orres came over to San Diego as the lesser-known piece of the Drew Pomeranz/Yonder Alonzo trade with Oakland December 2nd of last year. Padres farm director Sam Ganey knows Torres well from the time the two shared in Oakland, and no doubt played a role in Torres’ development from a 16-year-old signee to the pitching prospect we see now. Torres was recently promoted to Double-A on June 6, but I was able to get a look at him in his second to last outing for Lake Elsinore on June 3 at Rancho Cucamonga. He is a long, lanky kid with some wiry strength. His athleticism shows in the clean, quick arm action and free and easy delivery. He has some cross-body action in the delivery as well, and even with the ¾ arm slot, he gets some angle to home plate. His fastball borders on elite, sitting at 95-to-97 mph with late tail to both sides of the plate, and explosive ride up in the zone. He will cut himself off out front at times, limiting his extension and causing the fastball to leak to the armside, but he showed ability to adjust, and he was able to locate to the glove side with relative ease when right. His slider is a below-average pitch right now; loose, with big shape, and sitting at 79-to-83 mph. He did show a version with more ¾ depth and bite, so given the arm strength I can see it getting to average as he gets more consistent with his release point. He is said to have a developing changeup as well, but I did not see it in this outing.
Torres impressed last year seeing both his SO/9 shoot up (6.2 to 9.8) and his BB/9 drop (3.6 to 2.8) from 2014. He also saw his H/9 drop from 7.3 to 6.4 in that same span. There has been some regression in those areas so far in 2016 (8.9 SO/9 and 3.6 BB/9 and 7.5 H/9), likely due to his inconsistent fastball command, and this also being his first extended look at High A hitters. This will continue to be an issue for him as he climbs the ladder; his margin for error will shrink as he deals with advanced high-minors hitters.
Padres executives obviously have liked what they’ve seen so far and, considering the recent promotion to Double-A on June 6th, feel like he is close to turning a corner. With the arm strength he possesses and the deception in the delivery, even getting to fringe-average fastball command will go a long way towards advancing the effectiveness of his secondary stuff. There is a lot to like here, and the Padres are the early winners of that December 2015 trade with Oakland. Things may look grim at the big league level for them right now, but general manager A.J. Preller and company are stocking their farm system with high-upside pieces that will impact the big league club in the not-too-distant future.