Iriarte turning heads at High-A Fort Wayne

21-year-old righty among those thriving in Padres' farm system

May 28th, 2023

As the Padres have dealt from the depth in their farm over the past two years, it has left space for fast-risers in their system. Heck, it practically created a need for them. If San Diego was going to replenish its farm system, it would need a few breakout performers.

appears to be one of those breakout performers.

The 21-year-old right-hander from Venezuela is off to a nice start with High-A Fort Wayne. He's posted a 3.30 ERA through eight starts, with 41 strikeouts in 30 innings.

Iriarte, says one evaluator, boasts "a loose, live arm" that should continue to play as he progresses through the system. He boasts a mid-90s fastball, paired with two legitimate offspeed weapons -- a slider and a changeup, both of which project as out pitches.

It remains unclear what's next for Iriarte. He has starter stuff and he has honed his command in 2023 -- one of the biggest reasons for his breakout. But he's still walking hitters at an 11.7% clip. That number will need to drop, otherwise he could be destined for a bullpen role. (A role in which he'd likely thrive.)

Either way, both the Padres and rival evaluators see a big league arm in Iriarte. He starts Tuesday against South Bend. It's worth monitoring his progress.

As for the rest of San Diego's system...

Triple-A El Paso: José Iglesias' recent decision to opt out of his Minor League deal hit the Padres’ infield depth a bit. But considering the options on the big league club, that's not too great of a concern. In the meantime, should the need arise for a left-handed bench bat, is on a tear. He notched a five-hit game on Saturday, boosting his average to .351 with an absurd .948 slugging percentage in May.

Double-A San Antonio: Infielder Ripken Reyes, a University of San Diego product, is off to a solid start, reaching at a .412 clip through 131 plate appearances. On the pitching side, remains a standout. The team's No. 16 prospect, Wolf -- an imposing 6-foot-7 left-hander -- has struck out 53 hitters with just 12 walks over 39 innings this season.

High-A Fort Wayne: The strength of the Padres' system remains the lower levels, and the organization has gotten several standout performances at Fort Wayne. First baseman and catcher have been red-hot at the plate practically all season. (Valenzuela, already solid defensively, is off to a particularly encouraging start.) Pitching-wise, right-hander , the team's No. 6 prospect, has notched a 1.80 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP across six outings with Fort Wayne, part of a formidable rotation that also includes Iriarte, and .

Single-A Lake Elsinore: It's been an encouraging start for No. 4 prospect , an 18-year-old left-handed-hitting outfielder who is reaching base at a .400 clip this season. Meanwhile, the Lake Elsinore rotation continues to roll right along with four starters -- , , and Henry Baez -- who have sub-3.50 ERAs this season. Snelling, the team's No. 5 prospect, leads the way with a 1.14 mark in seven starts.