It feels like this team struggles every year. The Padres may have taken some of the players who would be performing here too early while others have hit a wall. The team continues to underperform as a whole.
The right-handed closer has been downright nasty. He holds a 0.86 WHIP and .115 average against while throwing mid-90s. Frieri has always had the tools and may have found a real home as a reliever. He never truly mastered the changeup and is best served as a two-pitch reliever that overpowers the opposition. If he can keep the walks down, Frieri will earn a ticket to the big leagues.
The center fielder continues to work to the beat of a different drum. He has the skills to reach base at a high clip because of his speed and bat control. Durango has also challenged the opposition on the base paths with varying degrees of success. If he can master the running game, Durango can be a valuable asset in San Diego.
The right-hander has been one of the more reliable arms in the Portland bullpen, coming on to work two innings with regularity. He often leaves the game in the same place he started, giving the Beavers a chance. When he is in the strike zone, hitters have a hard time picking up his pitches. He is also stubborn with runners in scoring position, as he bears down and goes after them.
He has quietly taken over as a player to watch, especially if a backstop is needed in the coming months at the big league level, regardless of Dusty Ryan currently being in San Diego. Stewart has gained confidence in his hitting and is back to being an offensive force after a slow start. He is also adept defensively, throwing out 34.6 percent of the runners attempting to steal.
The lineup has struggled at times, and the Padres staff believed the team as a whole would be competing for a playoff spot. They have performed better of late and the pitching has been pretty consistent.
Despite sitting out over a month, Forsythe continues to assert himself as a future big leaguer. He has made a quick transition to second base and has maintained his solid approach to hitting, waiting for his pitch to drive. One area of concern is his low batting average at home but don't expect the low numbers to last through the year.
Castro has had his innings closely monitored throughout the year. There have been times he has been pulled with pitch counts that have yet to hit 80 – when he could have gone one more frame. MadFriars.com's number one prospect has done little to damage his reputation. His fastball command has improved and he has focused on early contact rather than the strikeout. It will work to his advantage.
He was given two goals entering the year: get stronger and be more selective. Hunter took both to heart. After struggling with the pitch selection in April, Hunter has drawn 27 walks in May and June. With his ability to put the bat to ball with more authority, he is back on the map. He also leads the team in average at home, an important trait for working in Petco Park. His work in the outfield has also been exceptionally clean.
He missed almost two months but has not lost a beat. With three quality pitches that are being mixed in at all times during the count, Luebke is in an enviable position where he trusts his stuff and exudes confidence. The southpaw is making a statement that he is ready to be challenged. It may come soon, although his innings will be monitored through the year.
There were a lot of players deserving of praise at this level, including a plethora of pitchers who have proven they can get it done in a hitter's league.
Everyone has dreamed of a healthy Drew Cumberland across a full season. His speed, gap power, and contact ability have always excited the Padres brass. Staying on the field was a problem. Now that he has been able to, for the most part, get in games on a consistent basis, Cumberland is showing the kind of dynamite sparkplug he can be. He may have taken over from Durango as the most exciting player to watch in the system.
Doing all the little things well has paid off for the infielder. He has a firm understanding of the game and knows how he will pitched based on circumstance. Oftentimes, Figueroa can take advantage. His 47-game on base streak is 18 games more than the closest competitor in the league and there is no hitter more clutch with men in scoring position.
After breezing through the Midwest League, some thought a hiccup would come in Lake Elsinore. The diminutive southpaw came two outs from a perfect game in his fourth California League start and has given up two runs or less in seven straight. He doesn't give away free bases and has two plus pitches. Oramas may be in line to continue his rapid ascension.
After saving all but one game a season ago, Brach is at it again. At 25-for-26 in save opportunities this year, he leads all of minor league baseball. He is equally adept versus left- and right-handed hitters while forcing the opposition to put the ball in play if they want to make any noise. He is simply a sure thing at the back end of the bullpen.
This was a team that was expected to struggle in the first half. Now that the weather has warmed up, the Padres feel this team will compete hard for a second half playoff spot.
He has missed almost a year of action but showed why he is so highly coveted upon his return. In his latest start, DePaula carried a no-hitter through seven innings. He has yet to give up more than one run in an outing and backs up fastball location with two plus secondary pitches. Hitters simply haven't had a chance to get comfortable.
Two years ago, it was mentioned that Valdez has as much talent as Cumberland. We all knew it would take time to see. He is putting those pieces together this season, showing gap power, the ability to more regularly work the count and a speed element on the base paths. He still has room to grow in all phases, making him a very projectable talent.
He was dreadful in his first year but has found a home in relief. His confidence is up, his pitches are not. A new delivery for Mikolas hides the ball better and his curveball is a plus pitch. His only downside is working with inherited runners. He may be putting too much pressure on himself in those situations, especially when he is holding the leadoff hitter of the inning to a .147 average.
Forget the average. Rincon has maintained a solid foundation throughout the year – it was only a matter of time before he broke out. With hits in 16 of his last 18, the third baseman has come to age. There is no doubting he can wield the stick. The big concern is his 24 errors in 61 defensive games. There are some who do not believe he can improve enough at the position to stay and are eager to see him in left. He has the bat for either spot.
With a plethora of newcomers, the focus here is on the players who have made their way through extended.
The big right-hander was tabbed as a future big leaguer last year after throwing just a few innings. His first start in Eugene showed the kind of promise he offers. Lollis has a big fastball and improving secondary pitches. If he can continue to make strides with his off-speed, the sky is the limit.
In the last year, Sampson has really developed his changeup into a plus pitch – giving him three above-average offerings. The right-hander has also focused on fastball command, and it shows. He is a bulldog on the mound that does not give in and could have easily competed at Fort Wayne. He will get his chance to move quickly next year.
The big thing for Portillo is fastball command. He has made tremendous strides in that arena over the past year. Part of it is a comfort level of being in the states and the second piece is improved mechanics. He isn't so stiff and the fluidity gives him better location of each of his pitches. Portillo will take some time to develop.
The infielder really improved over the last year by adding weight to his frame. He was one of the better hitters in extended spring and drove the ball with authority to all parts of the field. He has work to do defensively but could be a surprise hitter as soon as this year.
An athletic specimen, Alcantara has had little trouble adjusting to professional baseball as a 17-year-old. He still has room to grow into his projectable body but has already displayed a solid foundation for hitting and emerging power. He is one to watch.
The third baseman is far ahead of his peers in the hitting department with his strong frame supporting the ability to do damage to all parts of the field. He needs to improve his overall pitch selection, but at 17, that is expected. Quintana's defense is the biggest question mark.
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