Category Archives: San Diego Padres Pro Shop

Hunter Renfroe Jersey

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The 2019 San Diego Padres have 17 games left to play this year.

If the team goes 10-7 the rest of the way, they will end up with a 77-84 record.

Flip that, and a 7-10 record will bring them to 74-87.

In the unlikely event that this club pulls off a win streak and manages a 12-5 mark over the next three weeks, a losing record, at 79-82, will be their ultimate reward.

However you slice it, the next month of Padre baseball has very little to offer aside from evaluational opportunities and the time-honored refuge of losing ballclubs—those so-called moral victories of September. Yuck.

With about seven months left until San Diego plays another meaningful baseball game, it’s probably time to start turning our attention toward the 2019-2020 offseason.

Given the club’s repeated expression that 2020 is the expected opening to its window of contention, said offseason figures to be a very important one; factor in the much-ballyhooed roster crunch GM AJ Preller will be dealing with, and it may be fair to upgrade the situation from “important” to “critical”.

The club’s 40-man roster is full. Eleven players currently sit on the 60-day injured list, putting them temporarily off of that 40-man—but they will need space on that roster when they are ready for activation. Several prospects will need to be moved onto the 40-man in order to avoid the Rule V Draft this offseason (including Buddy Reed, Esteury Ruiz, and Trevor Megill), while the club still holds 40-man spots for fringe considerations like Travis Jankowski and Edward Olivares.

Those last two players are of particular note. With a much-discussed logjam in the 2019 outfield, the Padres have received little in the way of clarity regarding their on-grass picture for 2020. Uneven performance, injury, and stagnation have more or less muddied what was already an uncertain state of affairs with San Diego outfielders this year. With Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, Josh Naylor, Nick Martini, and Franchy Cordero all expected back next season, how will the team continue to make 40-man room for players like Jankowski and Olivares?

It’s with a question like this that we kick off what will be a new series over the next two weeks, wherein potential trade pieces for the 2019-2020 offseason will be evaluated. Hunter Renfroe, who figures to be the second-most expensive player of San Diego’s outfield group next year, is certainly a trade candidate worth taking a look at.

Jorge Ona Jersey

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It was certainly interesting that the San Diego Padres added Jorge Ona to the 40-man roster protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft.

Ona, by resume, was certainly someone who should have been protected, but there are question marks behind Ona the player.

What’s interesting about protecting Ona was that the Padres had a similar decision with Franmil Reyes in 2017.

Reyes was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft that year but had a wrist injury that ended his season early.

The Padres gambled that no one would draft the big-hitting outfielder who had reached Double-A.

The gamble paid off.

In 2018, Reyes was fully healed and went on a tear at Triple-A El Paso and was promoted to the big leagues.

Once there full-time, Reyes hit 16 home runs in 87 games to go with a .280 average.

He continued to rake in 2019 for the Padres until he was traded mid-season in a three-way deal with the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds that netted prospect Taylor Trammell.

Ona, an outfield from Havana, Cuba, was signed by the Padres on July 20, 2016 for $7 million as part of a heralded international signing class that also included Michel Baez and Adrian Morejon.

He’s been beset by injuries so far as a Padre farmhand, having never played more than 107 games in a season.

Ona had been a fixture in the Padres Top 30 prospect list until most recently when he fell off the grid.

Last season, however, Ona was on the verge of a breakthrough when he was promoted to Double-A Amarillo and hit .348 with 5 home runs and 18 RBI in 25 games. He also had an OBP of .417 and OPS of .957.

But his season was cut short by a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Franchy Cordero Jersey

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Padres GM AJ Preller spoke to reporters at the GM Meetings in Arizona yesterday, with a few interesting notes on the club’s current roster concerns. While Preller didn’t unequivocally dispel rumors of Luis Urias’ availability on the trade market, he did offer that he sees “a lot of scenarios” in which the youngster is starting in the middle infield in 2020 (as noted in an article from Dennis Lin of The Athletic). Meanwhile, catcher Francisco Mejia is “very much in the catching equation” for the club next year, and team officials still feel like Austin Hedges can “swing the bat a lot better than he did [in 2019]”.

Preller also shared that the club is expected to retain second bagger Greg Garcia and that the club’s catching depth is “an area we get hit on” from other teams. Taken together, these comments don’t provide much clarity with regard to the team’s plans at catcher and second, but could be seen as typical of an executive staring down an offseason that offers a dizzying number of potential routes toward club improvement.

