the future. He is a switch-hitter and has an above-average arm.

San Diego will have to be ultra-aggressive in their pursuit of the talented Cuban. The Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees are all interested in Moncada’s services. The bidding could ultimately involve as many as a dozen teams.


It is hard to say who the preliminary ‘favorite’ is to sign Moncada, but the Padres have proven that they are not shy about spending money. However, they will have to outbid several of baseball’s biggest spenders to land Moncada. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

BREAKING: Padres Sign James Shields

The San Diego Padres have made their splashiest acquisition of a busy off-season, as they have agreed to terms with free agent pitcher James Shields. The news was reported by Chris Cotilo of MLB Daily Dish. The deal is pending a physical.

While the monetary terms have not been finalized, the deal is expected to worth at least $72 million. The deal is also expected to include a fifth-year option.

Shields, 33, is coming off of a very successful 2014 campaign with the American League champion Kansas City Royals. He started 34 games for Kansas City and posted a 14-8 record, with a 3.21 ERA in 227 innings. Shields is one of baseball’s most consistent workhorses, as he has thrown 200 innings or more every season since 2007. Shields has also started at least 33 games in every season since 2008.

The Padres focused on fixing a punchless lineup this off-season, but the Shields signing is the first big splash on the pitching side. The Friars signed Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson to incentive-laden deals, but the Shields addition gives San Diego one of the most consistent starters in the game.


The acquisition of Shields will also push the Padres payroll past $100 million for the first time in franchise history. Shields will headline a talented rotation that already includes All-Star Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy. Suffice to say, San Diego will be a team to watch in 2015. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Price Of Acquiring Justin Upton

Last week, the Padres pulled off one of the biggest deals of the off-season in acquiring Matt Kemp. Despite the star-studded addition of Kemp, the Padres clearly need to do more. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has reported that the Padres are interested in acquiring outfielder Justin Upton of the Atlanta Braves.

The deal would surely be a pricey one for San Diego, in both money and potentially with players and prospects. Atlanta has already dealt Jason Heyward this off-season and Upton might be next. The Braves got young, controllable pitching from St. Louis in Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins. Rosenthal pointed out that the cost of Upton will likely be far greater than the return that Atlanta received for Heyward.

San Diego has the trade chips to make a deal, but must also take on Upton’s salary. Upton is due $14.2 million in the final year of his contract. The Padres would likely have to push their payroll past $100 million in order to acquire Upton, which doesn’t seem too far-fetched after the Kemp deal.
Do the Padres and Braves match up in a deal? Here are a few trade scenarios that could play out between the two clubs:

Padres send SP Andrew Cashner and minor league SP Justin Hancock to Atlanta for Upton: In this scenario, the Padres essentially offer two years of Cashner for a year of Upton, plus a promising prospect.

The Padres have intimated that they want to keep Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and Cashner together, in hopes of chasing a playoff berth. However, adding Upton, while not depleting the farm system. Cashner, 28, had a sparkling 2.55 ERA in 19 starts, but has not seemed open to a contract extension with to stay with the Padres. Cashner would give the Braves a talented arm to put at the front of their rotation.

Hancock, 24, was the Padres ninth round pick in 2011. He suffered through an injury-marred campaign in 2014, and also pitched in the Arizona Fall League. Hancock produced a 4.12 ERA in Double-A last year, and could be a contributor by 2016. He has a sinker that can reach 94 MPH, but he has also had injury issues in 2014.

Padres trade SP Matt Wisler, 2B Taylor Lindsey, RP Tayron Guerrero to Atlanta for OF Justin Upton: In this scenario, the Padres give up their top prospect, pitcher Matt Wisler. Including Wisler, who is the #44 prospect in the game, according to MLB.com, would be a steep price to pay indeed.
After a rough start in Triple-A, Wisler recovered nicely, and pitched well down the stretch. Wisler features a fastball that sits between 93-95MPH, with remarkable command. Wisler has only walked 2.4 batters per nine innings in his professional career and could easily win a spot in Atlanta’s rotation.

