FORT WAYNE — Adys Portillo has been one of the top pitchers in the Midwest League all season. He has the best ERA in the league.
This is Portillo’s second year as a starter for Fort Wayne. He also made one appearance with the team in 2010. How much longer will he remain with the TinCaps?
“When guys put up the numbers like he has, there has been a lot of internal debate about what’s the right thing to do,” Randy Smith, the director of player development for the San Diego Padres, said Monday. “Do we let him enjoy success and have a dominating season (in low-A)? Do we challenge him more (at advanced-A)? We’re kind of just playing things out here and watching him start to start.”
Smith is in town getting a closer look at players for Fort Wayne’s first two series of the second half. He got the chance to watch Portillo pitch six shutout innings Saturday against Lake County. Portillo is 5-4 with a 1.76 ERA and has 66 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings.
“I’m not going to say he’s going to be here all year and at the same time, I’m not going to say he’s leaving either,” Smith said. “As far as we’re concerned, the goal for him for next year should be to get to Double-A San Antonio. He can certainly do that by staying here all year. He can do that by moving.”
Portillo is one of three TinCaps in the top 10 in the league in ERA. Matt Wisler is eighth (2.74) and Frank Garces is ninth (2.80).
“He’s been unbelievable,” Smith said of Wisler, who is from Bryan, Ohio. “To come out here and do what he’s done, phenomenal. He has to be one of the best pitching prospects in the league.”
Offensively, all-stars Jace Peterson (.286 average, 28 stolen bases) and Austin Hedges have impressed Smith.
“(Peterson is) a leader, he sets the tone for the club. With his style of play, I like the way he goes about his business. He’s going to be a good big leaguer,” Smith said.
“Hedges (.268 average, 5 home runs, 30 RBI) has had a really good half offensively to come in this league as a 19-year-old kid. What he’s done is impressive.”
Smith is looking for more consistency from the offense.
“Other guys in spurts have performed very well,” Smith said. “(Lee) Orr picked the team up on his back for a while. (Yeison) Asencio has done the same thing. What we just need to do is have these guys all be consistent and not try to do too much.
“(Travis) Whitmore has been pretty steady and consistent. That to me is the key, these guys offensively look at themselves as a unit instead of trying to do things as individuals.”
Smith said he expects “big things” out of the TinCaps in the second half.
“It was a young team. They have a half-year experience now,” Smith said. “The pitching staff is so good, hopefully our hitters are adjusting to the league and we should figure out a way to win ballgames in the second half.”