More from the NL West…

Another one of Preller’s many touted young players, outfielder Franchy Cordero, tweaked a glute muscle while rehabbing at the team’s complex in Arizona this week. As reported by AJ Cassavell of MLB.com (link), the injury is not expected to be overly serious but should delay the 25-year-old’s participation in the Dominican Winter Leagues. Padres fans know well the extent to which Cordero has been limited in recent years by injuries, as a chronic elbow issue acted in concert with a quad injury to rob him of the majority of his 2019 season. Cordero, a lefty-swinging outfielder capable of playing center, fits exactly the type of player the Padres have been rumored to be in pursuit of this offseason, though he has been limited to just 79 major league games since debuting in 2017. For what it’s worth, Preller still characterized Cordero as, “One of the more talented and physically gifted players in the league in terms of a speed/power combo.”

The Giants are considering University of Michigan coach Chris Fetter for their pitching coach vacancy, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (link). As noted previously, Fetter was a considered as a candidate for the Mets’ pitching coach opening. Fetter, a former ninth-round pick of the Padres back in 2009, previously spent time as a coach in the Dodgers system while new Giants manager Gabe Kapler was serving as the Los Angeles director of player development.

Speaking of L.A., Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman reiterated the club’s plans to use Julio Urias in the rotation next season, as noted in a tweet from Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times (link). Friedman currently projects to use Urias, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Kenta Maeda in the rotation, while Ross Stripling will “have a chance” to compete for a spot. The perennial NL West champs have also been connected to a number of high-profile starting pitchers this offseason (Gerrit Cole included), and starter Rich Hill has expressed a strong desire to return to the Dodgers. The team also has Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May on hand as starting options, with Pedro Moura of The Athletic (link) relaying that the club still views May as a big league starter moving forward despite his late-season 2019 deployment from the bullpen.

Austin Hedges Jersey

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With a forthcoming 40-man roster crunch, a stacked farm system, and an active depth chart still littered with question marks, AJ Preller is going to have a full offseason agenda. With 2020 set as something of a make-or-break year for this organization’s leadership, this winter could bring drastic, keep-my-job kinds of moves from the 6th-year GM out of Cornell.

Could we see another massive free agent signing a la Manny Machado? Gerritt Cole would certainly look nice in San Diego brown.

Or, perhaps more feasibly, could we see one of the team’s prized prospect jewels traded for a Noah Syndergaard-type? While a youngster like Luis Patino would certainly fetch a nice return on the trade market, Preller has shown little inclination toward trading his signed-and-developed prospects.

Or, maybe, just maybe, Preller might prune a bit of fat from his 40-man roster and trade from one of the team’s few positions of depth. If Preller were to go such a route, there may be no place better to pick from than the team’s catching reserves.

When Preller traded All-Star closer Brad Hand and sidearmer Adam Cimber to the Indians in exchance for Francisco Mejia in 2018, he essentially sacrificed 1⁄3 of an effective bullpen. Since the trade, Hand and Cimber have provided Cleveland with the following:

80 innings of 3.04 ERA pitching (Hand)
71 innings of 4.44 ERA pitching (Cimber)

Cimber hasn’t been amazing, but, taken together, those are a lot of good bullpen innings—innings that a GM doesn’t sacrifice unless he feels like he’s getting a building block in return.

For his part, Mejia has, when healthy, indeed looked the part of a building block this year. After returning to the squad on June 18th this year, the 23-year-old switch hitter produced a .298/.354/.503 batting line with 8 home runs in 49 games. His defense is a work-in-progress, but most metrics peg him as only slightly below-average behind the dish.

Today also marks the callup of one Luis Torrens, the former 2016 Rule V draftee who has spent the better part of two years honing his craft in the minors. After a respectable showing with Lake Elsinore in 2018, Torrens boldly asserted himself with a .300/.373/.500 line in the Texas League this season—becoming one of the key cogs in the lineup of the champion San Antonio Sod Poddles in the process.

Elsewhere in the organization, Luis Campusano was recently named MVP of the California League, and Baseball America named 25-year-old Austin Allen one of it’s Triple-A All-Stars for 2019. Any way you slice it, the Padres organization is flush with catching depth.

That brings us to Austin Hedges. A draftee of the Padres in the second round of the 2011 amateur draft, Hedges has gotten the lion’s share of starts at catcher since the beginning of 2017. Though he is in the midst of the worst season of his career offensively, his top-flight defense is the catalyst behind a strong 1.6 WAR figure through 97 games. Over the last three years, Hedges has accrued an even 6.0 WAR, indicating that he has been—despite the limitations with the stick—a respectable big league regular.

