Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the San Diego Padres
news

Padres News

Reyes thriving with refined two-strike approach

MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- "Two-strike hitter" isn't exactly the first descriptor that comes to mind with Franmil Reyes.

Reyes is a strong, hulking right fielder with as much raw power as anyone on the planet. He certainly doesn't fit the mold of a typical two-strike pest.

View Full Game Coverage

SAN DIEGO -- "Two-strike hitter" isn't exactly the first descriptor that comes to mind with Franmil Reyes.

Reyes is a strong, hulking right fielder with as much raw power as anyone on the planet. He certainly doesn't fit the mold of a typical two-strike pest.

View Full Game Coverage

And yet, since he was recalled in August, Reyes has been exactly that. In Friday's 5-3 victory over the Dodgers, Reyes smashed a fourth-inning single to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest by a Padre this season. In that stretch, Reyes has eight two-strike hits, including a home run on Tuesday night.

"He thinks because he's got me with two strikes that he's going to strike me out," Reyes said. "I tell myself: 'No way. If you strike me out, OK, I'll tip my cap. But I'm going to fight you.' I'm going to battle for every pitch."

Reyes had 66 two-strike at-bats before he was demoted in late July. Entering play Saturday night, he also had 66 two-strike at-bats since he was recalled. The difference is stark:

Before:
Average: .106 (370th of 397)
Slugging: .212 (315th)
wOBA: .158 (377th)

After:
Average: .303 (fifth of 253)
Slugging: .500 (sixth)
wOBA: .384 (sixth)

"Franmil's doing an unbelievable job with two strikes," said Padres skipper Andy Green. "You just don't see guys that size able to get down into their base and fight like that with two strikes and shoot line drives all over the field."

So what's changed? Well, Reyes has completely overhauled his approach with two strikes -- to the point where his stance changes. Take a look at his pre-two-strike approach: specifically the closed, upright stance and the exaggerated leg kick.

Gif: Franmil Reyes homers off Zack Godley

Now, take a look at the two-strike approach: a more open, crouched stance and hardly any leg kick at all.

Gif: Franmil Reyes HR vs. Derek Holland

"When he gets down in his legs, gets his hands deeper, it's a declaration: 'I'm ready to grind right now, I'm ready to fight,'" Green said. "That's played very well for him."

"I forget about hitting the ball hard," Reyes said. "I just try to put the barrel on the ball."

Thing is: Reyes is so strong, his two-strike stance hardly costs him any power. Since he was recalled his average exit velocity with two strikes is 92.9 mph (the best mark on the Padres). With fewer than two strikes, it's 90.9 mph.

"Hitting with two strikes is important to me," Reyes said. "My teammates see that and they know I'm fighting. ... I practice my two-strike approach everywhere -- in batting practice, even on the tee."

Reyes is hitting .285/.343/.526 this season and has been a revelation for the Padres. At 23, he's lauded in the organization for his smarts at the plate and the adjustments he's already making in the big leagues. None has been more important to his success than his two-strike shift.

"I'm going to go up here three times and take my 'A' swing and hope it works out -- he's found in the big leagues that it's tough to be successful that way," Green said. "The physical adjustment's been real. The mental adjustment's been solid as well. ... He can do as much damage in that two-strike stance as he does early in the count."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Franmil Reyes

Lauer up to the task against first-place Dodgers

MLB.com @AJCassavell

LOS ANGELES -- The Padres wanted Eric Lauer on this stage. So much so, they shuffled their rotation with the sole purpose of giving the rookie left-hander a September start in Dodger Stadium, with Los Angeles in the midst of a pennant race.

Lauer lived up to the moment.

View Full Game Coverage

LOS ANGELES -- The Padres wanted Eric Lauer on this stage. So much so, they shuffled their rotation with the sole purpose of giving the rookie left-hander a September start in Dodger Stadium, with Los Angeles in the midst of a pennant race.

Lauer lived up to the moment.

View Full Game Coverage

Hunter Renfroe and Freddy Galvis homered, and Lauer was sharp for five innings, as the Padres opened their series in Los Angeles with a 5-3 victory on Friday night. The 23-year-old southpaw allowed one run while striking out five. Every time the Dodgers threatened, Lauer had an answer.

Video: SD@LAD: Galvis homers down right-field line in 7th

"A big part of it is acknowledging it and realizing: This is the spot, man, this is what I've worked for my whole life, to be in moments like this," Lauer said. "Now it's time to perform."

In the bottom of the fifth, Lauer put two men aboard, as his pitch count ran into the 90s. After Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner worked a two-out walk, manager Andy Green ambled from the top step of the dugout toward the mound.

Lauer noticed in the way Green was walking that this wouldn't be an immediate call to the bullpen. Green wanted to take the temperature of the situation.

"I put the ball in my glove," Lauer said. "I wasn't going to give it to him."

The truth is, Green never wanted to take it. And sure enough, Lauer blew a 1-2 fastball past Manny Machado, ending the threat and silencing the Dodger Stadium crowd.

Video: SD@LAD: Green on Lauer, Yates in win over Dodgers

"His composure is probably one of his greatest assets," Green said. "It's always there."

In particular, Lauer's dominance of the Dodgers has been a pleasant surprise for the Padres. He's made three starts against the five-time defending NL West champs this season, and he owns a 0.92 ERA.

"I don't know, he's brought his best against us," said Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts. "A couple guys had good swings, but I just think collectively we can't figure him out."

Lauer fell behind in the third when Enrique Hernandez took him deep, but the Padres' offense responded immediately. Franmil Reyes opened the fourth with a single, extending his hitting streak to 12 games -- the longest by a Padre this season.

Video: SD@LAD: Reyes singles to extend hit streak to 12

Two batters later Renfroe launched his 24th homer of the year into the left-field seats. Galvis tacked on a solo shot in the seventh and sparked a two-run rally with a leadoff single in the ninth. Over the past week, Galvis is 12-for-24 with a pair of homers and four doubles.

Wil Myers delivered the decisive blow, an opposite-field two-run double that gave the Padres a three-run lead in the ninth. With the loss, the Dodgers' edge over Colorado in the National League West race sits at just 1 1/2 games.

"We want to be the spoilers for them, just to do it," Lauer said. "Just because it's them. It's definitely cool getting a win in that environment."

Video: SD@LAD: Myers provides insurance with 2-run double 

YATES AT THE PLATE
Padres closer Kirby Yates recorded a huge strikeout to end the eighth, blowing a fastball by Cody Bellinger with the tying and go-ahead runs on base. In the ninth, he nailed down his 10th save by striking out Joc Pederson.

And yet, Yates' exploits on the mound paled in comparison to his adventures at the plate.

Video: SD@LAD: Yates K's Bellinger to end threat in the 8th

The Padres double-switched Yates into the game in the bottom of the eighth, and his place in the order came up after an intentional walk to Renfroe loaded the bases. Following the automatic free pass, Yates was nowhere near ready to bat and had to scramble to get into the box.

"It was a fire drill," Yates said. "I walked up to the plate, took a hack and put it in play."

Yates sent a grounder between shortstop and third, and for a moment his first-career hit seemed within reach. But Dodgers shortstop Machado made a brilliant play, throwing off-balance from the hole and beating Yates by half a step.

As Yates approached first base, his helmet came flying off, and he tripped over it, falling on his face beyond the bag. A smiling Yates quickly sprung to his feet and dusted himself off.

Video: SD@LAD: Machado flashes brilliance at short in 9th

"As a relief pitcher, you don't ever really get a chance to get an at-bat," Yates said. "You sniff a hit in the ninth inning -- it took me back to the glory days."

