Padres’ Prospects Experiencing Success In The Land Down Under
By Nick Stevens
The San Diego Padres had four prospects put up big seasons this winter in the Australian Baseball League as they prepare for the 2018 MiLB season. From 17-year-old shortstop Gabriel Arias flashing tremendous leather, to an explosive show of power by speedy outfielder Buddy Reed, these prospects had a lot to be proud of down in Australia.
San Diego Padres’ prospect Buddy Reed may be leaving Australia, but not before he made sure the country knew his name. Reed joined RHP Lake Bachar and shortstops Gabriel Arias and Jarryd Dale in the Australian Baseball League this offseason in preparation for the 2018 MiLB season.
In his final game with the Canberra Cavalry before returning to the United States, Buddy Reed turned in a five-hit performance, including three home runs. The unforgettable performance brought his total to 10 round-trip shots on the year in just 31 games. A truly shocking stat considering that in his 139 minor league game career, Reed has just six home runs.
A second-round pick of San Diego in 2016, Reed slashed .326/.363/1.022 in Australia. He led the league in triples (four) and added eight doubles. A career .242 hitter in the States that reaches base just 30% of the time, Reed saw the ball extremely well this winter. The question now is, can he continue this development in 2018?
You won’t find Buddy Reed on the Top 30 prospects list for the Friars. He does, however, possess plus speed and a plus arm that can slot in any outfield position. His defensive abilities and speed on the basepaths may be enough to overcome his suspect batting tools and allow him to reach the majors one day. Evaluators put his ceiling as a fourth/fifth outfielder at the major league level. Keep an eye on his progress this season as he likely begins 2018 with High-A Lake Elsinore.
Gabriel Arias begins quest for stardome.
The real talk of the winter has been 17-year-old Gabriel Arias. Arias is currently the #10 prospect in the Padres’ system, according to Baseball America. Also playing for Canberra, Arias is hitting .271 with a .310 on-base percentage through 29 games. He has 12 extra-base hits on the season, including five home runs.
It has been the glove of Arias that has commanded the most attention. As you can see below, his glove and arm will develop very nicely. It’s worth reiterating he’s only 17.
Arias played in 37 games for the Arizona League Padres in his inaugural season in 2017 before he was aggressively promoted to Fort Wayne in the Midwest League. While the bat never had a chance to come around (appeared in just 16 games), it was, again, his defense that made noise. After committing 10 errors in 142 chances in the AZL, he committed just one in 53 chances at Fort Wayne.
I’ll have a much more in-depth breakdown of Arias in the next few days. It appears the young Venezuelan is bound for an illustrious career. At least one coach within the Padres system believes Arias could wind up as the top prospect in the system.
RHP Lake Bachar among ABL leaders in ERA and WHIP
Also playing for Canberra was 2016 fifth round pick, RHP Lake Bachar. As of January 14th, Bachar has started seven contests, posting a 4-1 record and 2.66 ERA. He currently sits second in the ABL in ERA and fourth in lowest WHIP at 1.25. Over 44 innings of work, he owns a 39/19 K/BB ratio.
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Bachar came out on fire to begin the ABL season. Through his first four starts, he established a 3-0 record and a 1.00 ERA. He was credited with three quality starts and held opponents to a respectable .224 batting average.
When he returns stateside, expect Bachar to earn a spot in the Lake Elsinore starting rotation. He’s not a Top 30 prospect and doesn’t project as a starting pitcher the further up the ladder he rises. However, Bachar does own a 1.03 WHIP over his first two seasons in the Padres’ system and has shown the ability to miss bats in the lower ranks. Year three in Lake Elsinore will paint a more clear picture of Bachar’s future with San Diego.
Native Australian Jarryd Dale showed a big improvement this winter.
The Padres had another 17-year-old shortstop in the ABL this winter, native Australian Jarryd Dale. Dale signed as an international free agent last summer. The teenage prospect re-joined the Melbourne Aces for the 2018 season after earning the club’s Rookie of the Year award in 2017 as a 16-year-old.
Dale slashed .288/.339/.424/.762 this winter, a vast improvement over his .206/.217/.279/.497 performance last year. He showed a little bit of pop with his bat, clubbing three home runs. Dale will make his US debut this summer in the Arizona League where scouts will get a better sense of his tools and abilities.
If you haven’t seen Dale play yet, here’s a clip of him hitting a home run.
One thing we do know for certain about Jarryd Dale is his pedigree. His Dad, Phil Dale, pitched for the Cincinnati Reds, progressing to Double-A before moving back to Australia. He has since coached at the professional and Olympic level for Australia and serves as an international scout for the Atlanta Braves. Jarryd’s brother, Ryan, is a first baseman with the Kansas City Royals and his cousin, Jon Kennedy, is a pitcher in the Atlanta farm system.
Overall, it’s been an exciting winter for a large number of Padres’ prospects. Let’s hope the success translates stateside. If so, Padres’ fans will be blessed with tremendous talent on the field, no matter which minor league affiliate you choose to watch.
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