That production is nice, but, for the reasons illustrated below, Hedges is quite possibly going to be providing that production for another team next season.
Teams In Need

This offseason, something like 15%-25% of all teams are going to be looking for replacements or upgrades at the catcher position. Here’s a look at some teams that could have interest in plugging Hedges in at “C”.
Rangers : -3.1 WAR in 2019 from Jeff Mathis, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jose Trevino, and Tim Federowicz

The Rangers surprised many this year by hanging in contention until the season’s midway point, and their 74-77 record entering play today is still much better than most experts anticipated. One thing holding them back from getting over the hump? Well, here’s video of what they’ve been receiving from their battery this year:

The production offered from a combination of Mathis, Kiner-Falefa, Trevino, and Fed-Ex has been absolutely useless in 2019 and has, cumulatively, probably cost the Rangers several wins. Hedges is today a much better defender than the formerly formidable Mathis. Might the club be interested in parting with pitching prospect Joe Palumbo—currently ranked 6th in the Texas system by MLB Pipeline—in a deal for Hedges?
Rockies: -1.1 WAR from Tony Wolters, Chris Iannetta, Drew Butera, and Dom Nunez

Intra-division trades are rare, but could Preller feel comfortable trading with the cellar-dwelling Rox? Wolters has logged a nice-on-the-surface .272 batting average in 2019, but park-adjusted measures like wRC+ peg him as a significantly below-average (66 wRC+) performer. Iannetta is so far over-the-hill, he can’t even see it anymore. They don’t have a single catcher in their Top 30 prospect list. Could Preller pry away relief prospect and former second round pick Ben Bowden, who offers a high-90s fastball and has already reached Triple-A?

Tigers: -2.7 WAR from Grayson Greiner, Bobby Wilson, Jake Rogers, and John Hicks.

Rogers is only 24 and the team’s 12th-ranked prospect, but his awful showing at Triple-A and MLB (.115.227.260 in 112 at-bats) this year could have them looking for a more established option. Hedges only comes with two years of control, but could they value his ability to handle a young pitching staff? It’s hard to quantify a catcher’s effect on a pitching staff, but it’s worth noting that the Padres have three under-26 starters who have, at the least, proven serviceable with Hedges behind the signs. With prospects like Casey Mize and Matt Manning likely to hit the bigs next year, Hedges could be a perfect mentor. Young righty projects like Beau Burrows or Kyle Funkhouser could make sense in a return package.
Brewers: 5.9 WAR from Yasmani Grandal and Manny Pina

The Grandal signing has been an absolute coup for the Milwaukee front office, providing a .249/.380/.476 line with 27 homers this year after signing a one-year, $18.25MM deal with a mutual 2020 option this past offseason. Grandal is likely to walk, reducing Milwaukee to Pina and 24-year-old Jacob Nottingham at catcher. Prospect Mario Feliciano probably needs another two years of development before being ready for prime time, so Hedges could be a perfect bridge for the win-now Brew Crew. Could Preller try to buy low on infielder Travis Shaw? Shaw is just a year removed from a 30-homer season, but has scuffled through a .155 season this year. If Preller doesn’t feel confident in the Urias/France competition at second, Shaw could be a nice bench piece to have on hand. Otherwise, would Milwaukee be willing to move on from former pseudo-ace Jimmy Nelson?
Braves: 3.0 WAR in 2019 from Tyler Flowers and Brian McCann

Flowers (34) and McCann (35) have been resoundingly effective for the dominant Braves in ‘19, but Flowers is a possibility to depart in free agency. Prospect catcher Shea Langeliers is coming down the pike, but probably won’t be ready until 2022. Maybe pitcher Huascar Ynoa or speedster CF Justin Dean could suit up in Amarillo colors next year?

Better That The Rest

All of these teams will be looking for catching help this offseason. However, chances are that only one of them will be able to make a free agent signing who would represent a superior option to Hedges.

Yasmani Grandal, 31, is likely to opt out of his contract with Milwaukee in search of a big payday. He’s likely to get it after a strange trip through free agency in ‘18.

Outside of Grandal, here are the other top free agent catching options this offseason, in terms of 2019 WAR:

Jason Castro (33)
Tyler Flowers (34)
Robinson Chirinos (36)

Castro, Flowers, and Chirinos are all good pros, but each is past 33 years old. For a club looking for upside or reliability, Hedges would certainly represent a safer option. Beyond that, each of these players will likely cost $4MM or more on the open market, so Hedges’ contract becomes something of an attractive asset in comparison.

The Padres are likely to have a sizable list of suitors for Hedges in the event that Preller chooses to make him available. As a young, useful player with two years of control—playing a position that San Diego has well in hand—Hedges could be the Padre most likely to move this offseason.

Kirby Yates Jersey

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SAN FRANCISCO — Kirby Yates is the surfer baseball nearly forgot.

Not a single team bothered to draft him 10 years ago. And the next decade was spent sold, released, purchased, waived and traded. He spent parts of nine years in the minor leagues.

Now, at 32, he is on the verge of climbing to the mountaintop of baseball accolades.