RENFROE ON A ROLL
Renfroe entered the 2018 season with a stigma: He absolutely raked against left-handers. But match him up with a righty, and it was game over.

That's changed in a big way. Of all the progress Renfroe has made this year, none is more noteworthy than his work against right-handed pitching.

In the top of the fourth inning, Renfroe smashed a 3-2 curveball from Dodgers righty Ross Stripling into the left-field seats. It was the 17th of his 24 homers to come against a right-hander this season. His .810 OPS against righties is 14 points better than his mark against lefties.

Video: SD@LAD: Renfroe clubs 2-run HR down the line in left

"One thing I always said: I've always hit righties my whole entire life," Renfroe said. "Last year got to the point where I couldn't figure it out. But this year I've made some strides, figured out a two-strike approach that's really worked for me. It's kind of all coming together right now. I'll just keep getting better." 

HE SAID IT
"He asked how I was feeling, if I was still strong. I said, 'Heck yeah, I'm still strong.'" -- Lauer, on his fifth-inning conversation with Green on the mound

UP NEXT
Jacob Nix is eyeing a strong finish to his rookie campaign, and he'll face the Dodgers Saturday night at 6:10 p.m. PT in what is scheduled to be his penultimate start of the season. Nix could use an uptick in strikeouts, but he's been able to induce plenty of weak contact since his August callup. The Dodgers counter Nix with veteran left-hander Rich Hill, who, at 38, is 16 years Nix's senior.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Eric Lauer

Padres find motivation in final set vs. Dodgers

MLB.com @AJCassavell

LOS ANGELES -- Contrary to the words of a certain Dodgers closer, the Padres do, indeed, care about their weekend series in Los Angeles. Very much so.

"We want to win just as much as they do," said Padres left fielder Hunter Renfroe.

View Full Game Coverage

LOS ANGELES -- Contrary to the words of a certain Dodgers closer, the Padres do, indeed, care about their weekend series in Los Angeles. Very much so.

"We want to win just as much as they do," said Padres left fielder Hunter Renfroe.

View Full Game Coverage

Earlier this week, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, talking about the series against the Padres, saying, "They don't care, they're already planning their vacations." His comment was in response to a question about the Dodgers' need to beat the teams well below them in the standings -- which they've struggled to do this season.

Jansen continued: "We need to come out there and swing and don't take [our foot] off the gas pedal."

Those words weren't exactly bulletin-board material in the Padres' clubhouse.

"I'm not worried about what he says at all," said Padres manager Andy Green. "I'm more worried about what he throws on the mound than what he says in the paper."

"It could've been any team," said third baseman Wil Myers. "It was a generic comment. ... It's not anything I take offense to or anything. But any time you come up here, face a team in the division, a rival, we're looking forward to it. We're excited about [this series]."

A couple Padres weren't even aware of Jansen's comment until it was brought to their attention before Friday's game. Renfroe was one of them, and he didn't seem to mind Jansen's words -- though he did clarify the importance of the series to the Padres.

"We've got a chance to knock them out, so for now that's what we play for," Renfroe said. "We want to make it hard on them. ... In the bigger picture, it wouldn't mean anything more than any other wins. But it does mean something to us right now."

Last month, the Padres were swept in a sloppy three-game series in Los Angeles. Since then, they've played better baseball. Perhaps more than anything, they're eager to get that sour taste out of their mouths.

"We've got a lot to show," Renfroe said.

Jankowski returns
Padres outfielder Travis Jankowski re-joined the club after missing the past two games to attend the birth of his son, Bentley.

Jankowski flew cross-country on Tuesday morning and arrived in his native Lancaster, Pa., hours before his wife, Lindsey, gave birth.

"It was tough to leave, spending less than 72 hours with him," Jankowski said with a smile.

Typically, the lefty-hitting Jankowski would've started Friday night against a right-hander like Ross Stripling, but Green held him out of the lineup, given the multiple cross-country flights over the past few days.

"I don't know how to describe it, other than it's unbelievable," Jankowski said.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres

Twitter-verified, Stock seeks celeb responses

There are a few milestones a Major League pitcher must reach in order for him to truly feel like he has made it: Throwing 100 mph, making his Major League debut and riding in a bullpen cart. Padres reliever Robert Stock has successfully hit each one of those checkpoints in the last year and now he can add something else to the list -- getting that blue checkmark on Twitter.

30 best games of '18 -- 1 player from each team

MLB.com @RichardJustice

We went in search of magic. That is, players rising up and doing something they may remember forever. Every team, all 30 of them, has moments like this.

From bunches of home runs to bunches of strikeouts, from household names to players you may not have heard of before, these are players that become part of the fabric of a season.

We went in search of magic. That is, players rising up and doing something they may remember forever. Every team, all 30 of them, has moments like this.

From bunches of home runs to bunches of strikeouts, from household names to players you may not have heard of before, these are players that become part of the fabric of a season.

Here we go: 30 special individual performances for 30 teams:

American League East

Blue Jays: Yangervis Solarte
Date: May 3 vs. CLE
The infielder collected five hits, including a decisive 11th-inning grand slam, in a 13-11 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field. He became the second player in the live-ball era with at least five hits, including an extra-inning grand slam. The other was Jim Rice in 1984.

Orioles: Manny Machado
Date: 
May 11 vs. TB
Machado hit two home runs, including a seventh-inning grand slam, and drove in six as the Orioles beat the Rays, 9-4, at Camden Yards. At 25, he became the youngest Orioles player to hit 150 home runs. "Words can't even describe how exciting that it is, reaching that milestone," he said.

Rays: Ji-Man Choi
Date: 
Sept. 10 vs. CLE
Choi's two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning produced a 6-5 victory over the Indians. In one swing, he kept Tampa Bay's postseason hopes alive and extended its home winning streak to 12 games.

Video: NYY@BOS: Betts his slam, collects four hits vs. Yanks

Red Sox: Mookie Betts
Date: 
April 10 vs. NYY
Betts scored five runs and collected four hits, including two doubles and a grand slam, in a 14-1 victory over the Yankees at Fenway Park.

Yankees: Luis Severino
Date:
May 2 at HOU
Severino struck out 10 Astros in the first complete game of his career, a 4-0 victory at Minute Maid Park. "I wouldn't want to be in the box facing him," teammate Giancarlo Stanton said. "He's going to pound the zone at 100 mph, and if you look on time for that, you're going to get that 90-mph slider. It's exactly what we needed tonight and another par-for-the-course outing for him."

AL CENTRAL

Video: Must C Clutch: Lindor homers twice to hold off Twins

Indians: Francisco Lindor
Date:
May 31 at MIN
Lindor had two doubles, two homers and four RBIs in a 9-8 win over the Twins at Target Field. He joined Adrian Beltre, Jim Edmonds and Rafael Palmeiro as the only players since 1908 to have two such games in the same season.

Royals: Jorge Lopez
Date:
Sept. 8 at MIN
Lopez took a perfect game into the ninth inning in the seventh start of his career. The 25-year-old right-hander walked the leadoff hitter in the ninth, then allowed a hit before departing in what would be a 4-1 win over the Twins at Target Field.

Tigers: Nicholas Castellanos
Date:
Aug. 13 vs. CWS
Castellanos went 5-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs in a 9-5 victory over the White Sox. Among the hits was a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning off Jeanmar Gomez.

