Padres Hold Back Pitchers
SAN DIEGO—With as much money as the Padres poured into international free agency ($90 million and counting) and the 2016 draft (more than $13 million), the organization boasts more pitching prospects than rotation spots at its four full-season affiliates.
Even with six-man rotations at both Class A affiliates, some of the Padres’ more projectable pitchers opened the season in extended spring training as part of the organization’s plan to roll out arms in April and May.
The reasoning is twofold.
For one, delayed starts will help the Padres manage the workloads for a number of arms in their first or second full seasons. Second, pushing back their calendars could allow younger arms to remain options for low Class A Fort Wayne or high Class A Lake Elsinore, should those clubs qualify for the postseason, which the Padres value as part of their player development strategy.
"The way we’re thinking about it is if we do end up playing playoff baseball at some of these affiliates, we want them to be involved with that,” minor league pitching instructor Eric Junge said. "There’s a lot of colorful ways you can do that and we’re choosing to go easy at the beginning in the colder weather and see how things play out.”
Cuban lefthander Adrian Morejon, who signed for a club-record $11 million last July, headlines the pitchers starting in extended spring training. Other notables include righthanders Reggie Lawson, Mason Thompson, Michel Baez, Ronald Bolanos and Henry Henry.
"This has been an ongoing discussion since we acquired these guys and through the offseason,” farm director Sam Geaney said. "What’s the best way to work with them and what gives us the best chance to develop these guys into good big league starters over the next two or three years?”
• Top prospect righthander Anderson Espinoza opened the season on the disabled list at Lake Elsinore with forearm tightness. General manager A.J. Preller described the decision as a precautionary move that could push the start of Espinoza’s season into May. The setback was not related to his ligament or elbow, Preller said.
• Righthander Jacob Nix started the season in extended spring training due to a groin strain. He is expected to join the Lake Elsinore rotation when healthy.
Baseball America Prospect Report—April 12, 2021
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— Jeff Sanders covers the Padres for the San Diego Union Tribune