Yates is three weeks away from representing the San Diego Padres at the All-Star Game.

“If it happens, it means I’ve come full circle,’’ Yates told USA TODAY Sports. “I’ve failed a lot. I mean, I’ve been failing for years. And to make the All-Star Game, it would be unbelievable. This game is funny. It’s crazy. It’s weird.’’

Who would ever have imagined that Yates, who was shuffled and discarded like a used deck of cards from five different organizations in three years, would have the loftiest statistics by any closer in baseball?
Kirby Yates has converted every save opportunity this season.

Yates has been virtually perfect this season, leading the major leagues with 23 saves in 23 opportunities, with a league-leading 0.96 ERA, yielding a .137 batting average against right-handed hitters, to go along with two scoreless streaks of 10 or more innings.

In an organization that had three Hall of Fame closers (Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage and Trevor Hoffman) a Cy Young closer (Mark Davis), Yates is saving games at a rate never before seen in San Diego.

PLAYOFFS: Some division races are already over

PADDACK: NL ROY candidate sent to Class A

He is the first Padres’ pitcher to have at least 20 saves before June and is just three saves shy of the franchise record for saves before the All-Star break, trailing Heath Bell in 2011.

“It’s been neat to be compared to some of the great closers this organization has had,’’ Yates said, “but I don’t think people should slot me into their category. I have a lot to prove before being compared to them. Come on, let me pitch a full season first, then you can say what you want.’’

Yates is still trying to grasp his accomplishments while knowing that of all the players who make this year’s All-Star team, no one might appreciate it more than him.

“I don’t take any of this for granted,’’ Yates says, “knowing just how hard it was for me to even get to the big leagues, and then bouncing around like I did. And now this.’’

Yates, born and raised in Lihue, Hawaii, visited the mainland only once in his life before his senior year. He had only two collegiate offers to play beyond high school, choosing Yavapai Community College in Prescott, Arizona, over Central Arizona College.

He missed two years in college recovering from Tommy John surgery, and when the 2009 amateur draft came and went, with 1,521 players selected in 50 rounds, Yates’ name was never called.

Tyler Yates, 41, who pitched five years in the major leagues and is now a police officer back home in Kauai, vividly remembers that telephone call from his little brother, who suddenly was about to quit.

“As soon as the draft was over,’’ Tyler Yates said, “he called me and said, ‘Dude, I didn’t even get drafted. No one wanted me. A scout just called, but I don’t even know if I want to play baseball anymore.’

“I told him, ‘You waited your whole life for this. You better take it. Come on, you can’t quit now.’ ’’

Yates listened to his brother, signed a week after the draft with the Tampa Bay Rays and reached the big leagues five years later. He was sent to Cleveland for cash considerations after the 2015 season. Six weeks later, he was traded to the New York Yankees. He pitched 41 games in 2016 for the Yankees, going 2-1 with a 5.23 ERA, and suddenly started to believe he could have an actual future in the major leagues.

He decided to fully dedicate himself to the game, moved from Hawaii to Chandler, Arizona, where he could not only take advantage of the training facilities but also would no longer be tempted to blow off his workouts for a day of surfing with a beer cooler nearby.

“I’d go surfing all of the time; I loved my life,’’ Yates said, “maybe a little too much. I had to be more disciplined and take advantage of this gift. It was one of those things that you work your whole life for this, so why wouldn’t I put forth more effort and get myself dialed in.’’

Yates, who was relying solely on his fastball and slider, started experimenting with a split-finger pitch that winter. He never got a chance to use it with the Yankees, or even thank Masahiro Tanaka for helping teach him the pitch. He was claimed off waivers again by the Los Angeles Angels. He thought the pitch was coming along fine in spring training and his six minor league appearances with Class AAA Salt Lake, but after being called up by the Angels, his tenure lasted a mere inning.

Next stop, San Diego, with the Padres claiming him on April 26, 2017.

In two years, he has morphed from a journeyman to a middle reliever to a premier setup man to one of the most dependable closers in the game.

“I always knew he could do this,’’ Tyler Yates says. “It was always there. But he just had to believe it.’’

Yates had no choice when the Padres traded relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber two days after the 2018 All-Star Game for catching prospect Francisco Mejia. This was the opportunity that was going to make or break him.

“I hated the way I got the job because Brad Hand was my closest friend on the team,’’ Yates said, “but I also felt I was more physically and mentally prepared than anything I could possibly be for in my life. I never panicked. I was never scared. It’s not like I wanted to fail, but I wasn’t afraid to fail, you know what I mean?

“It’s like, it can’t be anything worse than I’ve already been through. I figured if that’s as bad as it’s going to get, no matter what I do as a closer, it can’t ever be that bad again.’’