Twins: Eddie Rosario
Date:
June 3 vs. CLE
With his father sitting a few feet from home plate, Eddie Rosario homered three times, including a two-run walk-off shot that gave the Twins a 7-5 victory over the Indians at Target Field. "It was Rosie's day," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I've seen a lot of good days in the big leagues. But I don't know if I've seen one that was more dramatic than that as far as the first inning all the way through the end."

White Sox: Matt Davidson
Date: 
March 29 at KC
Davidson became the fourth player to hit three home runs on Opening Day as the White Sox rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat the Royals, 14-7, at Kauffman Stadium. "What an incredible day he had," teammate James Shields said. "Really happy for him. He works his butt off every day, and to have a day like that is pretty special."

AL WEST

Video: LAA@NYY: Trout goes 5-for-5 with career-high 4 XBHs

Angels: Mike Trout
Date:
May 26 at NYY
Trout had a home run, three doubles and an infield single in an 11-4 victory at Yankee Stadium. "He's an unbelievable player and I think he showed that tonight," Yankees starter Sonny Gray said. "He put some good swings on the ball and in the fourth, he hit that homer. That was ultimately the icing on the cake for me."

Astros: Gerrit Cole
Date:
 May 4 at ARI
Cole struck out 16 D-backs in a one-hit complete game, an 8-0 victory at Chase Field. He finished it with a 99-mph fastball to strike out Jarrod Dyson. "Wow," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "It's hard to describe. It's an incredible display of pitching."

Athletics: Sean Manaea
Date:
April 21 vs. BOS
Manaea threw the seventh no-hitter in Oakland A's history in a 3-0 victory over the Red Sox at the Coliseum. "I've caught a lot of great pitchers in this game," A's catcher Jonathan Lucroy said, "and that was the most well-pitched, well-executed game I've ever had behind the plate."

Video: Paxton tosses sixth no-hitter in Mariners history

Mariners: James Paxton
Date:
May 8 at TOR
Paxton returned to his native Canada to no-hit the Blue Jays, 5-0, at Rogers Centre. It was the first complete game of his career. "To have it happen in Canada. What are the odds?" Paxton said. "Just very special."

Rangers: Rougned Odor
Date:
July 28 at HOU
Odor hit two home runs and had a double and two singles in a 7-3 victory at Minute Maid Park. "We talked about finding his swagger, getting his swagger back, getting that confidence back," then-Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Know that you're a really good player and just go show it and stay focused on every single pitch."

NL EAST

Video: Must C Classic: Acuna's 2 homers make history

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
Date:
Aug. 14 vs. MIA
Acuna homered twice and added a single in a 10-6 victory over the Marlins at SunTrust Park. The 20-year-old hit the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first inning to become the youngest player ever to homer in five consecutive games. "He's the best player I've ever seen," Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte said. "He's just unbelievable."

Marlins: Jose Urena
Date:
Aug. 19 at WSH
Urena retired the final 16 Nationals in a complete-game 12-1 victory at Nationals Park. "You can just see the fire in his eyes every time he's out there," Marlins shortstop JT Riddle said.

Video: NYM@CHC: deGrom K's 10, notches 2 hits vs. Cubs

Mets: Jacob deGrom
Date:
Aug. 28 at CHC
deGrom struck out 10 Cubs and allowed one run in an eight-inning masterpiece of a loss at Wrigley Field. "The guy is as advertised," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's different. That's another level of stuff."

Nationals: Max Scherzer
Date:
May 6 vs. PHI
Scherzer struck out 15 Phillies in 6 1/3 innings in a 5-4 victory at Nationals Park. He was the first pitcher in history to get 15 strikeouts in 6 1/3 (or fewer) innings. "He doesn't slow," Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. "I watch him in the gym. I watch him watch video. His mind is constantly going and constantly learning."

Phillies: Odubel Herrera
Date:
June 22 at WSH
Herrera scored four runs and had four hits, including a homer, in a 12-2 victory at Nationals Park. "It's simply incredible what he can do," teammate Zach Eflin said. "The thing with Odubel is that he can shake off anything at any given time. He can look like he's struggling and next pitch he sends it 440 feet."

NL CENTRAL

Video: MIL@CIN: Yelich records cycle with 6 hits, shows arm

Brewers: Christian Yelich
Date:
Aug. 29 at CIN
Yelich hit for the cycle -- the first of two Yelich cycles this season -- and had six hits in all in a 13-12, 10-inning victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park. "I've never seen a game like that," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He's coming up there and you're thinking he can't do it again, and he does it again."

Cardinals: Matt Carpenter
Date:
July 20 at CHC
Carpenter became the second player in MLB history to hit three homers and two doubles in a game. He did it all in in six innings in an 18-5 victory at Wrigley Field. "I'm having a hard time coming up with words to describe a day like this," Carpenter said.

Cubs: David Bote
Date:
Aug. 12 vs. WSH
Bote delivered a pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning at Wrigley Field to turn a 3-0 loss into a 4-3, walk-off victory over the Nationals. He became the first Cubs player to hit a pinch-hit walk-off grand slam since Earl Averill in 1959.

Pirates: Jameson Taillon
Date:
April 8 vs. CIN
Taillon tossed a one-hitter and drove in Pittsburgh's first run in a 5-0 victory over over the Reds at PNC Park. It was Pittsburgh's first complete-game one-hitter since A.J. Burnett shut out the Cubs in 2012. "This guy, he's special," Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli said.

Reds: Scooter Gennett
Date:
May 26 at COL
Gennett collected five hits -- a first-inning home run and four singles -- and was part of a game-ending defensive play to close out a 6-5 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field.

NL WEST

D-Backs: A.J. Pollock
Date:
April 30 vs. LAD
Pollock hit three home runs in an 8-5 win at Chase Field. "I'm seeing the ball pretty well right now," he said. "I don't know. Some days it just works."

Video: Must C Classic: Puig crushes 3 homers vs. Cardinals

Dodgers: Yasiel Puig
Date:
Sept. 15 at STL
Puig launched three home runs and drove in seven runs in a 17-4 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Puig explained his power surge as only he can: He said the grasshoppers that have swarmed Busch Stadium have gotten him going. He said he considered eating one or two. Manager Dave Roberts had a better explanation. "He's focused and he understands the importance of every pitch," he said. "And when he does that, he's as good as anybody in baseball."

Giants: Andrew McCutchen
Date:
April 7 vs. LAD
McCutchen went 6-for-7 with four RBIs, including a walk-off home run, in a 14-inning, 7-5 victory over the Dodgers at AT&T Park. Giants manager Bruce Bochy called the victory "epic" and added, "It's one of those Giants-Dodgers games that will be talked about."

Padres: Christian Villanueva
Date:
April 3 vs. COL
Villanueva belted three home runs in his 14th career game in an 8-4 victory over the Rockies at Petco Park. "I have a lot of dreams, I have a lot of goals, and I think, little by little, I'm starting to reach them," Villanueva said.

Rockies: DJ LeMahieu
Date:
June 28 at SF
LeMahieu's go-ahead home run at AT&T Park probably did more than give the Rockies a 9-8 victory. It came at a time when they were in fourth place in the NL West and had fallen eight games off the pace. There was speculation they might sell at the Trade Deadline. The Rockies won 44 of their next 69 games. Only the Cubs did better in that time.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Padres mourn loss of scouting exec Welke

MLB.com

Don Welke, the Padres' vice president of scouting operations, has died, the club confirmed on Thursday. He was 75.

