Hard Work Pays Off For Luis Torrens
Catcher Luis Torrens took his lumps as a 21-year-old rookie in 2017, but he could explain away his struggles. The Padres had selected him in the Rule 5 draft following an injury-plagued season at low Class A.
After spending a season in San Diego, Torrens spent all of 2018 at high Class A Lake Elsinore. That fall the Venezuelan reported to Peoria, Ariz., for instructional league, when others on the 40-man roster received September callups.
Torrens didn’t pout. He went to work.
In 2019, Torrens ranked as one of the best defensive catchers in the high minors at Double-A Amarillo. He led all backstops 25-and-under with an estimated 11 defensive runs saved, according to Baseball Info Solutions.
On top of that, the 23-year-old set career highs in homers (15), batting average (.300), on-base percentage (.373), slugging (.500) and OPS (.873) in keeping his name on the radar.
"I think when we took him, we looked at a guy who had some good numbers and had some raw capabilities,” Padres instruction coordinator Ryley Westman said. "I think what we’ve come to find out is this is a really intelligent young man who has a good understanding of what it’s going to take for him to get better.”
Torrens’ biggest improvement, Westman said, has been his receiving. Also, he threw out 46 percent of basestealers in 2019. That helped earn him a September callup.
"I’m as excited as I was my first day (in 2017),” Torrens said. "I feel good because I worked on my defense, my receiving, my blocking and my throwing. It’s something I can feel proud about.”
Torrens was 3-for-14 with two walks and six strikeouts in seven games (three starts) down the stretch for a Padres team rich in catching talent.
For all of his struggles at the plate, Austin Hedges was a Gold Glove finalist, Francisco Mejia’s bat has shown well in spurts in the majors, and 21-year-old Luis Campusano was the co-MVP of the California League while establishing himself as one of the game’s better catching prospects.
The Padres believe Torrens remains part of the equation.
"We’re very excited about him," Westman said.
— Righthander Reggie Lawson struck out 14, walked 10 and allowed one run in 11 innings (0.82 ERA) in the Arizona Fall League. Lawson, 22, had been limited to 27.2 innings in 2019 at Double-A Amarillo (5.20 ERA) because to elbow trouble.
— Middle infielder Ivan Castillo, who won a batting title with a .313 batting average in the Double-A Texas League, has re-signed with the Padres and is seeing time at shortstop in the winter Dominican League.