Well, Yates hasn’t had to find out, converting on 35 of his 36 save opportunities since becoming the Padres’ closer, yielding just 16 hits while striking out 48 batters in 28 innings this season.

It’s not as if he lights up the radar gun with his 93-94 mph fastball, but hitters are kept completely off-balance with his 86-mph split-finger, which he throws nearly half of the time.

Oh, and you want to talk about preparation?

He’s one of the first players to arrive to the Padres’ clubhouse, spending hours poring over scouting information, studying videotape and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of every player he might potentially face in that day’s game.

“He doesn’t just take the ball, chuck it and hope things happen,’’ Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley says, “he’s 100% prepared for each and every game we play. He’s learned how to pitch his way. He knows where his outs come. And he has so much confidence now.

“You hear people say that with a story like Kirby’s and overcoming so many obstacles, he’s proving a lot of people wrong now.

“No, he’s just proving himself right.’’

Really, the only obstacle in Yates’ path now is that he might be, well, too good. He is tantalizing to every contender needing bullpen help before the July 31 trade deadline, and with the Padres falling out of contention, they suddenly have an awfully attractive trade piece.

“I don’t want to go; I really don’t,’’ Yates said. “I love it here. I feel we’ve got something brewing here and will be in contention of years. And I’m so comfortable here. It just fits. I love the lifestyle. I love everything about it.’’

San Diego might not be Kauai, but it’s the closest thing in the major leagues, playing in the perfect climate, and just off the Pacific beach. His dad, Gary, got to see him pitch a week ago in San Diego, and he knows if he’s traded back east, it might be too far for his parents. They never once got to see him pitch for the Yankees because of the 12 hours it would take on even a direct flight to New York.

“It’s just too far for my parents,’’ Yates said, “that’s why San Diego is perfect. I know it’s part of the business, but I’d just hate to leave here.’’

Considering Yates’ success and popularity in the clubhouse, veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler and his teammates say, the feeling is completely mutual.

“We’re thrilled that teams like him,’’ Padres manager Andy Green said. “But we love him. We want him here. We want him closing out games for years to come for us.’’

Yates, who’s a free agent after the 2020 season, refuses to stress out about it, knowing it’s taboo in his Hawaiian culture, but certainly sees the irony.

Ten years ago, almost to the exact day, no team in baseball wanted him.

Today, who doesn’t?

“Crazy game, huh?’’ said Yates. “Who would have believed it?’’

Matt Strahm Jersey

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Back in September, I wrote about Padres left-handed reliever Matt Strahm and how his intriguing repertoire out of the bullpen was generating mostly unnoticed performance. I noted his respectable 2.12 ERA and 3.45 FIP in 51 innings, while also pointing out that his numbers were trending upward. In the final month of the season, after that article was posted, Strahm continued to impress, posting a 1.74 ERA and 2.87 over a stretch of 10 1⁄3 innings, striking out 14 and walking four.

Strahm is no stranger to success. In his debut season with the Royals in 2016, transitioning from a starting role in the minors to a setup role in the majors, he put up a 1.23 ERA, 3.06 FIP, and 0.9 fWAR in only 21 innings. After a hiccup with inconsistent performance, a season-ending knee injury, and a subsequent trade, he returned to flash dominance in a versatile role out of the bullpen for the Padres.

With the Royals, Strahm relied strongly upon his fastball (he threw it nearly 80 percent of the time), which was good-not-great velocity-wise, sitting around 93-94 MPH, touching upper-90s. He’d occasionally mix in a curveball, slider, and changeup, results varying. His curveball without a doubt was his best secondary pitch as a starter. His only other significant offering, his changeup, was considered mediocre.

Strahm’s fastball was touching 97 in relief this year. It sits in the low 90s during extended outings but has exceptional, bat-missing life in the zone and is a plus offering. His curveball is already plus, flashes better than that, and Strahm’s ability to locate it in several effective locales allows the pitch to miss bats against both left- and right-handed hitters. Strahm will break off curveball featuring spin rates in excess of 3,000 RPMs. His changeup is fringey right now and only projects to average, but Strahm is able to maintain his fastball’s arm speed during release, which allows the pitch to induce sub-optimal contact.

Because of Strahm’s ability to locate his curveball effectively, I don’t think significant changeup progression is a necessary component for Strahm to attain a mid-rotation ceiling. If he can refine his fastball command, I think he can get by using the fastball/breaking ball against hitters from both sides while using the changeup as a tertiary change of pace.

His second year in the majors saw him struggle with locating his fastball. None of the secondaries took a step forward, giving his potentially impactful arm little to work with. The Royals did try him out briefly as a starter that season, as he went on to post a 7.11 ERA and 4.27 FIP in 11 2⁄3 innings. Losing a tick of velocity, he relied on his fastball less, turning to his slider and changeup as his main secondary offerings. None of those looked encouraging in a small sample size.