A veteran of 50-plus seasons in professional baseball, Welke joined the Padres in 2014 after eight seasons with the Rangers. He began his career with the Reds in 1965 and also held roles with the Phillies (2006), Dodgers (1999-2004), Orioles (1996-99), Blue Jays (1977-96) and Royals (1970-76).

Don Welke, the Padres' vice president of scouting operations, has died, the club confirmed on Thursday. He was 75.

A veteran of 50-plus seasons in professional baseball, Welke joined the Padres in 2014 after eight seasons with the Rangers. He began his career with the Reds in 1965 and also held roles with the Phillies (2006), Dodgers (1999-2004), Orioles (1996-99), Blue Jays (1977-96) and Royals (1970-76).

Throughout his career, Welke had a hand in signing stars such as Dave Stieb, Pat Hentgen, John Olerud, Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus.

"He was a legend in the baseball world and an invaluable member of the Padres front office," Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler and general partner Peter Seidler said in a statement. "Don was a super scout and a super guy, and we will miss him greatly."

Video: SD@LAD: Green on passing of scouting VP Don Welke

"Don had a tremendous career in baseball, both as a talent evaluator and in the relationships that he built," said Padres executive vice president and general manager A.J. Preller in a statement. "He was a visionary who knew and loved baseball, and he shared that knowledge and passion with me and countless other scouts throughout his five decades in the game. Beyond his accomplishments, Don was a loyal and generous friend. Everyone whose lives he touched was better for having known him."

Welke was named Midwest Scout of the Year at the 2012 Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., and received the Legends in Scouting Award from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation in 2011. He also worked as an advance scout for Team USA at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the 2003 Olympic qualifier in Panama. The Rangers organization's Scout of the Year Award is named after Welke, the inaugural winner of the award in 2011.

An Illinois native, Welke played baseball and basketball at Carthage College in Wisconsin and was named to the school's hall of fame as well as the hall of fame for his high school in Harvard, Ill. Welke also received a degree from Eastern Michigan University.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

San Diego Padres

Youth is served: Padres' best rookie this season

MLB.com

Each year, a new group of rookies sets out to make a mark in the Major Leagues, and in 2018, many of these young players have made history with their performances. They're fueling clubs during postseason races, as well as giving fans a glimpse of what's to come in the years ahead.

With the aid of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's a look at each team's best rookie this season:

Each year, a new group of rookies sets out to make a mark in the Major Leagues, and in 2018, many of these young players have made history with their performances. They're fueling clubs during postseason races, as well as giving fans a glimpse of what's to come in the years ahead.

With the aid of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's a look at each team's best rookie this season:

Video: Callis looks at rookies' long-term futures

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Ryan Borucki
Borucki has opened his Major League career with quality starts in 10 of his first 15 outings. Even though Borucki did not make his debut until the end of June, he has the third-most starts of at least six innings and two runs or fewer among Major League rookies. Only San Francisco's Dereck Rodriguez has registered more of those starts this season. Borucki appears to be a future cornerstone of the Blue Jays' rotation and his rookie campaign has been an overwhelming success with a 3.86 ERA.

Orioles: Cedric Mullins
It's been a tough year for Baltimore, but Mullins has given O's fans a glimmer of hope in the past two months. Since becoming the first Oriole to record three hits in his debut, the center fielder -- who moved Adam Jones over to right -- has showcased his range and speed and has become a table-setter for a lineup that sorely needs more dynamic players.

Rays: Joey Wendle
Tampa Bay acquired Wendle from Oakland during the Winter Meetings -- the same day the Yankees finalized their acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton. Many found humor in how the Rays "answered" their division foe's acquisition. Wendle has hardly been a joke, though. He's played second base, third base, shortstop, right field and left field. While Wendle's glove has been dazzling as billed, particularly at second, his bat has been equally so. He always seems to be in the middle of rallies. Wendle has above-average speed and runs out every ball, and he's shown decent power. He has been a big reason for Tampa Bay's marked improvement this season.

Red Sox: Brian Johnson
Out of options, Johnson had no option but to become a dependable contributor for the Red Sox this season, and that's exactly what he has done. Though he has unspectacular numbers (4-4, 4.24 ERA), Johnson has been one of the most important members of the pitching staff for manager Alex Cora because of his ability to move seamlessly between the bullpen and starting rotation, and often doing both roles within days of each other. In 12 starts, Johnson is 4-2 with a 4.06 ERA. He could have a few more wins, but he was taken out just shy of five innings numerous times.

Yankees: Miguel Andujar
Nothing was handed to Andujar, who made the most of an early-season opportunity when Brandon Drury landed on the disabled list to grab hold of the third-base job. Andujar's calling card is his bat, and he quickly cemented a reputation as an extra-base hit machine, tallying the third-most extra-base hits by a rookie in Yankees history behind Joe DiMaggio (88) and Aaron Judge (79). The AL Rookie of the Month in June and August, Andujar has worked to polish his defense. With Gleyber Torres also enjoying a strong season, the Yanks have two legitimate choices to follow Judge as the AL Rookie of the Year Award winner.

Video: BOS@NYY: Andujar opens scoring with a solo HR in 2nd

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Shane Bieber
Indians manager Terry Francona jokes that Chris Antonetti, the team's president of baseball operations, did not bring Bieber to MLB camp in the spring because the manager would not have let the pitcher return to the Minors. Bieber, 23, cruised through Double-A and Triple-A, posting a 1.47 ERA with 77 strikeouts vs. seven walks in 79 2/3 innings. When the back of Cleveland's rotation ran into some issues, Bieber rose to the big leagues. He debuted in late May and returned for good in June. The rookie has enjoyed a promising campaign and figures to be a part of the Tribe's postseason pitching staff.

Royals: Brad Keller
Keller, a right-hander, was an absolute steal in the Rule 5 Draft. He started the season in the bullpen and eventually graduated to the rotation, where he has been arguably the Royals' best starter and certainly a top-of-the-rotation guy moving forward. Opposing hitters throughout the season have called facing Keller an "uncomfortable at-bat." His four-seam fastball, which hovers around 93-95 mph, moves like a cutter, and he has worked to develop an effective slider and changeup. During a recent six-game stretch, Keller went 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA, permitting just a .645 OPS. While Keller, 23, likely won't win the AL Rookie of the Year Award -- especially with Shohei Ohtani, Torres and Andujar in the running -- he at least deserves some consideration. Keller is a lock for the rotation in 2019.

Tigers: Niko Goodrum
The Tigers took a chance on the former Twins second-round pick, extending a Spring Training invite in the hopes that his versatility and athleticism would help him stick while learning on the job in the big leagues. Much to their surprise, Goodrum has become essentially an everyday player and a cog in Detroit's lineup, with a .741 OPS that ranks second on the team to Nicholas Castellanos. He has made a start at every defensive position except center field, catcher and pitcher.

Twins: Jake Cave
The Twins took a chance on Cave in March, acquiring him from the Yankees for Minor League right-hander Luis Gil, and Cave has responded with a strong rookie season. The 25-year-old wasn't expected to play much this season, but with center fielder Byron Buxton out most of the year because of injuries and offensive inconsistency, the left-handed-hitting Cave has filled in nicely. He's capable of playing all three outfield positions and has shown some power offensively, hitting .257/.300/.458 with 11 homers and 13 doubles through his first 82 career games.

White Sox: Daniel Palka
The White Sox picked up the left-handed slugger off waivers from the Twins on Nov. 3, 2017. While he didn't break camp with the team, Palka not only leads the White Sox in home runs, but also set a single-season franchise record for most homers from a left-handed-hitting rookie. Palka has a knack for the big hit, having knocked out six home runs in the ninth inning. Left-handed reliever Jace Fry made a solid late-inning rookie impression, but Palka provided the biggest power boost.

