You won’t find Pedro Avila on any Top 100 Prospects lists, but San Diego Padres fans should still take notice of him in 2018.
This past week, we dove into the San Diego Padres’ prospects who made this year’s Top 100 list and looked at four players who may find themselves on that list soon.
One name we haven’t touched on at all is RHP Pedro Avila. Avila, 21, joined the Padres in December of 2016 in exchange for catcher Derek Norris. Norris was coming off a season that saw him hit a measly .186 with a wRC+ of 56 for the Padres. The move allowed San Diego to hand the reins over to top prospect, Austin Hedges.
Fangraphs recently released their list of “Lower Ranked Prospects We Love.” As Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel explain, these are prospects who have future value to a major league team but “haven’t done enough” yet.
Along with Avila, the list discusses a number of other Padres’ prospects. RHP Chris Paddack was mentioned as someone who would have been in the Top 100 if he wasn’t recovering from surgery. Third baseman Hudson Potts joined a group of corner infielders who can make it, but bring only one offensive skill (power). Infielder Gabriel Arias also received love. You can see why for yourself here.
The name I find most intriguing on this list is Pedro Avila. What can he add to the San Diego Padres in 2018?
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The book on San Diego Padres RHP Pedro Avila.
First, the basics. Avila is a native of Venezuela, standing at just 5’11. While there is always a propensity to shy away from shorter pitchers, Avila has shown the ability to cross multiple planes and go deep into ballgames.
After joining the Padres, Avila pitched for High-A Lake Elsinore. At just 20, he struggled against older, more advanced hitters. Avila posted a 4.98 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP, but struck out 53 batters in 43 innings.
He was sent down to Fort Wayne in June to finish out the 2017 season. While there, Avila recorded 11 quality starts (14 total), a 1.04 WHIP, and a K/BB ratio of 117/15 in 85 innings. He broke a Fort Wayne record on August 8th by striking out 17 hitters over eight innings. He allowed just three hits and one earned run before retiring the final 19 batters.
What does Avila bring to the mound? Obviously, he can miss bats (354 career K’s in 285 innings). Armed with a very simple, easy delivery, Avila relies on placement and sequencing, rather than velocity or deception.
His fastball sits in the low-90’s and, according to scouting reports, flashes as a plus-pitch. His changeup is a work in progress which he needs to command better if he wants to make it as a starting pitcher. The curveball could develop into a plus-pitch. It has a beautiful 11-5 break. Avila just needs to tighten it up a bit and hit the plate with it on command.
Keep a close eye on how he performs in Lake Elsinore this season. Avila is a prospect that I believe will find a way into the Padres’ bullpen by the end of the season. The battle for the starting rotation is extremely deep and doesn’t favor Avila. However, he could develop well into a late-inning strikeout pitcher.