Fast forward to 2018, as Strahm had been traded to the Padres. Back in the big leagues quickly, he worked with four primary offerings out of the bullpen. Not your typical reliever. The biggest difference though this time was that his secondaries were generating good results.

Strahm has relied on four pitches (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup, all of them generating fair results. Using prorated pitch values from FanGraphs and eliminating decimals to create a wider range, we see that 27 pitchers out of 291 with 50 innings have posted values at or greater than zero. Strahm is one of them, with the majority of the rest looking like great company.

The changeup has turned into my main focus there. With the Royals as a starting pitcher prospect and a big league reliever, his changeup was considered fringe and there wasn’t much reliance or focus on it. It also seem to correlate pretty well with his uptick in strikeouts.

Strahm developed more confidence in the pitch as the season went on. And the results progressively got better and better.

May: 22 results, .156 wOBA, .451 xwOBA, 0.0% K%, 0.0% BB%
June: 24 results, .196 wOBA, .273 xwOBA, 12.5% BB%, 0.0% K%
July: 53 results, .264 wOBA, .286 xwOBA, 5.9% BB%, 29.4% K%
August: 22 results, .126 wOBA, .184 xwOBA, 0.0% BB%, 28.6% K%
September: 22 results, .126 wOBA, .171 xwOBA, 0.0% BB%, 33.3% K%

Now it looks like Strahm will get to test that new toy in the Padres rotation. He’s pitched a starter’s workload this spring, netting fantastic results. But it all doesn’t fall on the changeup, as he’s also working with a new slider. An adjustment to the mentality in which he throws the pitch with and work with his new pitching coach led to massive improvements.

“I started to develop it a little bit in Kansas City, but my knee injury in 2017 kind of put an end to that. Getting traded over here was a little blessing in disguise, to get with Balls [pitching coach Darren Balsley]. He kind of sharpened it up. He made it a legit swing-and-miss pitch for me.

“Something that helped it click was A.J. Ellis explaining to me — this was last year — the term ‘kill slider.’ That really stuck with me. It helped me throw my slider as a swing-and-miss pitch, versus trying to place it somewhere. A.J. said to just throw the hell out of it, and I was like, ‘All right.’ I did, and ever since I’ve kind of had that feeling for it. I basically take my four-seam and rotate the baseball — maybe 25 degrees? — and let it rip.

It’s only Spring Training, but there has been nothing but positive signs from his few outings.

2/27: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO
3/4: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO
3/9: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO

Now fully healthy and pitching with a complete four-pitch arsenal, Matt Strahm looks like an enticing breakout candidate for 2019.

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El periodista Gerardo Reyes Copello es el director y fundador del equipo de Univision Investiga del departamento de Noticias de la Cadena Univision. Durante su trayectoria ha logrado los mayores reconocimientos tanto como periodista de prensa como en el medio televisivo y también como escritor.

A lo largo de su carrera ha cubierto temas diversos como el narcotráfico o las negligencias y los fraudes médicos, y su labor investigativa ha destapado numerosos escándalos financieros y de corrupción en América Latina.

Bajo su dirección la unidad de investigación de Univision ha recibido numerosos e importantes reconocimientos. El especial ‘Rápido y Furioso, armando al enemigo’ que Reyes dirigió en 2012 y en el cual también ejerció de reportero fue galardonado con el prestigioso Peabody Award a la mejor investigación. Este trabajo también fue reconocido por la principal asociación de periodistas de investigación de Estados Unidos, IRE, que le entrego al mejor reportaje televisivo de larga duración. Esta investigación también recibió un National Headliner Award. Anteriormente, en 2011, Reyes había dirigido ‘La Amenaza Iraní’, a raíz del cual se generó una crisis que acabó con la destitución de la cónsul de Venezuela en Miami, Livia Acosta. Ademas de tener una gran repercusión política la investigación recibió un Telly Award. En 2013 Univision Investiga presento ‘El Chapo Guzman, el eterno fugitivo’ con un gran éxito de público y crítica. Reyes no solo dirigió la investigación desde el primer día, sino que además fue uno de los pocos periodistas que logro reportar desde Badiraguato, municipio donde nació el narco, antes de su captura. El especial, que se emitió 3 meses antes de la captura del narcotraficante, recibió un Emmy a la mejor investigación que Gerardo Reyes recibió en Nueva York el 30 de septiembre de 2014.

Antes de recalar en Univision, Reyes había realizado extensas y exitosas investigaciones especializándose en temas de corrupción por los cuales habia recibido premios como el María Moors Cabot de la Universidad de Columbia en 2004.