Video: CWS@CLE: Palka breaks scoreless tie with HR to center

AL WEST

Angels: Shohei Ohtani
A rocky Spring Training created some questions about how Ohtani's talent would translate to the Majors, but he quickly erased those doubts once the regular season began. For two months, he dazzled as a two-way phenom for the Angels, emerging as a dominant right-handed pitcher with a triple-digit fastball and devastating splitter and an impact left-handed bat with impressive raw power. An elbow injury derailed his magical season and led to a Tommy John surgery recommendation earlier this month, but it hasn't prevented Ohtani from continuing to hit. He is the first player to log 10 pitching appearances and hit 20 home runs in a season since Babe Ruth in 1919, making him a front-runner for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

Video: SEA@LAA: Ohtani goes back-to-back with Trout for 20th

Astros: Max Stassi
Stassi made his Major League debut during the Astros' 111-loss season of 2013, and he has bounced between the big leagues and Triple-A each season since while maintaining his rookie status. He's spent most of this year as Houston's backup catcher to Brian McCann, and he is hitting .233 with eight homers and 27 RBIs through 85 games. Stassi was on pace to catch more games than McCann, who missed a chunk of time with knee surgery, and Martin Maldonado, who was acquired in a July trade and cost Stassi significant playing time down the stretch.

Athletics: Lou Trivino
Trivino has been an absolute godsend for what's become a deep and dangerous Oakland bullpen, arriving in late April and quickly taking over setup duties behind All-Star closer Blake Treinen with a high-90s fastball and a mid-90s cutter -- a devastating duo. The flamethrowing right-hander singlehandedly bridged the gap for much of the first half before the midseason arrivals of Jeurys Familia, Shawn Kelley and Fernando Rodney, working multiple innings more times than not. Center fielder Ramon Laureano, who has been superb on both sides of the ball since his August promotion, also deserves consideration.

Mariners: Daniel Vogelbach
The 25-year-old first baseman made the Opening Day roster after a huge spring, then was sent down when he struggled at the plate in April. But after putting up good numbers again in Triple-A, Vogelbach has flashed his power potential with a couple of big home runs this week as a September callup, including a game-winning pinch-hit grand slam to beat the Astros on Monday.

Rangers: Ronald Guzman
This is a tossup between Guzman and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who did a terrific job in a utility role that included time at catcher. But Guzman has emerged as the Rangers' first baseman of the future by showing power, run production and superb defensive ability. There is still more improvement and development needed, but Guzman is among the AL rookie leaders in home runs and RBIs. His emergence also allowed Joey Gallo to take over in left field, which had been a troubled spot for Texas.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Video: STL@ATL: Acuna Jr. belts a solo smash for his 26th HR

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
Acuna has lived up to his top prospect status, as he spent the season's second half producing numbers baseball has seldom seen from a player who has not yet turned 21 years old. He introduced himself to the Majors in April and then suffered a late-May knee injury that sidelined him for a month. But when Acuna was moved to the top of Atlanta's lineup immediately after the All-Star break, the 20-year-old outfielder suddenly became one of the game's top catalysts and power threats. He became a strong NL Rookie of the Year Award candidate and likely earned some down-ballot NL MVP Award consideration.

Marlins: Brian Anderson
Not only has Anderson been the Marlins' top rookie in 2018, he has established himself as one of the young faces of the franchise. He's also built a case to be a top-five finisher in the NL Rookie of the Year Award balloting. On the big league roster from wire to wire, Anderson has played third base and right field. He will lead all NL rookies in games played and hits.

Mets: Jeff McNeil
McNeil was never a top prospect, and when he arrived in the big leagues, he first drew attention for his unusual knobless bat. But since he took over at second base following the Asdrubal Cabrera trade, he's been a revelation at the plate, commanding attention for his outstanding contact ability and all-around hitting prowess. McNeil hasn't slowed down, either -- he leads all rookies in hitting since his July 24 debut, including 17 multihit games in 54 contests, and is second among all players in triples in that span, with five.

Nationals: Juan Soto
Soto wasn't even the Nats' most heralded prospect coming into the year -- that was Victor Robles. But he's hit at an almost unprecedented level for his age, putting himself on lists alongside names like Griffey and Harper. Soto's combination of plate discipline and power marks him as a future star. He's not only a top NL Rookie of the Year Award candidate; he might even get some down-ballot consideration in the crowded NL MVP Award field.

Video: Must C Classic: Soto youngest to swipe 3 bags in game

Phillies: Seranthony Dominguez
One of the reasons the Phillies held first place in the NL East as late as Aug. 12 is Dominguez, who joined Philadelphia's bullpen in May. He posted a 1.85 ERA in 34 appearances through Aug. 3, striking out 49 and walking 13 in 39 innings, becoming manager Gabe Kapler's most trusted weapon with the game on the line. Dominguez struggled down the stretch as the former starter adjusted to a new role, but there is no question NL East batters are not looking forward to facing him in the future.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Freddy Peralta
Taylor Williams pitched in more games and Corbin Burnes is playing the most significant role among Brewers rookies down the stretch, but in terms of aggregate value this season, Peralta gets the nod. By making 14 starts, including a history-making 13-strikeout Major League debut on Mother's Day, Peralta helped hold together a starting rotation that was a quiet strength for much of the year despite Jimmy Nelson's year-long absence and significant disabled list time for Zach Davies, Wade Miley and others. Among Major League starters who pitched at least 70 innings, only Chris Sale had a lower opponents' average than Peralta.

Cardinals: Jack Flaherty
With respect to Harrison Bader (3.5 fWAR), Jordan Hicks (105 mph fastball) and Yairo Munoz (.275 average), it's Flaherty who has emerged as the star of St. Louis' loaded rookie crop -- and the Cardinals' new ace. Premature? Not if you consider how the on-the-playoff-bubble Cards manipulated their rotation so Flaherty will be on turn to start their most important game of the year, whether that's the NL Wild Card Game or a must-win during the season's final series. The 22-year-old has earned the responsibility: He ranks among the NL rookie starter leaders in strikeouts (first), starts (second), innings (second), ERA (fourth), wins (first), fWAR (second) and WHIP (third).

Cubs: David Bote
An 18th-round Draft pick in 2012, Bote was pressed into duty when Kris Bryant was injured and has delivered in the clutch. On July 26 against the D-backs, he smacked a game-tying two-run homer with one out in the ninth. On Aug. 12 against the Nationals, Bote delivered a pinch-hit walk-off grand slam in the ninth. That blast helped teach people how to pronounce his last name (it's bow-tee). He hit another walk-off homer on Aug. 24 against the Reds and is the first Cub since Bryant in 2015 with two walk-off homers in one season. Bote has helped support the Cubs' motto to be versatile, starting at second, third, shortstop and in the outfield.

Video: David Bote's heroics vs. the Nationals this season

Pirates: Richard Rodriguez
Far from a household name, the 28-year-old rookie has become a vital part of Pittsburgh's bullpen in his first extended Major League opportunity. Signed as a Minor League free agent, Rodriguez entered the week with a 2.57 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in 63 innings over 56 appearances. Rodriguez doesn't possess overwhelming stuff, but he's getting the job done with a 92.9-mph four-seam fastball he throws about 75 percent of the time plus a swing-and-miss slider.

