FORT WAYNE – The TinCaps’ season ended with a 9-5 loss to South Bend on Monday in the Midwest League Eastern Division Championship series.
Quite a few of the TinCaps are unlikely to get another shot at the Midwest League crown – and that’s a good thing. Manager Jose Valentin told his players in his final speech to his guys that he doesn’t want to see them again.
He wants them to move up.
From the first half of the season when Fort Wayne finished 43-26 to the latter half, when the TinCaps went 29-41, individuals on this squad showed promise.
Whether they achieve what they’re capable of is up to them, Valentin said.
You guys, your careers just started, Valentin told a quiet clubhouse after the loss. Make it a long one. Make it a long one and a good one.
Randy Smith, the vice president of player development and international scouting for the TinCaps’ parent team, the San Diego Padres, also saw promise in Fort Wayne’s prospects.
It’s a pretty good group, Smith said. There’s some guys we have pretty high hopes for.
Here are some of the players that stood out to him as the TinCaps went through their year.
Zach Eflin, RHP
Statistics: 7-6, 2.73 ERA, 86 Ks, 118 2/3 IP
The skinny: The 19-year-old led the Midwest League in ERA and is the No. 12 prospect in the Padres’ organization.
Smith’s take: Probably the least-publicized of the group of pitchers out of (Joe) Ross and (Max) Fried and (Walker) Weickel, but Eflin did just a great job.
Max Fried, LHP
Statistics: 6-7, 3.49 ERA, 100 Ks, 118 2/3 IP
The skinny: Fried was the only left-hander in the TinCaps’ starting rotation and is the top prospect in the San Diego farm system. He led Fort Wayne and was tied for 13th in the Midwest League in strikeouts.
Smith’s take: He’s got a great fastball. He’s got a good curveball. Changeup’s improving – I think it improved significantly. Pretty good year for a 19-year-old kid.
Joe Ross, RHP
Statistics: 5-8, 3.75 ERA, 79 Ks, 122 1/3 IP
The skinny: For Ross, the No. 13 prospect for the Padres, this was the first season of pro ball without an injury. He was the No. 1 man in the TinCaps’ rotation all season.
Smith’s take: I was real impressed with his maturity. I think his stuff, when he’s down in the zone, is very, very tough to hit.
Hunter Renfroe, OF
Statistics: .212 batting average, 3 HR, 23 games
The skinny: Renfroe, the Padres’ first-round pick in 2013, jumped from Short-Season Eugene to Fort Wayne late in the second half. He is the No. 6 prospect in the organization.
Smith’s take: Obviously, a very gifted athlete with power. Hopefully, the guy’s going to impact the major league team here in the near future.
Gabriel Quintana, 3B
Statistics: .305, 10 HR, 46 RBI
The skinny: Quintana missed six weeks in the middle of the year with a broken wrist but was one of Fort Wayne’s best hitters late in the year. He batted .345 in August, although his defense is a concern.
Smith’s take: Excellent year. I think he’s going to be a guy that swings the bat, can hit in the middle lineup.
Others to watch: Rodney Daal, catcher; Walker Weickel, pitcher; Ruben Mejia, pitcher; Alberth Martinez, outfielder; Mallex Smith, outfielder