While big league spring training kicks into higher gear in preparation for the first games of the preseason this weekend, the minor league side of the complex will begin to come to life today as a group of top prospects and other key players open a specialized minicamp program with the coaching and player development staff.
The minicamp, which will include 31 pitchers and 17 position players, provides a unique opportunity for one-on-one instruction that simply isn't possible with the large number of players who will be reporting for full minor league workouts starting on March 7.
"It’s a talented group and we’re getting them to grow together and spend a lot of time together," said Padres player development director Sam Geaney. "It’s also a lot of skill development."
Unlike last year, none of the youngest international signees who were part of the instructional league program in the fall will be invited into the camp. However, there will still be plenty of new faces for the development staff to get to know. Five of the six Cuban players signed in the current period, who range in age from 17-year-old southpaw Ramon Ernesto Perez to 20-year-old righty Ronald Bolanos will be joined by Taiwanese native Wen-Hua Sung.
"We’ve got a really good thing going down with, well we call it our January program but it’s become our February program down in the Dominican. Keeping those guys going down there is something that we’re totally happy with and there’s a lot of confidence with the program that’s being run down there. It’s allowed us to have the slightly older and slightly smaller group, and know that that younger group is going to arrive soon and have gotten their requisite work in," said Geaney
In addition to the slightly older international players, the top eight picks from last year's draft class will be in camp, and they'll be joined by high school selections Dan Dallas, Tre Carter, Jack Suwinski, junior college picks Nate Easley, Ethan Skender and Dom DiSabatino, and collegiate righty Jesse Scholtens.
At the other end of the scale, Jason Adam and Francisco Mendoza, a pair of minor league free agents, will also be getting an extended look during the camp. Adam, the Royals' fifth-round pick in 2010 who was then traded to Minnesota for Josh Willingham, has spent the entirety of the last two seasons on the disabled list dealing with a stress fracture in his elbow and complications from the surgery to correct it.
The member of the camp with the most seniority in the system is pitcher Bryan Rodriguez, who resigned with the Padres this winter after reaching minor league free agency. He and several other older pitching prospects are coming in for the express purpose of stretching out and getting ready to start and go deep into games from day one of the minor league season. Kyle Lloyd, who has shuttled between the bullpen and rotation over the last several years, will also get the chance to stretch out early.
"I think the nature of spring training, there are going to be opportunities for those older guys to get in major league games and show what they can do in front of major league staff," said Geaney. "So it makes a lot of sense for us to make sure they’re ready to go."
Another longer-term member of the organization in Peoria early is infielder Fernando Perez, who has been well-regarded for his offensive potential since the club drafted him in the third round in 2012, but has struggled to stay on the field because of injuries. He's coming off a successful winter campaign in Mexico, where he played primarily first base. He'll get a head start on the opportunity to develop further in that role this spring.
The minicamp has become an important part of the player development process for a number of key players in the organization. Last year, players like Luis Urias, Franchy Cordero, Dinelson Lamet and Phil Maton all participated in the camp before going on to position themselves as key members of the organization with strong campaigns. The Padres certainly hope that the players in this year's group follow in their footsteps.
2017 Minor League Minicamp Participants:
|Right handed pitchers||Left handed pitchers|
|Jason Adam||Logan Allen|
|Pedro Avila||Jose Castillo|
|Lake Bachar||Dan Dallas|
|Michel Baez||Eric Lauer|
|Ronald Bolanos||Joey Lucchesi|
|J.C. Cosme||Adrian Morejon|
|Enyel De Los Santos||Ramon E. Perez|
|Anderson Espinoza||Austin Allen|
|Brett Kennedy||Marcus Greene|
|Reggie Lawson||AJ Kennedy|
|Kyle Lloyd||Webster Rivas|
|Cal Quantrill||Nate Easley|
|Bryan Rodriguez||Ruddy Giron|
|Jesse Scholtens||Josh Naylor|
|Austin Smith||Fernando Perez|
|Jake Smith||Hudson Potts|
|Wen-Hua Sung||Eguy Rosario|
|Mason Thompson||Ethan Skender|
|Trey Wingenter||Fernando Tatis, Jr.|
|Michael Gettys||Buddy Reed|
|Jorge Ona||Jack Suwinski|
Players in italics have not made their official Padres organizational debut