MadFriars’ August Players of the Month

Hudson Potts (Photo Credit: Ryan Cox)
L & R Photography

August is the last full month of the minor league season, and the Padres’ affiliates at nearly every level were fighting for playoff spots. It was a month highlighted by a high profile demotion, a high profile promotion, and a breakout from a 2016 first-rounder. As always, this month’s listings are not meant to replace or update the MadFriars Top 20 prospects list, but rather call out individual performances worth noting.

El Paso Chihuahuas (Triple-A)

The Chihuahuas went on a big run in August, posting a 19-10 record to give themselves a chance at the PCL playoffs. Most of the offensive highlights were provided by outfielders who’ve already spent significant time in the big leagues. Hunter Renfroe reacted well to his demotion, posting a .488/.533/.878 line in the 10 games he played. That slotted in well in the middle of the lineup with Franchy Cordero, who had a .997 OPS, and minor league free agent signee Rafael Ortega, whose .371/.456/.528 line for the month capped a strong season in the organization.

While the promotions of Kyle Lloyd and Michael Kelly both garnered much more attention this summer, fellow right-hander Chris Huffman is the guy who has just continued to get outs. A 14th-round pick in 2014, Huffman posted a 2.20 ERA across six starts for the Chihuahuas in August. Working with a fastball that has some good late run, he induces a lot of weak contact and doesn’t issue very many walks (7 in 32.2 innings) even though he doesn’t put up many strikeouts.

Bryan Rodriguez, who now has more tenure in the organization than any other player, was the only other El Paso starter to post an ERA below 4.50. The big righty allowed 43 runners in his 36 innings of work on his way to a 3.75 mark. With a number of relievers shuttling back and forth to the big league club Adam Cimber and Corey Mazzoni, who is finally back from a series of arm and shoulder issues, combined to allow only five runs over 32.2 innings and to strike out 32 against just two walks.

El Paso Player of the Month: Franchy Cordero

San Antonio Missions (Double-A)

A strong offense helped the Missions claim the first half title, but they struggled to score runs in August, hitting a paltry .237/.307/.365 with a 25% strikeout rate. The primary saving grace at the plate was Franmil Reyes, who erupted on the Texas League for a .279/.400/628 line with nine homers, 24, RBIs, and 17 walks – all of which led the team by a significant margin. The big man accounted for nearly a third of the runs scored by San Antonio all month.

Despite the anemic offense, the Missions finished with a winning record for the month. That’s because their pitching staff posted league-best numbers. Enyel De Los Santos, Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi posted ERAs of 1.29, 1.00 and 1.121 respectively in five appearances each. The trio had very similar numbers across the board, combining for 74.2 innings of work with 50 hits allowed and an 83:26 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

While the Missions bullpen wasn’t as stellar as hit has been throughout the year, big lefty Jose Castillo, sidearming righty Eric Yardley and closer Trey Wingenter all had solid performances again. Castillo joined the staff on August 9 and turned in six straight scoreless outings before finally allowing his first Double-A runs on August 30.

San Antonio Player of the Month: Franmil Reyes

Lake Elsinore Storm (Advanced-A)

The Storm, who opened the year with the highest expectations, will be the Padres’ only full-season affiliate to finish out of the playoffs. Even with most of their opening day key prospects either getting promotions or failing to produce, they club had a few strong showings in August. Rod Boykin entered the year unknown by most, but he’s always been a premium athlete who has simply needed more repetition on baseball skills. August continued a remarkable breakout campaign for him. The right-handed hitting outfielder led the club with a .313/.382/.475 line and swiped seven bases on eight attempts. He continued to strike out more than 30 percent of the time, but has been a difference-maker when he makes contact.

First baseman Fernando Perez paced the team with five homers in August following a demotion back from San Antonio in July. Meanwhile, Ruddy Giron took advantage of Javier Guerra’s promotion to Double-A to get back in a regular pattern playing shortstop, and hit a solid .267/.305/.456 across 24 games.

On the mound, 20-year-old Logan Allen has used the 2016 campaign to reassert himself among the list of talented left-handed starters throughout the organization. August was his most impressive month yet as he posted a 1.73 ERA across 26 innings, complemented by a stellar 29:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Fellow lefty Jerry Keel anchored the staff for the month, posting a 4.32 ERA that was skewed by one poor outing. The native of the high desert worked a team-high 33.1 innings, including a complete game two-hitter at Rancho Cucamonga.

