This is actually a Best Shape of His Life story, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use that phrase as a headline.
It comes from a story by Osman Rosales Cruz at El Nuevo Diario in Nicaragua, where Vicente Padilla is plying his trade this winter. And it’s a thorough tongue-bathing. Thanks a million to Nick Collias who translated and brought it to my attention:
“There was Vicente Padilla, erect, proud, shining, and solid. Oh, how exquisite! Without a doubt, all of us who had the opportunity to see the hurler from Chinandega on the hill at Estadio Roque Tadeo Zevala in Granada enjoyed this superb outing, in which his fastball reached up to 95 mph.
And although he left without earning a decision in los Tigres’ 2-1 victory over los Orientales, due to a home run to Roland Garth with Adolfo Matamoros on base in the ninth inning, those seven innings from Padilla were captivating—a true wonder.
Evidence of his ferocity remained imprinted in the hand of catcher Luani Sánchez, who skillfully handled the repertoire of the Nicaraguan who, according to sources, could be wearing a Miami Marlins uniform in next year’s big league season.
Is it true that you’re ending up with the Marlins?
“Maybe,” said the Nicaraguan with a smile. “I feel very good, you saw how I pitched, and you can get an idea of the shape I’m in,” offered Padilla, who continues showing signs of a great change in the way he deals with the press. He was a total gentleman.
I know he’s pretty famous in his native country, but man, talk about a fanboy writeup. And while I can think of many things I’d call Padilla, I’m not sure “total gentleman” is one of them. But hey. it’s not my game story.
During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.
The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.
The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.
The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.
It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:
We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.
While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.
Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.