Lots of action in the Padres system this week, including some dazzling pitching performances and a bunch of home runs. Franchy Cordero is back in the minors after being optioned to El Paso, and Javier Guerra was promoted to San Antonio. Adrian Morejon had his worst start of the season (six earned runs in 4.1 innings), and followed it up with a career high eight strikeouts and no earned runs in his next outing. Missions pitcher Trey Wingenter even secured his 13th save, which leads the Padres minor leagues. Here’s a look at more highlights from around the system.
Christian Villanueva – 3B, El Paso Chihuahuas (Triple-A)
9 for 24 (.375), 1 HR, 3 2B, 7 R, 7 RBI, 6 BB, 4 K, 1 SB
The Chihuahuas will get an added boost with the return of Franchy Cordero to the lineup, but Villanueva has made sure that runs are easy to come by this season. Sure, El Paso is about as close to a hitter’s paradise as you could hope to find, but the production has been impressive nonetheless, and Villanueva has quietly had a great season in Triple-A. With Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje solidifying their spots in the Padres infield, and Ryan Schimpf and the injured Yangervis Solarte ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s looking less and less likely that he gets a shot at the majors this year, but it’s not for lack of effort.
Luis Urías – 2B, San Antonio Missions (Double-A)
9 for 17 (.529) 1 2B, 4 R, 1 RBI, 5 BB, 2 K
On July 9th, Urías’ batting average dipped below .300 for the first time since the twelfth game of the season. In July, the 20-year-old has gotten back into a groove, bringing his average up to .318, all while keeping a pristine .415 OBP. He injured his ankle in Saturday night’s game and is in a walking boot, but the injury isn’t considered serious. Even if it takes more that the estimated ten days for him to get back on the field, it’s great to see him bust out of his slump.
Joey Lucchesi – SP, San Antonio Missions (Double-A)
8.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 4 K
Though a fourth round pick is nothing to sneeze at, Lucchesi has been thought of as the lesser piece of the big trio of starting pitchers that moved from Lake Elsinore to San Antonio. While lacking some of the polish of Eric Lauer or the ceiling of Cal Quantrill, he has put up the better numbers, both in High-A and Double-A (though the sample size in San Antonio is much smaller). While he hasn’t struck out as many hitters at Double-A thus far, he is allowing fewer walks and is still difficult to score against. This week he had his longest outing of his minor league career, and it was a good one.
Cal Quantrill – SP, San Antonio Missions (Double-A)
6.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 5 K
Rebounding from a shaky Texas League debut, Quantrill had improved control and was more efficient in his second start for the Missions. Like Lucchesi, he has found strikeouts to be more difficult to come by than in the Cal League, but he has been able to bear down and get them in some high pressure situations. Although his numbers haven’t been stellar, there’s no reason to sleep on the Padres no.2 prospect.
Kyle Overstreet – C/1B, Lake Elsinore Storm (High-A)
12 for 26 (.462), 1 HR, 1 2B, 5 R, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Overstreet has been splitting time with Austin Allen behind the dish, but his bat has been too hot to keep out of the lineup, so he’s seen time at first base as well after the promotion of Josh Naylor. Like Allen, he was taken in the 2015 MLB Draft, though he was a 14th round selection. And like Allen, he has been destroying the baseball the past few weeks. Though the Lancaster caveat remains, still an impressive week for the pair of Storm backups.
Austin Allen – C, Lake Elsinore Storm (High-A)
14 for 27 (.519), 3 HR, 1 3B, 1 2B, 8 R, 6 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K
The disclaimer for the Storm hitters this week (and for their pitchers, who got lit up) is that they played in Lancaster, one of the most hitter friendly parks in minor league baseball. That being said, it’s hard not to be impressed by Allen’s production lately, as he’s bumped his hitting line up to .294/.361/.517. San Antonio’s catchers Webster Rivas and Stephen McGee are fringe guys that are a bit older for Double-A, and it will be interesting to see if the the Padres decide to give Allen a shot at the Texas League before the end of the season.
Jorge Oña – OF, Fort Wayne TinCaps (Single-A)
10 for 23 (.435), 3 2B, 2 R, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K
It’s been ten games since Oña’s last homer, and while the .438 slugging percentage he’s been sporting in Fort Wayne thus far isn’t quite what many expected, he is still hitting .300 and has a decent 8.9% walk rate. He’s still just 20 years old and has showcased that gap power, lots to be excited about still.
Michel Baez – SP, Fort Wayne TinCaps (Single-A)
7.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 8 K
Mason Thompson and Reggie Lawson each had great games for the TinCaps, but Baez takes the cake this week. The 6’8″ Cuban righty has been dominant in his handful of Midwest League starts, and currently boasts an eye-popping 31:4 strikeout to walk ratio. At 21 years old, it’s difficult to imagine Baez staying at Single-A for the rest of the year, especially if his ERA is hovering around the 0.50 mark for too much longer. Still, until he advances, the prospect of seeing him, Thompson, and Lawson in the same rotation is tantalizing for fans in Fort Wayne.
Emmanuel Ramirez – SP, Tri-City Dust Devils (Low-A)
9.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 2 BB 10 K
After giving up a leadoff double to Eugene on Saturday night, Ramirez didn’t allow another hit the rest of the night. The 23-year-old was robbed of a “complete game” because the Dust Devils could only get a run off the Emeralds’ pitching staff, and the game went into extra innings. Signed by the Padres in 2013, he ended last year in Fort Wayne, and spent time there this year as well. This is Ramirez’ third go-around with Tri-City, and despite the age gap between him and the rest of the league, it’s still an impressive performance.
Justin Lopez – IF, Tri-City Dust Devils (Low-A)
7 for 20 (.350), 1 2B, 4 R, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 6 K
Lopez has been switching between second base and shortstop most of the season, and while he did commit four errors this week, the bat seems to finally be waking up. After opening the season as the youngest player in the league, Lopez has shown improvement, going .224/.226/.284 in the month of June, he’s hitting a much improved .269/.329/.346. While you’d think that Lopez isn’t a power threat, we’ll give him some time and hope he can add a few extra bases to that slash line.