San Diego acquired second baseman Taylor Lindsey in the Huston Street deal last July. Prior to the 2014 season, Lindsey was rated a top-100 prospect by Baseball America, but he suffered through a lackluster campaign. Lindsey produced a meager .238/306/.372 slash-line as a 22-year-old in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Lindsey is still very young, and could give the Braves some middle infield depth.
Guerrero, 23, has never pitched above High-A, but the Padres added him to the 40-man roster this off-season. Guerrero has pitched primarily out of the pen in the Padres system, and is armed with a fastball that touches 100MPH. Guerrero would be another intriguing prospect that Atlanta can add to the system.

In lieu of trading a top prospect like Wisler, the Padres could offer lesser prospects, and take on a bloated contract like Chris Johnson or B.J. Upton. That scenario seems unlikely, however.

Quite frankly, the Padres interest seems strange. Even with Matt Kemp and Justin Upton, the Padres are still short of becoming a contender. The everyday lineup still features Yonder Alonso, who was a non-tender candidate and Jedd Gyorko, who had a .280 on-base percentage. Upton would not likely be a long-term solution, as he has just one year of control.


An Upton trade would excite fans in San Diego, and perhaps the Padres have another hitter in the lineup breakout. The Padres could also recover a draft pick, which would ease the blow of trading precious prospects. Either way, the Padres have become a team to watch in the off-season, which is something one could not say before. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Padres Season In Review

Coming into the 2014 season, there were hopes that the San Diego Padres could contend for a Wild-Card berth as one of the surprise teams in the National League. Instead, the franchise endured one of the most tragic and difficult years in the history of the franchise. 

Marred by the death of two icons, the firing of their general manager, a horrid offense, and countless injuries, the Padres struggled to a 77-85 record in 2014. The 77 wins were actually an improvement from 2013, when the team limped to a 76-86 record. 
The 2014 season got off to a depressing start when beloved broadcaster Jerry Coleman died on January 5th. Coleman, who was 89 at the time of his death, was the Padres play-by-play voice for over 40 years, and also managed the team during the 1980 season.

In June, the Padres lost Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn, as he passed away from cancer at the age of 53. Nicknamed Mr. Padre, Gwynn's tragic passing sent shock waves throughout San Diego, as 30,000 fans packed Petco Park for a public memorial. 
Despite the miserable season in San Diego, some really positive things happened on the field. Here are a few things that went right in 2014: 

1. The emergence of Rene Rivera: Rivera was the best story of 2014 in San Diego. Just last year, Rivera was playing in Triple-A with the Tucson Padres, with little chance of cracking the big league roster. Then catcher Yasmani Grandal suffered a torn ACL, and the Padres needed a backup catcher. Thus, Rivera's contract was purchased from Triple-A and the rest is history. 
Rivera initially served as a backup to Nick Hundley, but received regular at-bats in 2014. Rivera rewarded the Padres with a solid .252/.319/.432 slash-line, with 11 home runs and 44 RBI's. Rivera was also praised for his ability to handle the pitching staff. Rivera has developed himself into a solid, and perhaps more importantly, an affordable option at catcher in 2015. 

2. Tyson Ross and the starting pitching: Ross was this writer's choice for breakout pitcher for 2014. The 27-year-old did not disappoint, as he established himself as the Padres ace. Ross started 31 games for San Diego, and won 12 games. He fell just shy of 200 innings and had an ERA of 2.81. Ross is under team-control for three more seasons, and it would not be surprise to see the team talk about an extension. 
Ian Kennedy quietly had a tremendous year as well. Kennedy surpassed 200 innings, and was among National League leaders with 207 strikeouts. Kennedy, who was acquired at the trade deadline last season, has one more year of team control. 