Entre sus éxitos profesionales formó parte del equipo del diario The Miami Herald que ganó el premio Pulitzer en 1999 por la serie Dirty Votes, The Race for Miami Mayor.

Gerardo Reyes comenzó su carrera periodística en 1980 en el diario El Tiempo de Colombia como integrante de una de las primeras unidades investigativas del hemisferio. Desde finales de los 80 trabajó en los diarios El Nuevo Herald y The Miami Herald.

Investigador y autor

Reyes es autor de varios libros, entre ellos: “Don Julio Mario”, biografía no autorizada del hombre más influyente de Colombia y “Nuestro Hombre en la DEA” (Premio de Periodismo Planeta en 2007), en el cual narra la doble vida de Baruch Vega, un fotógrafo de hermosas modelos que negociaba la libertad de narcotraficantes en Estados Unidos.

Es autor además del libro “Made in Miami”, una compilación de sus mejores crónicas y reportajes, y es coautor del libro “Los dueños de América Latina”.

En el ámbito más académico, Reyes también es reconocido por su obra “Periodismo de Investigación”, la primera guía sistemática en español de los métodos del periodismo de investigación.

Gerardo Reyes también fue argumentista para series de televisión ‘La Mariposa’ o alias el ‘Mexicano’.

Durante años, Reyes fue también asesor editorial de las revistas Semana, Poder y Gatopardo.

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Don’t worry Cal Quantrill, we see you.

While the San Diego Padres‘ pitching spotlight has shined mostly on teammate Chris Paddack, the Friars have another right-handed thrower who’s enjoying a fine rookie season.
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With a 6-3 record, Quantrill boasts a stat line of a 3.23 ERA, 1.115 WHIP, and 61 strikeouts through 75.1 innings pitched. Those are the best of his three-year career in the Padres’ system and he’s only getting better.

With a strong delivery, good command, and ice in his veins, Cal is quickly becoming a fan favorite as he makes his case for joining San Diego’s coveted 2020 rotation.

So, how did the 24-year-old Canadian end up in southern California?
Upbringing

The rookie can trace his baseball roots to his father, Paul Quantrill, a former All-Star and 14-year veteran reliever. He played most of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays but he enjoyed a short stint with the San Diego Padres in 2005.

Paul spent his last year in Canada as an All-Star pitcher in 2001, leading all American League pitchers with 80 games played. He followed up with three more league-leading seasons for games pitched, two of those being the most in all of major league baseball.

That’s right, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. aren’t the only rookie sons of former MLBers tearing up the league.

Born in Port Hope, Ontario, young Cal Quantrill was a multi-sport athlete who excelled at baseball, hockey, and volleyball at Trinity College School.

His high school stats are littered with awards and achievements: MVP in 2011, 2012, and 2013; three-time member of Team Canada 18-U; played in two world championships and a world qualifier in Seoul, Taichung, and Cartagena; threw a perfect game as a senior in his team’s home opener; and much more.

At 18 years old, Cal was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 2013 MLB draft, though he didn’t sign and instead chose to attend college at Stanford University. There, he became their first freshman pitcher to start on opening day since Mike Mussina in 1998. His freshman year featured a 7-5 record, 2.68 ERA, and 98 strikeouts through 18 games.

He followed up with a strong start to his sophomore year going 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 20 strikeouts in three games. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to injury and he underwent Tommy John Surgery that spring, officially ending his college baseball career.

Minors

Heading into the 2016 MLB draft, Cal was ranked as the number 22 prospect in all of baseball. The San Diego Padres saw an opportunity and drafted him in the first round with the eighth overall pick; he quickly signed with the Friars and played five games with the Arizona Padres.

Quantrill blazed through San Diego’s minor league system, pitching five games with the Tri-City Dust Devils before being promoted to the Fort Wayne TinCaps. He was playing in his first full-season affiliate by the end of August 2016, only two months after being drafted.

Nothing from his minor league career indicated he’d be as effective as he is today. Quantrill finished 2016 with an 0-5 record and 5.11 ERA; he then began 2017 1-5 with the Padres’ former AA affiliate, the San Antonio Missions.

That’s when things took off.

He finished out the 2017 season with the Lake Elsinore Storm, posting a 6-5 record, 3.67 ERA and an impressive 76 strikeouts through 73.2 innings pitched. His performance earned him a trip to the Padres’ 2018 spring training, but he didn’t make the opening day roster.

Instead, he rejoined the Missions before being promoted to the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas, where he went 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA to end the 2018 season.

The Friars once again invited Cal Quantrill to spring training, and yet again he didn’t make the starting roster. He went on to pitch 16 Triple-A games for El Paso, finishing his 2019 minor league season with a 4-2 record, 4.54 ERA, and 1.40 WHIP.

