Tirso Ornelas Earns ABs In Mexican Pacific League

The Padres have challenged Mexican outfielder Tirso Ornelas at every step since signing him for $1.5 million in 2016.

Ornelas was among the youngest players in the low Class A Midwest League in 2018, when he got on base at a .341 clip as an 18-year-old. He returned from a mechanical reset in extended spring training in 2019 to tackle the high Class A California League in 2019.

Ornelas now is 20 years old and starting in left field for Obregon of the Mexican Pacific League as the Padres decide just what to do with him ahead of the Rule 5 draft.  

“We were excited with what we saw in spring training,” said Chris Kemp, who doubles as the Padres international scouting director and minor league field coordinator. “. . . The way the body looks, it would be a cool story if he gets hot.” 

The Padres opted to send Ornelas to the MPL instead of participating in instructional league when they were advised he’d receive ample playing time in a circuit that traditionally features older players. In that regard, Ornelas’ lefthanded bat fits in a veteran lineup.

He was 6-foot-3, 200 pounds when he signed as a 16-year-old out of the same Mexican youth academy that produced Luis Urias and Andres Muñoz. He has ballooned to 6-foot-5, 220 pounds after spending a great deal of his pandemic time in the gym, and he projects as a corner outfielder with the ability to hit for both average and power. 

The Padres were using the winter league time to evaluate Ornelas, who will be Rule 5 eligible this winter if not added to the 40-man roster. So too will many other prospects from the Padres’ 2016 international and high school signing classes.

“We did the best job we could in terms of minor league development,” Padres general manager A.J. Preller, “in terms of the guys who were at the alternate site and keeping tabs on the games that were back home and right now at the instructional league.

“But not having a season, it definitely plays a factor in a lot of questions that we’ve got in terms of making the roster.” 


— Outfielder Hudson Head, the 2019 third-round pick, was rehabbing a hamstring injury when instructional league began but was expected to pick up at-bats before its conclusion. Head worked out all summer in the big league player pool at the Padres’ alternate site at the University of San Diego. 

— The Padres’ instructional league also includes the entirety of the 2020 draft class: outfielders Robert Hassell and Owen Caissie, righthanders Justin Lange, Cole Wilcox and Levi Thomas; and lefthanders Jagger Haynes.

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