The Eugene Emeralds is where the Padres send their top college draft picks along with some of the late round selections from last year that have been playing Extended Spring and particularly some of the young Latin American talent.
The most interesting prospect at both levels is shortstop Franchy Cordero, who last year was ranked the #2 prospect by Baseball America in the Arizona League but struggled mightily in Fort Wayne in April this year with 18 errors in 20 games for the TinCaps.
With the Emeralds he has hit with a .287/.333/.509 line, but the errors were also still there with 23 in 23 games (he has appeared in 40 games overall, also seeing time at DH). One of the biggest surprises is OF/1B Marcus Davis, a twenty-fourth round pick from last year’s draft from Florida State.
In this year’s draft the Padres also took a group of interesting outfielders in Nick Torres, Auston Bousfield and Yale Rosen. Shortstop Trea Turner, who has been on-fire in Fort Wayne, but struggled in his first twenty-three games as a pro here with a .228/.324/.238 slash line.
On the mound the two of the more prominent prospects are RHP Zech Lemond, a third round pick out of Rice in 2014 whom the Padres are undecided upon if his future is as a starter or in the pen. And some of the better news this year out of Eugene has been the development of RHP Michael Kelly, a first round supplemental pick in 2011 with immense tools but has yet to stick with a full-season team. He’s still been a little up and down, but seems to finally be turning the corner.
The AZL Padres usually has three types of players; high school picks in their first season of pro ball, Latin American kids with their first exposure to the United States and late round picks trying to prove that they can play so they can move up and out of the desert in the summertime.
Second round pick Michael Gettys elicited quite a few responses when the Padres chose him. John Manuel of Baseball America stated that if this had been over twenty year ago he would have been chosen high in the first round simply because of his tools. Others like Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus agreed that the tools were there but had major questions about his ability to make consistent contact.
However Chad MacDonald, the Padres’ Vice-President of Player Personnel who runs the draft for the team, stated consistently that Gettys was not a lottery pick and so far he seems to be correct as Getty’s is hitting .310/.372/.395 along with OF Jordan Paroubeck, at .314/.377/.475 has been one of the top players at this level.
RHP Tyler Wood, a thirty-seventh round pick out of Furman University, has been one of the players that we see every year. An older (22) guy who is trying to make a name for himself and so far doing a pretty good job with a 1.83 ERA in 19.2 innings with 20 strikeouts and no walks.
Franchy Cordero’s defensive struggles have been well documented. Since nearly all of them are with throwing, what has been the cause of them?
Randy Smith: Franchy is extremely talented and has physical gifts that very few players do. At first the throwing problems were physical and then became mental. To us, he has been showing progress and hopefully the throwing problems will disappear overnight the same way that they appeared.
Right now he just has to get back to just catching and throwing the ball.
Marcus Davis struggled last year but this year he has really come on. Earlier you talked about that he really worked on some areas that you guys identified last year. What were they?
Randy Smith: The biggest thing was that he didn’t have any load in the bat with his hands and his path with the bat to the ball had to become better; and he did that. Marcus has been the biggest surprise of the year to us and has adjusted well to first base after being moved from the outfield. As you can see by the numbers, he’s doing everything offensively well. A very nice quiet kid and I couldn’t be happier for him.
RHP Michael Kelly, except for a few bad outings, has looked much better. What has he improved upon?
Randy Smith: It was all mental with Mike. He has a good body and solid stuff.
He did have a good Instructional League but in Spring Training it became the same problem; getting the third out. With the exception of a few outings as you said, he has been pretty good.
It’s been slow, but he has stuck with it.
Coming out of this year’s draft there were quite a few questions about Michael Getty’s swing. So far he has been performing pretty well. Has your team done much work with him?
Randy Smith: I didn’t see all of the negative stuff than many had written about. I saw a really strong kid with a nice short swing. Right now we haven’t made many mechanical adjustments other than talking about approach, but he is exciting and fun to watch.
Jordan Paroubeck, a third round pick last year, has also been producing. Can you tell us a little about him?
Randy Smith: He’s a quiet kid, good body and a switch-hitter. An injury kept him out last year but he’s been improving every month and will start to show a little more power.
What AZL arms have been impressive?
Randy Smith: I know the numbers don’t look great but there really are a lot of arms that we like quite a bit. Mayky Perez, Jamito Lebron and Alexander Costanza stand out. Some of the new guys like Taylor Cox may not have had big numbers in college but they have good arms.
You really have to come out and see them pitch to be able to see the potential.