3. The Bullpen: The Padres 'pen led the National League with a 2.73 ERA, even after dealing away All-Star closer Huston Street. Joaquin Benoit filled in nicely after the deal, and Kevin Quackenbush picked up some saves in September when Benoit dealt with a sore shoulder. The Padres have only one free agent in the pen (Tim Stauffer), and the unit will have young arms like R.J. Alvarez, Leonel Campos, and perhaps Burch Smith in the mix for a job in 2015. 
While there were a few bright spots in 2014, the reality is that the Padres finished with a 77-85 record and only finished ahead of two of the worst teams in baseball. San Diego suffered through injuries, and the worst offense in baseball. Here is a list of what went wrong for the Padres:

1. Yonder Alonso: The downfall of former general manager Josh Byrnes was the trust he instilled in a few of his acquisitions. Yonder Alonso was the centerpiece of the unpopular Mat Latos deal, as Alonso's gap stroke was considered a better fit for spacious Petco Park. After a promising rookie campaign, Alonso has been prone to injuries, in addition to inconsistency at the plate. Alonso played in just 84 games (down from 155 in 2012) and produced a career-low OPS of .682. Alonso will be 28 in April, but he might have played himself out of a starting gig. 

2. Jedd Gyorko: Gyorko showed promise as a rookie, swatting 23 homers and provided the Padres with the best offensive season from a second baseman since Mark Loretta manned the keystone position. The franchise also invested heavily in the West Virginia-born slugger, as they signed him to a 5-year, $35 million extension. Gyorko hit just 10 homers and was beneath the Mendoza line for most of the year. The Padres need Gyorko to produce in 2015. 
3. Everth Cabrera: Cabrera was an All-Star in 2013, and seemingly cemented himself as a core producer for the club. Then, Cabrera's season ended abruptly after a 50-game suspension in the Biogenesis scandal. Cabrera was apologetic, made amends, and was welcomed back with open arms by the organization. Cabrera responded with a .272 OBP and a DUI arrest. Cabrera is under team-control through 2017, but the team could seek an upgrade outside the organization. 

2014 will go down as one of the most challenging years in San Diego Padres history. Tragedy, injuries, and dismal performances all around were the main story lines. The team should have some financial flexibility in the off-season, and the Padres are interested in upgrading their offense. The team will need to improve offensively if they expect to contend in 2015. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Moosethumbs: Moustakas' Late Inning Homer Gives Kansas City Game One Win Over Los Angeles

Mike Moustakas had a rough year in Kansas City. A slow start led to a demotion to Triple-A. He also hadn't homered since the end of August. However, he is a star in October.

Moustakas homered in the bottom of the 11th inning off of Angels reliever Fernando Salas, and the Kansas City won Game 1 of the Division Series, as they defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 3-2.

The game started as the Lorenzo Cain show, as the Royals centerfielder made a leaping catch at the wall in the first inning, and a diving catch in the outfield to end the second inning.

Kansas City got on the board in the third inning when Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar doubled deep to left, driving in the aforementioned Moustakas.

The Angels bounced back in the bottom of the third, when Chris Iannetta tagged Royals starter Jason Vargas with a long homer to left to tie the game.

The Royals were able to manufacture a run in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly off of the bat of Omar Infante. The RBI gave Kansas City a 2-1 lead.

The runs came off of Angels starter Jered Weaver, who pitched brilliantly, allowing just two runs, on three hits in his seven innings of work.

Once again, the Angels had an answer for Kansas City, as 2012 World Series MVP socked his eighth career postseason bomb off of Vargas to tie the score. Vargas pitched well for Kansas City, allowing just the two runs in the sixth inning.

The game turned into a game of bullpens, as neither team could manufacture a run. The Angels tried to play small-ball and bunt runners over, but they could not push across a run.

In the 11th inning, Moustakas crushed what appeared to be a changeup from Salas into the right field seats to give the Royals the lead.

Greg Holland pitched a spotless ninth, as Josh Hamilton flied out harmlessly to left field to give Kansas City a Game One win.

The Royals lead the best-of-five series, 1-0.