After the short day Sunday, Padres minor leaguers were back at it full-bore on Monday, on the field from 8:00 until Buddy Reed threw out Ethan Skender, who had taken too wide a turn following a single, to end the intrasquad game at about 4:00.
In between, we got our first look at Eric Lauer, Wen-Hua Sung and Ronald Bolanos in the bullpen, massive righty Dauris Valdez threw an impressive live bullpen session, and then there was a game action on two fields.
For the second straight year, my visit coincided with a match-up against the Tijuana Toros, who run their spring training operations out of Tucson. In last year’s game, Trey Wingenter put himself on the radar with an impressive inning of work. This year, there was no such breakout, in part because plenty of attention was on the intrasquad field where Cal Quantrill worked three strong frames.
Even though his stuff wasn’t at its best, last year’s first-rounder worked 93-95 with his fastball, a slider that ranged from 77 (and buried in the dirt) to 84 and a change-up with nice armside movement that was steady around 81. He struck out three and gave up only two hard-hit balls, to lefties GK Young and Jack Suwinski, who both pulled doubles into the corner.
Up against Quantrill was Kyle Lloyd, whose split-fingered fastball has been one of the better pitches in the organization over the last few years. The righty, who has bounced from bullpen to starting in the past, came in with the minicamp group and appears on track to be in a rotation to open the year.
Trevor Megill followed with his first two innings of game work since the Padres took him in the seventh round in 2015. The Loyola Marymount product, who turned 23 in December, has a huge frame but relies more on movement than velocity. He struck out three, including Fernando Tatis, Jr., relying on a cut fastball that sat in the low 90s and a hard slider. At this point, he’s likely working for a bullpen role.
Dennis O’Grady had been waiting almost as long to get game action, but the 2011 draftee worked an inning as well. The New York native missed all of last season with arm issues.
Other arms in that game included Mayky Perez, the one-time hard-throwing bonus baby from the Dominican. He’s never fully regained his velocity and was hittable working in the low 90s this afternoon.
A trio of college arms from last year’s class got work in as well. Ben Scheckler, who could easily follow the path fellow giant lefty Jerry Keel carved out last year and work in multiple roles at multiple levels this season, looked solid after an inning by Will Stillman. But perhaps the most interesting was the last guy to work, Jose Galindo. The hard-throwing righty worked in the mid-90s with a slider that ate up several hitters. The club’s 13th-round pick, he has a chance to move quickly in a late-inning role.
J.C. Cosme got the start in the match-up with Tijuana and fought his command a bit. The small-framed righty generates velocity without a low-effort delivery and whippy arm, but he wasn’t able to spot it consistently on Monday. He’s likely ticketed for the Storm rotation to open the year.
Righty Tyler Barnette, acquired from the White Sox this offseason, got his first two innings of work in as well. A UNC-Charlotte teammate of Ryan Butler’s, the 24-year-old is in the mix for a roster spot in the upper minors.
While the Padres went very heavy on pitching in last year’s draft, they did bring in several high school and junior college players with some real upside. Suwinski and Skender have both been hitting the ball hard and putting up good at-bats throughout camp. While both are fringy defensively (Suwinksi as an outfielder and Skender at second base), they both have loud tools at the plate. If the decision had to be made now, there’s a decent chance Suwinski could break camp on the Fort Wayne roster alongside Buddy Reed and Jorge Oña.
Up the ladder in the outfield, Franmil Reyes reworked his swing fairly substantially last year, and it paid off with an OPS over 900 in the second half for Lake Elsinore. He still appears to fight his muscle memory sometimes, but he’s continuing to hit the ball hard this spring. He laced a double to the right field corner in his first trip to the plate against Tijuana.
Although the roster against the Toros was mostly made up of guys in the upper minors, the Padres gave the start in right field to Tirso Ornelas, the Tijuana native who turned 17 on Saturday. He continues to show a powerful left-handed stroke, which he'll continue to hone in extended spring training.
Shortstop Chris Baker rolled his ankle and is not running at all. He and Hudson Potts were doing ground drills today as they try to stay sharp in order to be ready when the season starts.
Yimmi Brasoban’s recovery from his platelet treatment for a sore elbow seems to be going well. He’s throwing from flat ground and should be on a mound in the next week.
Three key starters are dealing with minor issues and not currently throwing. Jake Nix, ticketed for the strong Lake Elsinore rotation, has a groin strain that lingered enough to merit an MRI. They found nothing concerning, but he’s not currently throwing. Enyel De Los Santos and Brett Kennedy, two guys who are expected to contribute heavily at San Antonio are both close to throwing again after small setbacks. It’s certainly still possible that they’d be ready by the start of the year.
Minor league camp got even more crowded on Monday as 10 players came down from big league camp and Josh Naylor and Jamie Romak returned from their stint with Team Canada. Sent out from the major league side were relievers Jon Edwards, Keith Hessler, Jason Jester, Kyle McGrath, Jose Ruiz, and Brad Wieck, shortstops Javier Guerra and Jose Rondon and outfielders Nick Buss and Jose Pirela.