The Padres have designated infielder Dusty Coleman and right-handed reliever Jose Valdez for assignment, according to an official announcement from the organization. The contracts of catcher Rocky Gale and infielder Christian Villanueva have been selected in a related move. The Padres have also recalled RHP Tim Melville, along with outfielders Travis Jankowski, Hunter Renfroe.
Valdez has thrown a combined 50 1/3 innings for the Tigers, Angels and Padres over the past three seasons, pitching to a 5.72 ERA. While that number may seem high, his 6.66 career FIP shows that he’s actually pitched even worse than that number indicates. He throws hard, averaging 96 MPH on his fastball and 86 MPH on his slider, but he gets hit hard as well; opponents have managed hard-hit balls against him in over 40% of their at-bats. That, combined with his 36% career ground ball rate and the fact that opposing hitters are able to pull the ball against him 41% of the time, has likely been the cause of a 4.00 HR/9 that’s done Valdez in. The 27 year-old right hander was originally signed as an international free agent by the Tigers in 2009.
Coleman, 30, was selected by the Athletics in the 28th round of the 2008 draft (844 overall). Though he garnered five official plate appearances with the Royals back in 2015, this season was his first extended stay in the majors. In 71 trips to the plate with the Padres, Coleman showed some power (4 HR, .227 ISO), but a crippling 46.5% strikeout rate held him back, leading him to a paltry .227 average and .268 OBP.
Gale is a light-hitting catcher who has only seen 17 innings behind the plate at the major-league level. He has spent his entire career in the Padres organization after being selected in the 24th round of the 2010 draft (724 overall). The 29 year-old hit .278/.325/.365 at Triple-A El Paso this season.
Villanueva was part of the 2012 trade between the Cubs and Rangers; he was sent from Texas along with Kyle Hendricks in exchange for Ryan Dempster. He missed the entire 2016 season after suffering a right fibular fracture during spring training, and was subsequently non-tendered that offseason. Since signing a minor-league deal with the Padres in the offseason, he has impressed with a .269/.369/.528 batting line at Triple-A. The 26 year-old third baseman will be getting his first taste of major-league action; he has spent eight years in the minor leagues after being signed as an international free agent by the Rangers in 2009.
Renfroe, a former top prospect, made his major-league debut last season. He burst onto the scene by clubbing four homers and two doubles in just 11 games, but struggled mightily with plate discipline this season (125 K’s against just 26 walks) before being demoted to Triple-A. After hitting over .500 over 61 PA in El Paso with almost as many walks as strikeouts, the Padres will hope he can sustain those skills with the MLB club.
Jankowski played 131 games with the Padres last season, but suffered a foot injury in April that has caused him to miss most of 2017. He’s known far more for his speed and defense in center field than he is for his bat. Both UZR and DRS have rated him well above average for in 148 career games in the majors, but he’s slugged just .305 across that time. Jankowski has been out since April with a foot injury.
Melville was claimed off waivers from the Twins back on August 26th. He’s spent time in the minors with five different organizations and has made three major league starts in his career, none of which lasted more than four innings. He does, however carry some pedigree. Though he fell to the fourth round in the 2008 draft, the Royals spent $1.25MM to sign him; well above slot. Melville has a big frame, standing at 6’5″ and weighing 210 pounds, so perhaps he can still reach the potential that Baseball Prospectus saw in him when he ranked #93 on their top prospects list back in 2012.