MadFriars' Preview: '13 Fort Wayne

Joe Ross returns to Fort Wayne

Synopsis: While we have talked about pitching strength at San Antonio and Lake Elsinore the TinCaps are in a league of their own with four top 20 pitchers in their rotation and you could make a pretty good argument that Justin Hancock and Tayron Guerrero could join them by the season's end.

Offensively they have a nice mix of college players in Jeremy Baltz, Maxx Tissenbaum and Stephen Carmon. Keep an eye on a very athletic outfield with lots of potential.

Three Strikes with Randy Smith Padres Director of Player Development and International Scouting:

Is this the most talented pitching staff that you have sent to Fort Wayne?

Randy Smith: The one we sent their last year led by [Adys] Portillo and [Matt] Wisler was pretty good too so these guys are going to have to earn it. They have some big shoes to fill but they are really talented too.

Can you go over how the six man rotation is going to work?

Randy Smith: A lot of things are going to depend upon promotions and injuries. We are definitely going to run it for the first few months because we are sending a lot of young guys out there and we really want to be careful with injuries.

Who stands out for you among the position players?

Randy Smith: [Luis] Tejada is really talented and could have a huge year. [Jeremy] Baltz had a very good spring and it's hard to not like the speed that Mallex Smith brings to the table. Really I think we have some very good prospects at every position and the outfield has some really good athletes.

2013 Projected Lineup:

1bLuis TejadaSP Joe Ross
2bMaxx TissenbaumSP Max Fried
SSStephen CarmonSP Justin Hancock
3b Gabriel Quintana SP Zach Eflin
CDane PhillipsSPWalker Weickel
RF Corey Adamson SP Tayron Guerrero
CF Brian Adams RP Chris Nunn
LF Jeremy Baltz RP Roman Madrid

MadFriars' Top 20 Prospects in Fort Wayne: Max Fried (#6), Joe Ross (#11), Zach Eflin (#17) and Walker Weickel #19.

Catch a Rising Star: Some baseball draft pundits thought Fried had a shot to be the overall top pick of last year's draft. As many baseball people have stated you just don't find lefties with his firm fastball and pitching aptitude.

Hancock also returns for a second stint in Fort Wayne.
(Jeff Oliver)
Starting Pitching: Although they are all very, very good the first half of the season should be a bit of a learning experience mainly because Fried, Eflin and Weickel will gaining their first significant experience in professional baseball and cold weather. All three have big fastballs their development and success will be on how quickly their breaking pitches and off-speed develop. The early stars of the season should be Justin Hancock and Joe Ross both of whom pitched very well in Eugene after struggling with the TinCaps early in the year. Guerrero is a 6'7" monster who defines the concept of throwing downhill but still a little raw.

Pen: Roman Madrid is a big guy whose power slider made him the closer with the Eugene Emeralds last summer. He was 7-0 with a 44/11 K/BB ratio. Lefty Chris Nunn had an 0.57 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 31.1 innings pitched. He didn't allow a run in his first eighteen appearances with the Emeralds which isn't bad for a twenty-fourth round pick in the 2012 draft from Lipscomb University.

Infield: Tissenbaum and Carmon should be a really exciting double-play combination this summer for the TinCaps. Both are left-handed hitters who walked more than they struck out in Eugene and are solid defensive players. Carmon, a 2012 tenth round selection from the University of South Carolina-Aiken had a .383 OBP is an ideal candidate to hit at the top of the order with his speed and eye. Quintana can play both second and third and showed some pop in the Arizona League. As mentioned in the opening with Randy Smith, Tejada is a big rangy player whom the Padres think will develop more power as he gets older. Last year in the AZL he had a slash line of .293/.352/.370.

Catching: Both Dane Phillips and Rodney Daal should see significant time behind the plate and at DH this year. The left-handed hitting Phillips put up some big numbers in college but struggled his first year in Eugene. Daal, a native of the Netherlands, he speaks five languages and seems to be able to hit in all of them. He is still raw behind the plate but hit .306/.385/533 in the AZL and .288/.351/.364 in Eugene at 18.

Baltz should be one of the offensive leaders for the TinCaps.
(Jeff Oliver)
Outfield: The first word that come to mind with this group is athletic. Brian Adams was a two sport star at the University of Kentucky and is phenomenal athlete. The downside is he only had 219 career plate appearances in college so its going to be a learning experience in the Midwest League. On the opposite side of the spectrum St. John's Jeremy Baltz is the most polished of the group and put up the best numbers in Eugene of all of them. Mallex Smith should patrol center for most of the year and may have the best speed in the organization. He hit well in the Arizona League but struggled in Eugene. Corey Adamson returns to Fort Wayne after putting up some good numbers this winter in Australia.

On the Spot: Corey Adamson signed with the Padres at 17 and this will be his third trip to Fort Wayne. He looked much better this spring and is only 21 but he is going to have to start to prove he is worth the $500,000 bonus San Diego gave him in 2009.

Under the Radar: Although four of the starters are in the MadFriars' Top 20 Justin Hancock may by the end of the season be joining them. Hancock had a 1.61 ERin 72.2 innings in Eugene and if his two-seamer continues to develop will put up some numbers in the Summit City.

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