Reds: Jesse Winker
Winker gets the nod despite having his season cut in half by injury. After a slow start, he found his stroke and some power. Overall, Winker batted .299/.405/.431 in 89 games but was slashing .362/.465/.554 in June and July before his year was halted by right shoulder surgery in his non-throwing arm to repair an injury that nagged him even in the Minors. Expected to be fully recovered by Spring Training, the 25-year-old with great plate discipline could be an even bigger offensive threat when fully healthy.

NL WEST

D-backs: Yoshihisa Hirano
While Hirano is technically a rookie as far as Major League Baseball is concerned, he certainly was not inexperienced coming into this season after spending 11 seasons pitching in Japan. The D-backs signed him to a two-year contract during the offseason, and he has more than met their expectations. Used primarily in a setup role through the first five months of the season, Hirano's effectiveness -- along with his unflappable makeup -- eventually got him moved into the de facto closer's role in September.

Dodgers: Walker Buehler
In any year not involving Acuna or Soto, the Dodgers' 24-year-old sensation would likely have been a favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year Award. Since his April recall from the Minor Leagues, Buehler was a steady presence through Clayton Kershaw's extended absence and has since cemented himself beside Los Angeles' ace at the top of the rotation, allowing two or fewer runs in 17 of his 21 starts. With the Dodgers embroiled in a tight divisional race, he has a 1.62 ERA since the start of August, and with his season mark at 2.74, he could become Los Angeles' first rookie starter to post an ERA under 3.00 with at least 20 starts since Hideo Nomo in 1995.

Video: COL@LAD: Buehler K's career-high 12 over 6 frames

Giants: Dereck Rodriguez
The son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez is steadily establishing his own identity as a ballplayer as well as his candidacy for a respectable finish in the NL Rookie of the Year Award balloting. The 26-year-old, who converted to pitching from playing the outfield, demonstrated his consistency by pitching at least six innings and allowing two or fewer runs in nine consecutive starts. Despite their losing record overall, the Giants are 9-8 when Rodriguez starts. What makes Rodriguez's story even more remarkable is that he did not pitch above Double-A in Minnesota's farm system last year. San Francisco signed him as a Minor League free agent last November.

Padres: Franmil Reyes
Reyes was left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft last December after leading all Padres Minor Leaguers in home runs in 2017. Thankfully for San Diego, he went unselected. Reyes' power is otherworldly, and he's made huge strides with his approach at the plate. The hulking 6-foot-5, 275-pounder is still a liability defensively. But he's grown into a legit middle-of-the-order game-changer.

Rockies: Ryan McMahon
Drafted as a third baseman but blocked at the hot corner by one Nolan Arenado, the 23-year-old McMahon made the Opening Day roster with eyes on the starting first-base job, but he was beat out by veteran Ian Desmond. After struggles at the plate and two extended Minor League stints, McMahon's .330 on-base percentage since his July 29 recall is fourth among Rockies. He has also shown a penchant for clutch homers -- four of his five 2018 long balls have come late in close games with Colorado trailing, including a memorable three-run walk-off shot against the Dodgers on Aug. 11.

Myers' two-run homer caps five-run inning

MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- No matter what he does over the next 10 days, Wil Myers' 2018 season is going to be remembered as a tumultuous one.

He spent 73 games on the disabled list with an assortment of injuries, and earlier this month he found himself entangled in controversy (of his own doing). At the plate, he's been OK, but he never hit his stride. He's also struggled with a midseason transition to third base.

View Full Game Coverage

SAN DIEGO -- No matter what he does over the next 10 days, Wil Myers' 2018 season is going to be remembered as a tumultuous one.

He spent 73 games on the disabled list with an assortment of injuries, and earlier this month he found himself entangled in controversy (of his own doing). At the plate, he's been OK, but he never hit his stride. He's also struggled with a midseason transition to third base.

View Full Game Coverage

And yet, there are still moments like Wednesday night, when Myers offers a reminder of what he's capable. In the Padres' 8-4 victory over the Giants at Petco Park, Myers crushed a long two-run homer into the home bullpen, putting San Diego on top for good.

"It was nice just to do something in a bigger situation, which I haven't done a lot of in recent weeks," Myers said.

Video: SD@SF: Myers discusses win over Giants

"He's had those stops and starts," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Most of it's been injuries, just having a hard time finding that consistent rhythm. ... It's probably not the type of offensive year he was looking for. But he's still done some very nice things. I think that was evident tonight."

The home run was Myers' 11th of the season, and he's the first to point out that that number needs to be higher for a guy who expects to anchor the middle of a lineup.

He averaged 29 homers over the past two years. But even in those seasons, Myers went through prolonged struggles. Since joining the Padres in December 2014, it's felt as though Myers has left something on the table all four years.

"I'm obviously talented, but have not put together a whole season to my capability yet," Myers said. "That's what I want to do. I'm going to try to take those steps this offseason. I'm going to really work to truly put a full season together."

Meanwhile, Padres left-hander Robbie Erlin was mostly sharp over five innings Wednesday night. He faltered only once, in the top of the second inning, when he allowed a three-run double to Chris Stratton, the opposing pitcher.

Video: SF@SD: Erlin strikes out Hundley to end the 5th

The San Diego offense responded in no time. The first four batters in the bottom of the frame all managed to reach base after falling into a two-strike hole. Manuel Margot added a two-strike sacrifice fly. And after Erlin's sacrifice bunt, Myers went deep on a 3-2 slider from Stratton.

"Those successive two-strike at-bats leading until Wil hit his home run, that was as good a stretch as we had all year," Green said.

Video: SF@SD: Padres put up 5 runs in the 2nd inning

The score remained 5-3 until the eighth, when the Giants clawed one back on Aramis Garcia's solo home run. But Freddy Galvis responded with a three-run blast in the bottom of the frame, putting the game out of reach.

GALVIS IN A GROOVE
Barring injury, Galvis will be the only player in the Majors to play all 162 games in consecutive seasons. Somehow, he's putting together arguably his best offensive stretch in late September.

The switch-hitting Galvis went 4-for-5 on Tuesday night, and he knocked in four runs with a pair of hits on Wednesday. He's 10-for-20 with five extra-base hits during his current five-game hitting streak, and his homer came on a 99 mph fastball from right-hander Ray Black.

Video: SF@SD: Galvis mashes a 3-run homer to right

"That's a lot of velo he turned around right there," Green said.

Galvis' glove is excellent, but he isn't particularly pleased with his overall offensive performance this season. He's batting .240/.293/.368 -- all below his marks from 2017.

"Offensively, this is not where I want to be," Galvis said. "For sure I want to produce more. I want to help the team more. But you can't complain. I have to keep working, try to do my best and finish strong, go to the offseason and try to get better."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Padres partnered with Make-A-Wish San Diego to give 5-year-old Levi Smith the experience of a lifetime on Wednesday evening. Smith -- an ardent Padres fan born with a congenital heart condition -- signed a one-day contract with the club and spent the day hanging around his favorite players.

When the Padres took the field before the game, so did Smith. For pregame warmups, Smith fielded the first ground ball thrown from Eric Hosmer. The kid's got a pretty good arm.

