Joey Cantillo, LHP, SD

We have gotten used to the fact that the Padres have a very, very deep minor league system. So while all the attention goes to Gore, Patino and Weathers, deeper in this system lies another interesting arm.

Video courtesy of Fort Wayne TinCaps
  • Born: December 18, 1999
  • B/T: Left
  • 6’4″, 220-lbs
  • Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 16th round of the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft from Kailua High School, Kailua, HI

The Numbers

His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

Looking at the above we see an improving arm making progress as he climbs levels. We cannot read a lot into those red boxes in 2017 — for one thing it’s only for 8 innings, and for another it was his first professional experience out of high school. Note how quickly he adjusted in 2017.

His WHIP has become excellent quickly. The K% has always been great, I mean really, really great. The BB% is not as good, though not awful, and those strikeouts overwhelm the walks to give him a good K%-BB% and WHIP rates.

These are the numbers of a young pitcher learning to control his pitches.

No splits there of note. He mows ’em all down!

This is a typical look for a young pitcher. He starts a the Rookie league level, goes a bit up and down, but starts to improve by the end of the season. In 2019 he jumps to A-ball, and it’s an adjustment at first, and then it’s off to the races. So to High-A he goes, and it’s adjustment time again. We will probably see the same result when he reaches AA, presumably some time in 2020.

Looking at his spray chart, I see very little in the way of batter pull tendencies. It’s a very balanced chart.

Looking in the BaseballHQ.com Minor League Baseball Analyst book, we see that Cantillo has three pitches in his arsenal:

Now the first thing you can see is that his changeup is a plus pitch, his best one. His curve is also solid, but what about that fastball? Low-90s? Double-A will eat him alive!

Maybe not. Remember, he’s only just 20 years old and those numbers are him as a 19-year-old. He’s not long out of high school. He’s still growing, he will put on weight, and that fastball will improve. Indeed, he hit 94 mph last summer at one point, so the speed improvements are coming as he grows. Remember, he’s a lefty, so he doesn’t need more than low-to-mid 90s to make his fastball good enough to work in his curve and plus change.

This is not the arsenal of an ace by any means, but a SP4 in the majors? You bet!

The Scouts

Warnings

As you see, he doesn’t excite too many scouts yet. Some success at AA in 2020 will cure that. He’s a high school arm who is learning his craft.

His 2020 numbers might be uglier since it’s the hitter friendly California League.

Another risk is that the fastball does not develop enough speed and he never makes it to the majors, or maybe only as a swingman.

Let’s see that control improve so that the walks go down.

Conclusion

I like Cantillo. He won’t be an ace, and you shouldn’t think of him that way despite that strikeout rate. If you like a nice back-of-the-rotation arm to speculate on in your dynasty league, you should be able to get him easily this year when he has a few struggle games in the California League. But I think this kid will make it. There is value in a SP4 in the majors, and on our fantasy teams.

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