The Reds do not have the strongest of Extended Spring rosters, in fact they might be the weakest in AZ right now, and this showed on Peoria on Saturday where they took on the Padres. The Padres did not roll out any of their bigger named prospects that are in Arizona right now, but they did put on a good showing.
One of the better names in baseball got the start on the hill for the Padres, as the 18 year old Henry Henry pitches three strong innings. He is a lanky right hander that threw mostly fastballs and changeups today, with his fastball sitting 92-94 with a downhill plane and good run. Jose Guzman was the second pitcher, and his breaking ball was untouchable, at least for the Reds. The pitcher who was truly intriguing was Dauris Valdez.
Valdez is every bit his listed 6’8” and 220 lbs., but comes in with a low 3/4 slot delivery that adds some deception in addition to his length. He was sitting 94-96 with his fastball and had a sweeping slider at 80-81. The slider is not sharp, but there is dip in it as well as break, so it was successful on this day. He showed a changeup while warming up, but he did not have much control of it and was clearly uncomfortable throwing it, even bending the arm at the elbow tipping it from a mile away.
At the plate, second baseman Ethan Skender had the biggest hit of the day, delivering a solo homerun over the scoreboard in left center. While Skender had the big home run, his double play partner was the one who impressed the most.
Justin Lopez was one of the many signings in the Padres spending spree at during the 2016 international signing period. He is best known for his defensive chops, and he looks very smooth at short with an arm that can definitely stick. He is a little taller than anticipated and has a body that looks like it can stay lean but definitely hold muscle. He led off the game with a beautiful inside-out liner over the second baseman’s head and took second on a great read on a ball headed for the dirt. His second AB was a bad strikeout looking that had him looking lost. His next two trips to the plate were from the left side after getting two at bats from the right side. His bat was noticeably slower from the left side and was behind on a few decent fastballs. He wound up hitting a sinking liner into center that was caught on a great play by the Reds center fielder, then a sharp comebacker to the pitcher. Regardless of the side of the plate he hits from, he had an approach looking up the middle and showed very good baseball instincts. He is someone who will likely be on prospect lists in the future.