The Padres selected his contract and brought him up to the majors in May 2019, where he made his MLB debut against the Atlanta Braves. He had a so-so outing, tossing 5.2 innings and surrendering two runs off six hits.

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Andres Munoz started Thursday night replacing Kirby Yates, and finished it with his own place in San Diego Padres history.

The 20-year-old reliever was asked to close Thursday’s game against the San Francisco Giants, as regular closer Yates was given the night off after blowing his last save opportunity.

Munoz did allow a run and a walk, but struck out two Giants hitters to hand the Padres the win. It was his first career save in his brief career—which also made him the youngest person to save a game for the Friars.

The previous benchmark was set by Lance McCullers during his rookie season in 1985.

Almost immediately, talk began about Andres Munoz succeeding Kirby Yates as the next Padres closer, but manager Andy Green was quick to point out that the young man is still very early on in his career.

“There’s a lot of work for [Munoz] to be in that spot over and over again,” Green told reporters after the game, according to MLB.com. “We’re very encouraged with what we’ve seen early in his career and the way he’s handled every challenge given to him.

“He’s doing everything to check every box right now,” he continued. “[We’re] just going to let him take it an outing at a time right now, but he’s on the right path.”

No one wants to jump too far ahead, especially since the performance showed room for some improvement with the one run he allowed, and it’s just his debut in the closer role. But Munoz has some speed—his fastball tops out at 102 MPH—and he delivered when the team needed him to, helping to snap a losing streak.

Munoz has appeared in 18 games for the San Diego Padres, and has a 1-1 record with six holds and now, one very important save.

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Pitchers jumping from High-A to the major leagues is something we rarely see. Having not even faced competition in the upper-minors yet, going from facing lineups that a majority of non-big leaguers to facing actual big league lineups is not an easy task. Taking on that task Sunday will be Padres prospect Nick Margevicius, a good-but-not-great prospect (FanGraphs tabs his future value at 40) who the Padres saw enough promise from him in camp to put him in the big league rotation.

A left-hander out of Rider University, where he put up a 3.18 ERA in 229 college innings, he was drafted in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. His pro-debut saw him yield dominant results across two levels (1.31 ERA, 48 IP, 8 BB, 62 SO), included with a big strikeout boost when he left the college ranks. He started the 2018 season at Low-A Fort Wayne where he continued his success (3.07 ERA, 76 IP, 9 BB, 87 SO), earning him the promotion to High-A Lake Elsinore, where he finished out the season (4.30 ERA, 58 2⁄3 IP, 8 BB, 59 SO). Now after an impressive showing in Spring Training (12 IP, 4.50 ERA, 4 BB, 12 SO), he’ll get his first taste of big league action.

Off the top of my head, the last notable jump for a pitcher from High-A to the majors was Jordan Hicks last year. The reasoning for his case was pretty ease to point out, that being that he sits triple-digits. Here’s the thing with Margevicius, though: he can barely hit 90 mph on the radar gun.

Being a minor leaguer, there isn’t much public data available on Margevicius. Luckily, he did appear in a Spring Training game against the Diamondbacks, who play in one of two Spring Training complexes with Statcast-tracking. This appearance came back on March 19th, an outing that saw him give up two earned runs in four innings, striking out three and walking one. His fastball velocity was dreadful. He maxed out at 90.7 mph, minimized at 86.9, and averaged 88.8. This falls in line with the scouting reports. He’s “crafty.”

“Margevicius has the qualities of a finesse lefty. His fastball sat in the 88-to-90 mph range, touching 91, with above-average armside movement and riding life when he was up in the zone. He will mix an infrequent cutter to righties in the mid-80s, showing pitchability and knowing when to change looks at the heater.”

This velocity isn’t something we’ll typically see in today’s game and it’s something we keep seeing less and less of with upcoming prospects. Out of 265 pitchers that threw a four-seamer and accumulated at least 10 innings, only 11 pitchers sat lower than what Margevicius did with his four-seamer on March 19th. Adding an age constraint of 23 or younger and the lowest average velocity was from Orioles reliever Josh Rogers at 89.9 mph. Nobody else sat below 90.

Now you may be asking however did Margevicius reach the highest level of baseball in the world. Well, there’s two reasons. First, it’s his superb-control. Here are the walk-rates of each of his minor league stops.

2017, Rookie: 5.0%
2017, A-: 3.6%
2018, A: 2.8%
2018, A+: 3.3%

Since 2017, here are the 10 lowest walk-rates among minor league pitchers with at least 150 innings. Worth noting that none of these pitchers posted a higher strikeout-rate than Margevicius.