The bad news is the best player in San Antonio, SS Trea Turner, is about to depart for the Harrisburg Senators, the affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Turner is the “player to be named later” in the off-season’s three way trade for Wil Myers between the Padres, Tampa Bay Rays and Nationals.
Turner looked ready for the big leagues right now on defense and has good range. If you listen to scouts the aspect of his game that they rave about the most is his “internal clock” of knowing how much time he has to make a play. Their point is that he moves his feet so well and is usually in great position, he doesn’t need the big arm for which he was dinged by some pundits before and after the draft.
At the plate he is a very disciplined hitter with a good idea of pitches that he can and can’t handle. He’s solid on the basepaths and as the interview we ran the other day noted, he’s pretty confident of his ability to consistently improve.
Turner is hitting .322/.389/.478 and is among the leaders in the Texas League in batting average and total bases. How big a jump is it from Low-A Fort Wayne to Double-A San Antonio? The last player that did it with the Padres was OF Will Venable in 2007, and he only hit .278/.337/.378 and didn’t look nearly as impressive defensively in right field as Turner has at shortstop. Venable also had a year and half in professional baseball.
This Monday will be the anniversary of when the Padres selected Turner.
If he wasn’t going to the Nationals’ system he would be in Triple-A El Paso in a few weeks and could even be starting in San Diego by the end of the year. It’s unlikely anyone regrets trading for a player as talented and with the years of control of Myers, but Turner may also be a lot better than many of us thought at the beginning of the year.
The next question we get is on RF Hunter Renfroe, who was promoted midway through last year to AA; and he has struggled. The first phrase that is usually uttered by Padres’ pundits is that it is a “small sample size” and that “he is making adjustments.”
So far he’s played 110 games in San Antonio and has hit .227/.298/.341 - it’s a little more serious than a “small sample size.” The games that I saw was Renfroe, as compared to Turner and CF Travis Jankowski, who is having a big year in San Antonio (more about that later), is that I’m not sure what his approach is at the plate.
He takes certain pitches for strikes that he swings wildly at in the next pitch in the same spot. He sat out a few games in May as they reworked parts of his swing, but it seems like the biggest adjustments will not be physical or mechanical if he is to succeed but mental.
I’m not writing him off yet, but the point is his struggles are beyond the mantra of “small sample size.”
CF Travis Jankowski has looked great after missing all of last year with a wrist and elbow injury that nearly ended his career. The former 2012 first round draft pick from Stony Brook has shown much better plate discipline from previous years.
The left-handed hitting Jankowski has always been a plus defender and has stolen 125 bases in 153 attempts in his four year minor league career. His big improvement this season has been his ability to refine his two-strike approach, that has cut down on his strikeouts, and has vastly improved his ability to handle the inside pitch; where he is using more of the field instead of just going the opposite way.
If LF Justin Upton does leave as expected at the end of the season, Jankowski’s plus defense in center, natural leadoff ability makes him a very strong internal candidate to be starting in center field for the Padres in 2016.
The Missions have the best starting pitching staff in the system with RHP Justin Hancock, RHP Colin Rea, RHP Elliot Morris and RHP Casey Kelly, who is slowly being stretched out as a starter. Also RHP Bryan Rodriguez, after a rough April, has been one of San Antonio’s better pitchers.
The two that have especially stood out though have been Rea and Hancock, both of whom rely on very good two-seam fastballs and are among the leaders in the Texas League in ERA with Rea clocking in with a 1.38 and Hancock at 2.81. Look for at least one of them to be in Triple-A El Paso for the second half.
If you are looking for pure upside, Butler, 23, who was taken in last year’s draft in the seventh round is your man. At six-foot-four and an imposing 225 pounds, he has the size and a plus fastball - which sits in the mid-90s - that you want to see. His secondary pitches are still works in progress, but there is a lot to like.
Six-foot seven, 215 pound RHP Tayron Guerrero still stands out the most of anyone in the pen, both literally and figuratively, but his overall numbers were hurt by one bad outing in early April. In 19 games he has only given up earned runs on three times.
Other standouts in the pen have been RHP Adam Cimber, who like last year destroys right-handed batters with his side-winding style with the opposition is hitting .186 against him as compared to .429 against left-handed batters. RHP Michael Dimrock has been very good out of the pen with a 1.66 ERA and a 23/2 K/BB ratio.