Lake Elsinore Player of the Month: Logan Allen

Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low-A)

Through the first two weeks of August, Fernando Tatis, Jr. was unbelievable for the TinCaps. He put up a .370/.539/.722 with only 13 strikeouts against 21 walks in 72 trips to the plate, convincing the organization that he was ready for a promotion five months before he’ll turn 19. Rather than sending up one level, the Padres pushed him forward to Double-A, where he’ll be in the mix of the playoff experience in September.

With the promotion of Tatis, and several key contributors on the disabled list, Hudson Potts stepped up in a big way. The 2016 first-rounder struggled through the first three and a half months of the season, but was a beast in August. The Texan hit .346 with a team-high eight homers, pushing his OPS for the month above 1.000.  Nate Easley, who has often been overshadowed by the teenagers on the roster, also provided key contributions atop the lineup, getting on base at a .420 clip and stealing a team-high six bases in seven attempts.

While high-profile starters Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez both struggled through the month, Pedro Avila was dominant. The 20-year-old Venezuelan, who opened the year struggling with feel on his breaking ball in Lake Elsinore, found it again with the TinCaps and completely overmatched opposing hitters in August. He set a franchise record with 17 strikeouts in one outing, whiffed 13 in 7.1 innings two starts later, and finished the month with a 2.12 ERA and ridiculous 50:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 34 innings, while opponents hit just .182 against him.

Hansel Rodriguez, who like Avila was acquired in a trade for a big league player who has subsequently been released, has taken to his new role as closer. The Dominican righty anchored the bullpen allowing only 10 runners and one run in 12.2 innings while striking out 42 percent of the batters he faced. Big righties Dauris Valdez, Joey Galindo, and Jordan Guerrero and lefty Will Headean added important innings for the relief corps.

Fort Wayne Player of the Month: Hudson Potts

Short-season Clubs (Tri-City Dust Devils and Arizona Summer League Teams)

August was rough for the Tri-City offense, which combined to hit only .236/.317/.319 for the month. Slugging first baseman Chris Mattison, who is repeating in the Northwest League, paced the team with a .797 OPS in 18 games. Tyler Benson, a 31st-round pick out of Bloomsburg College this year, got on at a .431 clip and was the only other player with 50 plate appearances to top a .700 OPS.

Despite the offensive shortcomings, the club finished August with a winning record on the back of a pitching staff that posted a 2.92 team ERA. Lefty starters Nick Margevicius, last month’s player of the month at this level, and Ben Sheckler, the only member of the staff to top 25 innings of work, paced the club with 0.95 and 1.74 ERAs respectively. Big righty Trevor Megill, coming back from a variety of injuries last year, struck out 19 of the 45 batters he faced in relief, while hard-throwing 18-year-old Andres Muñoz posted a 1.80 ERA across eight outings before a promotion to join the TinCaps in time for the playoffs.

In the desert, fourth-rounder Mason House slugged .538, barely edging out 18-year-old Venezuelan catcher Juan Fernandez, who posted a .534 mark, to lead the AZL-1 club. On the other roster, lanky outfielder Angel Santos, who spent two summers in the Dominican before coming stateside for the first time as a 21-year-old, was a beast in limited action. He posted a .303/.395/.667 line across 38 plate appearances. Esteury Ruiz, part of the package that came back in the July trade with the Royals, continued his strong debut season, hitting .330/.396/.516 and stealing a system-best 14 bases.

While most pitchers in the AZL are under strict pitch and innings limits, a few high-upside hurlers gave encouraging tastes of what they can do. MacKenzie Gore struck out 21 batters in 12.2 innings, while 17-year-old Columbian Luis Patino had a 1.88 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 24 innings. On the other team, Ramon Perez, the youngest of the five Cuban pitchers the Padres signed last year, pitched a team-high 21.2 innings across five outings, posting a 3.74 ERA despite issuing 14 walks. Reliever Vijay Miller, more recognizable for his appearance as the quarterback on the series Last Chance U, allowed one run and struck out 15 in 10.1 innings of relief.

Short-Season Player of the Month: Luis Patino

System Player of the Month: Hudson Potts

While Fernando Tatis might have put up historic numbers had he stayed in the Midwest League all month (he already became the first 18-year-old player to post a 20-20 season in the league’s history), Hudson Potts is the one who produced all month. The right-handed hitting third baseman, who won’t turn 19 until the end of October, punished older, more experienced pitchers in August while showing significant improvement in his pitch recognition. He’s positioned himself as one of the key offensive players to watch in 2018.

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