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Gabriel Arias Promoted to Single-A, Hunter Renfroe optioned to Triple-A

This afternoon, Kyle Glaser of Baseball America reported that the Padres were promoting shortstop Gabriel Arias from the Arizona League (Rookie) to the Midwest League (Single-A).

Ranked by Baseball America’s Ben Badler as the no.4 international prospect in last year’s signing class, the 17-year-old Venezuelan has spent 37 games with the AZL Padres 2 squad this season.  There, he has compiled a .275/.329/.353 slash line, despite being 2.7 years younger than the average player (according to Baseball-Reference).  He hasn’t shown much in-game power – as evidenced by his slugging percentage and the fact that he has yet to homer in Arizona – and has a 30.4% strikeout rate.

While he has drawn rave reviews by some for his defense, the bat looks like it still needs some seasoning, so it will be interesting to see how much playing time he gets with Fort Wayne.  It seems like it’d be hard to take reps from everyday shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., and third baseman Hudson Potts, who has had his fair share of struggles at the plate this year, is hitting .355/.412/.645 in the month of August.

The Tri-City Dust Devils, the Padres Low-A affiliate has a handful of highly ranked middle infield prospects, most notably Luis Almanzar and Justin Lopez (both 17-year-olds themselves), and it’s interesting to note that Arias is getting promoted above them.

The TinCaps have just 16 regular season games before the playoffs start, so this is an interesting time to make a move.  As mentioned, Potts and Tatis have been on a tear, and it seems strange to either a) sit one of them in favor of a 17-year-old who wasn’t necessarily tearing it up in the AZL, or b) bring him up to be a utility guy when other players need a breather, which could stunt hit progress (as not getting everyday reps tends to do).

In his time in Arizona, he spent the majority of the time playing short, though he did DH for a few games, and played third base for two, where he will be playing tonight.

 

In other, MLB related news, the Padres optioned outfielder Hunter Renfroe to Triple-A El Paso, and brought up outfielder Jabari Blash.

Renfroe, the Padres first round pick out of Mississippi State (13th overall) in 2013, has struggled this year, having trouble getting on base and having more issues in the field than many expected.  While he is slugging a decent but not great .443 and has 20 homers (including some truly majestic ones that have pelted the Western Metal Supply Building), he has a 28.7% strikeout rate and a paltry 6.0% walk rate, leading to a subpar .285 OBP.

It has well been documented that the key to Renfroe’s game is his power, and in the month of August, he is slugging .260 with just two extra-base hits (a pair of doubles), and is striking out 34.5% of the time.

Time will tell if going down to Triple-A will allow Renfroe to come back a changed man.  At the very least, he’ll be reunited with Travis Jankowski and Ryan Schimpf, making it three Chihuahuas who were Opening Day starters this year for the Padres.

Blash, for what it’s worth, has been tearing up the Pacific Coast League, sporting a .285/.419/.617 hitting line in 72 games.  The 28-year-old hasn’t been able to replicate that production when he was in San Diego thus far, posting a .244/.355/.395 mark in the majors this year.  Even with his PCL-inflated slugging percentage, he is still striking out 30.2% of the time, slightly lower than the 32.3% mark he had during a 30-game stint with the Padres.

Blash will be in tonight’s lineup against the Nationals, batting seventh and playing in right.