The Fort Wayne TinCaps will start the season with six players ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 San Diego Padres prospects. If you go by MLB.com’s rankings, the number of top-30 prospects assigned to Fort Wayne rises to nine.
Regardless of which ranking system you go by, this much is certain: the TinCaps will be a team to watch — especially their pitching.
Four of Fort Wayne’s pitchers are on Baseball America‘s top-30 Padres prospects list: LHP Logan Allen (No. 8), RHP Austin Smith (No. 9), RHP Jacob Nix (No. 11) and RHP Enyel de los Santos (No. 15). In addition to those four, two other Fort Wayne pitchers are included on MLB.com’s Padres prospects list: RHP Phil Maton and Jean Cosme.
Allen split last season between the Gulf Coast League and the New York-Penn League, posting a 1.11 ERA with 26 strikeouts and one walk in 24 innings. The Padres acquired him from Boston in the Craig Kimbrel trade last November. Per Baseball America: “The Red Sox likened Allen internally to former Red Sox lefthander Jon Lester, for his delivery and body type. Allen won’t fill out physically like Lester, and no one suggests he has Lester’s ceiling, but he regularly worked at 92-93 mph in his debut.”
BA also says Allen showed “advance control and potential solid-average big-league command,” and that his fastball could develop into an above-average pitch.
Smith “has a clean arm action, a good delivery and three pitches that have flashed at least average,” according to Baseball America. Those three pitches are a fastball (clocked at 94-95 mph), a changeup, and a breaking ball. He made only nine starts last year, making Fort Wayne his first full-season assignment.
Nix also is making his full-season debut with the TinCaps. BA says he “tantalizes with easy fastball velocity up to 95 mph, but his secondary offerings are fringy at best.”
Fort Wayne’s top two position players are returnees: shortstop Ruddy Giron (No. 4) and outfielder Michael Gettys (No. 10).
Giron batted .285 with 9 HR, 49 RBI and 15 SB in 96 games with the TinCaps last year. His Midwest League debut was memorable, going 6-for-6 with five singles, a solo home run, a stolen base, and two runs scored. If the 19-year-old continues to hit like he did in 2015, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him promoted to High-A sometime during the season.
Gettys is impressive defensively. The centerfielder has great speed and a great arm, and finished last season tied for the Midwest League with 21 outfield assists. He struggled at the plate, hitting only .231 and striking out a MWL-worst 162 times in 122 games. Obviously he will be working to improve offensively this season.
Another position player to watch is catcher Austin Allen. He batted .240 in 53 Class A- games last year, but his potential is enough to have landed him the 27th spot on MLB.com’s ranking of top Padres prospects.
Click here to see the entire TinCaps roster.
This year’s TinCaps skipper is Anthony Contreras, a former Fort Wayne player who transitioned to managing in 2014. You can read about him here.