Written by: John Stewart (@jonance)
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Ahhh…. Smokey. Not only one of the sweetest voices every to lay down a track, but one of the most gifted songwriters in the history of music. He was light-years ahead of his time when it came to crafting songs that had lyrical substance but still reeled you in with an irresistible hook:
“So take a good look at my face
You know my smile looks out of place
If you look closer it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears”
He paints a perfect visual picture of a guy whose girlfriend left him, and while he’s smiling and has stopped crying, if you look a bit closer you’ll see the tracks of his tears. Later in the song he delivers this nugget:
“My smile is my makeup
I wear since my break-up with you”
One of my favorite Smokey lines comes at the end of a perfect bridge, and is delivered in the same staccato fashion as the backing music to drive home the point any happiness you see on his face isn’t real, only makeup covering up the sadness inside. Dang Smokey!
But the subject of this piece doesn’t bring sadness, only joy. The smile he puts on my face is indeed real, and he represents yet another promising, young prospect in the San Diego system that is seemingly stockpiled with them. Let’s take a listen to “The Tracks of my Tirso”.
Tirso Ornelas was scooped up by the Padres in the 2016 J2 International signing class for a $1.5 million signing bonus, and the early returns point to him as the best pure hitter to emerge from the class. While he is limited to an corner outfield position defensively, his bat looks like it will project just fine in either right field or left field as he has performed admirably at every level while being one of the youngest players at each stop.
In his Arizona League debut back in 2017, Ornelas had a 16.8% walk rate (4th in the league) and a .399 OBP as the youngest hitter in the league. He didn’t hit for much power, but as a 17-year-old standing at 6’4” and 180 lbs., it was completely understood that it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped.
Less than two seasons later, the ascension has already begun but is very much still in progress.
The outfielder played the entirety of 2018 at Low-A Fort Wayne, another aggressive assignment that again made him the second-youngest player in the Midwest League. He finished in the top-15 in BB/K, showing an all-fields approach (36.8 Oppo%) with elite contact skills considering his age at that level. Ornelas only managed 8 home runs in 355 plate appearances as he is still learning how to get to his raw power in games, but he’s reportedly added 20 pounds to his frame as he continues to fill out; he should get to at least 25 home run game power once he maxes out as a result of his advanced approach and hit tool. He slashed .252/.341/.392 with a .297 BABIP (109 wRC+) in 86 games last season.
2019 has brought yet another aggressive assignment at High-A Lake Elsinore, making Ornelas the youngest hitter in the league once again. Thus far it hasn’t fazed him in the slightest, as he has a .280/.378/.413 slash over 90 plate appearances. Here’s some batting practice hacks captured by Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser a few weeks ago.
Here are some BP swings of Padres No. 20 prospect Tirso Ornelas pic.twitter.com/LOfn4A4ZUq
— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) April 5, 2019
Ornelas gets lost a bit in an incredibly deep Padres farm system, but he has significant upside with a ceiling of 25+ homers and an average in the .270 range (not to mention a double-digit walk rate). He is most likely available in shallower dynasty leagues, and if you have roster flexibility, this is the time to get in on the ground floor. His numbers have been held down a bit by some bad BABIP luck and a wrist injury at the end of last season, but if he stays healthy and continues to impress, we’ll be singing about the Tracks of Your Tirso if you miss out on this impressive young player.
Our @MRodProspects has been conducting the Ornelas hype-train for awhile, profiling him nearly a year ago and including him in his 2019 ‘All-Hype’ team.
Follow P365 staff writer John Stewart on Twitter! @jonance
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365