Video: SF@SD: Make-A-Wish kid takes the field with Padres 

UP NEXT
After an off-day Thursday, the Padres open a three-game series with the Dodgers in Los Angeles beginning Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT. The Padres tweaked their rotation so they'd have three rookies pitching at Dodger Stadium this weekend, giving them exposure to a pennant-race environment. On Friday night, Eric Lauer takes the hill opposite fellow left-hander Rich Hill.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Robbie Erlin

Mejia has been impressive in September

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

Rowdy Tellez broke out as one of the game's better first-base prospects with 23 homers and a .917 OPS as a 21-year-old in Double-A in 2016, but he produced a total of just 19 homers with a .692 OPS during the next two seasons in Triple-A. Nevertheless, the Blue Jays called him up on Sept. 4 to get a glimpse of how he might fit in their future.

Rowdy Tellez broke out as one of the game's better first-base prospects with 23 homers and a .917 OPS as a 21-year-old in Double-A in 2016, but he produced a total of just 19 homers with a .692 OPS during the next two seasons in Triple-A. Nevertheless, the Blue Jays called him up on Sept. 4 to get a glimpse of how he might fit in their future.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Since then, Tellez (No. 28 on the Blue Jays Top 30) has been Toronto's best hitter. He became the first player in the live-ball era to deliver extra-base hits in each of his three plate appearances, and he's batting .385/.400/.744 with a pair of home runs through 40 trips to the plate. It's a small sample size and he has been used mostly in a platoon role facing right-handers, but he definitely has boosted his prospect status.

Signed for a well above-slot $850,000 as a 30th-rounder in 2013, Tellez is the 12th big leaguer to come out of Elk Grove (Calif.) High, also the alma mater of J.D. Davis, David Freitas, David Hernandez and the No. 4 overall pick in this year's Draft, Nick Madrigal. He offers an intriguing combination of left-handed power potential and plate discipline, even if his home run numbers dropped the last two years.

Toronto doesn't have an obvious opening for Tellez in its 2019 lineup, so he may have to swallow some more time in Triple-A. The Jays' two best hitters this season have been Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales, who occupy the two positions (first base and DH) that Tellez can play and are both under contract for next year.

Video: TB@TOR: Tellez smacks a 2-run homer to right-center

Even if his immediate future isn't clear, Tellez's present is spectacular. Here are four other September callups with notable performances:

Josh James, RHP, Astros
After leading the Minors in strikeout rate (13.5), the Astros No. 6 prospect has blown away hitters in the Majors as well. He has 24 strikeouts in 16 innings, along with a 2.81 ERA, a win in two starts and a pair of holds in two relief appearances. He has averaged 97 mph with his fastball and 86 mph with his slider, and it would behoove the Astros to find space on their postseason roster to include him.

Video: SEA@HOU: James strikes out 7 in 1st career win

Francisco Mejia, C, Padres
The top-rated catcher (No. 21 overall) on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, Mejia homered twice in his first start for the Padres, who acquired him from the Indians in July in exchange for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. Curiously for a player who needs to polish his receiving and a team that needs to figure out if it would be better off making the most out of his bat by moving its No. 3 prospect to a less challenging position, he has started only five more games since behind the plate. He's hitting .242/.306/.545 with three homers in 36 plate appearances.

Video: Must C Clutch: Galvis ties it, Mejia's slam wins it

Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Blue Jays
Toronto's No. 10 prospect has a pair of 10-strikeout efforts in three September starts, including one with five shutout innings against the Yankees, and a 3.86 ERA, 23 whiffs and a .186 opponent average in 16 2/3 innings this month. He works mainly with a low-90s fastball with life and a low-80s slider that has been absolutely filthy. According to FanGraphs, his slider has been worth 3.3 runs above average per 100 pitches -- which would make it the second-most valuable slider behind only Blake Snell's (3.8) if he had enough innings to qualify.

Video: TOR@NYY: Reid-Foley fans 10, tosses 5 shutout innings

Christin Stewart, OF, Tigers
Stewart has slammed 83 homers in the Minors during the last three seasons, and he hit the first two of his big league career as part of a six-RBI night against the Royals. The Tigers' No. 6 prospect's penchant for drawing walks also has translated, as he has six in 46 plate appearances while batting .256/.370/.436. He should be a regular part of the Tigers' 2019 lineup as a left fielder/DH.

Video: KC@DET: Stewart belts his 1st two career home runs

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Padres go all out for Make-A-Wish child

Levi Smith's mom says it was 'best day of his life'
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres signed a promising young right-hander on Wednesday afternoon. Then they gave him the experience of a lifetime.

Five-year-old Levi Smith -- an ardent Padres fan born with a congenital heart condition -- signed a one-day contract with the team, and he made the most of his day with the club. In partnership with Make-A-Wish San Diego, the Padres hosted Smith for the day. He took grounders in the infield, ran the bases and even got his own locker in the home clubhouse.

View Full Game Coverage

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres signed a promising young right-hander on Wednesday afternoon. Then they gave him the experience of a lifetime.

Five-year-old Levi Smith -- an ardent Padres fan born with a congenital heart condition -- signed a one-day contract with the team, and he made the most of his day with the club. In partnership with Make-A-Wish San Diego, the Padres hosted Smith for the day. He took grounders in the infield, ran the bases and even got his own locker in the home clubhouse.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's excitement that I don't even know how to express," said Hannah Smith, Levi's mom. "He's having the best day of his life. This is as special to him as anything could be."

Tweet from @Padres: A warm #Padres welcome for Levi from @wishsandiego!His wish? To meet the Padres 🤗 pic.twitter.com/clguJx9QOY

Smith arrived in the players' parking lot in style via limousine. He proceeded through the tunnel to the clubhouse and received a standing ovation from dozens upon dozens of Padres' staff.

Afterward, Smith put pen to paper with Andy Green in the manager's office. Green showed Smith to his locker, where he spent time hanging out with the players. In one corner, a handful of relief pitchers invited Smith to shoot hoops with them on a mini basket they'd stationed on the wall.

Tweet from @Padres: Levi is officially a Padre for the day! ������ pic.twitter.com/Y4hVNUW5sR

All the while, Smith beamed. As a result of his heart condition, he was placed in the NICU, where he had surgery and a pacemaker inserted when he was 10 days old. His parents noted that he watches every Padres game at night -- and then again on replay in the morning.

"Right after his last surgery, I remember him getting home, and the first thing he was excited to do was watch the Pads," Hannah Smith said.

Tweet from @Padres: Not a true Padre unless you have a special handshake with @La_Mole_13 👊💪 pic.twitter.com/a8BS4K2aQv

Levi received a game-used bat from Hunter Renfroe (his favorite player) then proceeded from the clubhouse to the dugout where Green held his media session. He predicted an Austin Hedges home run, then made the announcement that left-hander Joey Lucchesi will start Sunday's game in Los Angeles.

Tweet from @Padres: Levi knows that practice makes perfect��� including team celebrations 💙 #BiggerThanBaseball pic.twitter.com/FH75djIavX

The most touching moment of the day came after Levi spent half an hour running the bases, taking swings off a tee and fielding ground balls. When he stepped on home plate one final time, right-hander Craig Stammen lifted Levi onto his shoulders. He was mobbed by the entire team. The other relievers, playing catch up the right-field line, temporarily ditched their throwing session to join in.

"Any time you have a family that's going through that and you have a kid with a dream and you can make it possible, it's humbling," said closer Kirby Yates. "This is where he wants to come. This is where he wants to be, because that's what his dream is. It puts it in the right perspective and puts baseball on the backburner."

Tweet from @Padres: Wishes do come true.Levi, meet @TheRealHos305! 😄 pic.twitter.com/q0tckkVRXj

Smith delivered the game ball to the mound and lined up with the team for the national anthem before watching the game with his family from a luxury box.

