SAN DIEGO -- The Padres concluded their instructional league schedule by hosting a group of Texas Rangers prospects in the Future’s All-Star Game at Petco Park Friday night. The game gave 70 or so Padres minor leaguers the opportunity to get a taste of the Major Leagues for a few days before heading into the off-season.
First baseman Josh Naylor hit a three-run homer and the pitching dominated, as the San Diego squad cruised to a 5-1 victory in front of a very enthusiastic crowd at Petco Park.
Top prospect Anderson Espinoza got the start and flashed the electric stuff that has been touted by every major baseball publication. Espinoza routinely flashed a fastball touching 98 mph and a devastating curve that touched 78 mph. The 18-year-old righty pitched a scoreless inning, striking out a pair.
“I won’t lie, I was a little bit nervous when I first went out there but once I threw that first pitch, everything was just relaxed. Throwing the fastball to both sides of the plate was definitely part of the plan, I wanted to go out there and attack hitters. I had a 1-2-3 inning in mind -- if I had to change anything, it would be three strikeouts, instead of two,” said Espinoza, through an interpreter shortly after the game.
San Diego jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Third baseman Ruddy Giron reached base on a dropped third strike and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. singled to left. First baseman Josh Naylor had the biggest swing of the evening -- slamming a 2-1 fastball into the left-field seats to give the Friars all of the runs they would need.
“I just tried to put a good swing on the ball and help my team win. Going to the opposite way kind of helps keep my shoulder locked in and my front side locked in. I just try to think opposite field mentally and it just helps keep me engaged at the plate,” said Josh Naylor shortly after the game.
San Diego added on in the second, plating two runs off of Rangers starter Brett Martin. DH Hudson Potts led off the inning with a double to right and right fielder Jeisson Rosario followed with a walk. After an A.J. Kennedy walk, second baseman Luis Urias hit a booming double to the left-center gap to drive in two.
RHP Cal Quantrill, the eighth overall pick in the 2016 draft, made his first appearance at Petco Park and flashed the potential and polish that the Padres saw when he was selected. Quantrill allowed a double to start the inning and allowed the only run of the game on an RBI single. The former Stanford hurler wiggled out of trouble with a pair of strikeouts. Quantrill touched 97 mph with his heater in his first inning of work but sat in the 92-94 range in his second inning of work. His slider generated missed bats and touched 85 mph.
The Padres received outstanding pitching the rest of the night as RHP Henry Henry pitched two scoreless innings, eventually finding a solid release point with his slider. RHP Reggie Lawson also pitched a scoreless inning, touching 94 mph with his fastball. Lawson struck out a pair in his one inning.
At the plate, Luis Urias did what he did all season and had two hits and two RBI. CF Buddy Reed had a pair of singles, a stolen base and made a sliding grab in the field.
“I think we were expecting it to be a really cool environment and I think the production on our business side exceeded all expectations. The fans were unbelievable. I know for our boys, it was basically a Major League atmosphere and the play was brought up to that level. Obviously, I’m very happy with how they competed and played together. The pitching was outstanding and it was a pretty clean defensive game overall. For these guys to walk away going into the off-season with that kind of taste in their mouth is pretty cool,” said Sam Geaney, the Padres’ director of player development.
Note: David Jay contributed additional reporting.
Key Statistics: 2B Luis Urias, 2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI; 3B Ruddy Giron, 2-for-3, 2B, R; 1B Josh Naylor, 2-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; CF Buddy Reed, 2-for-4, SB; RHP Anderson Espinoza, IP, 2 K; RHP Henry Henry (W) 2 IP, H, BB, K; RHP Cal Quantrill, 2 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 4 K; RHP Reggie Lawson, IP, BB, 2 K.