"It's so uplifting for him to watch the Padres, and not only the Padres, but baseball in general," said Matt Smith, Levi's father. "This experience is unbelievable. For him, it's his life right now." 

Tweet from @Padres: Warm up time for Levi!@TheRealHos305 & @Hunter_Renfroe showing him the way. pic.twitter.com/BiAEOcCvXB

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres

Padres trio elevated stock in 2018

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

Last week, we took a look at 20 hitting prospects who boosted their stock in 2018. Now it's time to turn attention to the mound.

Most of the 20 pitchers listed below are on our Top 100 Prospects list, though some are on their respective organization's Top 30 only. All of them used very strong 2018 seasons to make large jumps up rankings and more firmly onto the prospect radar.

Last week, we took a look at 20 hitting prospects who boosted their stock in 2018. Now it's time to turn attention to the mound.

Most of the 20 pitchers listed below are on our Top 100 Prospects list, though some are on their respective organization's Top 30 only. All of them used very strong 2018 seasons to make large jumps up rankings and more firmly onto the prospect radar.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Chris Paddack, RHP, Padres' No. 5/MLB No. 48
Paddack missed all of 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery, so it was tough to know what to expect. A 12.0 K/9 and ridiculous 0.8 BB/9 rate (120 K's, 8 walks) went far beyond any projections and allowed him to skyrocket to the middle of the Top 100 and from No. 23 to No. 5 on the Padres' Top 30.

Jesus Luzardo, LHP, A's No. 1/MLB No. 12
To say Tommy John surgery is in Luzardo's rearview mirror is an understatement. He's now the second-best lefty prospect in the game and jumped up from No. 60 on the preseason Top 100 thanks to a season that saw him pitch across three levels and start the Futures Game.

Dane Dunning, RHP, White Sox No. 6/MLB No. 62
An elbow sprain that shut Dunning down in late June puts a damper on his season, but the good news is he didn't need surgery. Before the injury, he pitched his way to Double-A and continued to miss bats (10.4 K/9) and not walk guys (2.7 BB/9) to move up 30 spots in the Top 100.

Video: Top Prospects: Dane Dunning, RHP, White Sox

Jonathan Loaisiga, RHP, Yankees' No. 3/MLB No. 73
The right-hander moved from No. 14 on the Yankees' Top 30 up to No. 3 and jumped firmly onto the Top 100 in a year that saw him start in the Class A Advanced Florida State League and finish in New York, posting a 67/8 K/BB ratio along the way in the Minors.

Touki Toussaint, RHP, Braves' No. 7/MLB No. 74
The questions about Toussaint's ability to start long-term have disappeared after a huge 2018 season that saw him finish tied for eighth in strikeouts in the Minors while considerably cutting his walk rate and making a strong contribution to the playoff-bound big league club.

Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Twins' No. 4/MLB No. 77
Graterol's Tommy John surgery in 2016 is well behind him, and he backed up his stirring 2017 U.S. debut with a year that saw him pitch across two levels of Class A ball before he turned 20. Along the way, he struck out 9.4/9 and walked just 2.5/9 to go from unranked up to No. 77 on the Top 100.

Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers' No. 4/MLB No. 78
May continued his ascent up the Dodgers' ladder, and prospect lists in his second full season of pro ball, going from No. 11 to 4 on the team's Top 30 and jumping to No. 78 from being unranked, while pitching across two levels and reaching Double-A at age 20.

Justus Sheffield, LHP, Yankees' No. 1/MLB No. 27
The Yankees' top prospect began the year No. 48 on the Top 100 and has shot up 21 spots thanks to pitching extremely well across two upper levels (2.48 ERA, .195 BAA, 9.5 K/9) and pitching in the Futures Game. Sheffield capped things off by receiving his first callup in September.

Video: BOS@NYY: Sheffield seals Yankees' win in MLB debut

Griffin Canning, RHP, Angels' No. 3/MLB No. 81
Canning wasn't on the Top 100 to start the season and was at No. 8 on the Angels' list, but now he's at No. 81 and No. 3 in a vastly improved system after he pitched his way to Triple-A in his first full season of pro ball.

Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox No. 5/MLB No. 44
Cease moved up 17 spots from his preseason ranking on the Top 100, and it's quite possible he's still under-ranked, especially after he was as dominant as any pitcher in the Minors late in the season (0.51 ERA, .107 BAA, 14.8 K/9 in August).

Video: Cease named Pipeline Pitcher of the Year

Adonis Medina, RHP, Phillies' No. 3/MLB No. 69
The right-hander also made a 17-spot jump in the Top 100, shaking off a rough July with a very strong August (2.57 ERA) to help him finish with nifty 9.9 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 ratios for the season in the Florida State League.

Peter Lambert, RHP, Rockies' No. 2/MLB No. 84
After thriving in hitting environments over his first few seasons, Lambert dominated the Double-A Eastern League to earn a promotion to Triple-A at age 21 and jump firmly onto the Top 100. While he scuffled there, he finished with 11 scoreless innings over his final two starts.

Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves' No. 1/MLB No. 15
Before a shoulder strain effectively ended his season in June, Soroka had taken his stuff and pitchabiltiy and was on his way to cementing himself as a 21-year-old big-league starter. His lack of walks and high ground-ball rate made him very efficient and earned him a jump into the top 20 overall.

Logan Allen, LHP, Padres' No. 8/MLB No. 85
Allen might be the third-best lefty prospect in the Padres' system, but he definitely put himself more on the national prospect radar (unranked to No. 85 overall) thanks to a year that saw him post incredible numbers (2.54 ERA, .205 BAA, 9.1 K/9) in Double- and Triple-A at age 21.

Josh James, RHP, Astros' No. 6
James wasn't ranked on Houston's Top 30 at the start of the season, but now he's in the top 10 and impacting the big league staff thanks to a breakout campaign that saw him pitch across Double- and Triple-A while finishing with a .191 BAA and ending tied for fourth in the Minors with 171 K's.

Video: SEA@HOU: James strikes out 7 in 1st career win

Luis Oviedo, RHP, Indians' No. 10
Oviedo started the year in the short-season New York-Penn League as an unranked prospect, but he pitched his way to full-season ball for the first time before being shut down as a precaution. Along the way, the 19-year old struck out 10.6/9 and posted a 2.05 ERA to go along with a .190 BAA.

Garrett Whitlock, RHP, Yankees' No. 11
As an 18th-rounder from the 2017 Draft, it's not surprising Whitlock was unranked at the start of the season, but when he finished third in the Minors with his 1.86 ERA and had a combined .214 BAA and 9.1 K/9 while touching Double-A, it's no wonder he's now No. 11 on New York's list.

Luis Patino, RHP, Padres' No. 12
Unranked to start the year, this 18-year-old went to full-season ball in May and dominated there (2.16 ERA, .220 BAA, 10.6 K/9) to put a big up arrow next to his name, showing even more dominance in the second half (1.74 ERA, .202 BAA, 11.1 K/9 in 11 starts).

Emilio Vargas, RHP, D-backs' No. 14
A move to the California League can be a kiss of death for pitching prospects, but for Vargas, it helped put him on the map as he finished second in the system in both ERA (2.88) and strikeouts (170) while pitching his way to Double-A and going from unranked to the top 15.

Dean Kremer, RHP, Orioles' No. 16
Unranked this preseason with the Dodgers, Kremer was having a breakout year in the California League and had earned a promotion to Double-A when he was sent to the O's in the Manny Machado deal, then dominated post-trade and finished the year leading the Minors in strikeouts (178).

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.