What if I told you that the Padres would have an exciting outfield in 2018, but it didn’t include Wil Myers?
Myers is up to his old tricks of not being able to stay healthy, as he is on his second stint on the disabled list and may be on the shelf for a while.
Manuel Margot has been struggling mightily at the plate with a .202 average and a measly 52 wRC+ this season and has not been the main contributor at center like the Padres’ front office had hoped so far. This is about what the Padres have, not what they do not have.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound right fielder is a powerful bat that seems to be tapping into his potential this season. Heading into Monday, he led all of professional baseball, major or minor league, with 14 home runs. The best part is that he is not a one-trick pony that some think Hunter Renfroe may be. Reyes is hitting .346 with an above-average 13.6 percent walk rate and an average 20.1 percent strikeout out. The 22-year-old just puts the ball in play, and those balls are usually hit very hard.
Major League Baseball is going to quickly figure out what this kid is all about. He brings some juice to this improving and athletic outfield.
Franmil Reyes has been recalled from El Paso. No word on corresponding move yet from the #Padres
Reyes, 22 put up a .346/.440/.748 batting line with 14 home runs in 35 games at @epchihuahuas
— East Village Times (@EVT_News) May 13, 2018
Welcome to The Show, Franmil Reyes! pic.twitter.com/wKraKuhlPP
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) May 14, 2018
Cordero may be the most exciting Padres player to this point this year, and even one of the more exciting young players in all of baseball. He has shown marked improvement in just about every aspect of his game since his brief 30-game stint with the team last season. His strikeout rate is down 11 percent, his walk rate up four percent, his average up over 40 points, and his wRC+ has gone from 83 to 133. He is also a Statcast master, as most of his batted balls have excellent exit velocity and he also has elite speed in the field and on the bases.
He is also hitting .342 in the 11 games he has batted fourth in the lineup. Even with all the tools you could want in an outfielder, Cordero is far from a perfect player, but if he can maintain these improvements over the course of a long year, the Padres have a keeper, and he can be a key piece in the outfield for years to come.
After being up and down for much of 2015-2017, Jankowski has looked like a different player in his small sample size of 13 games this season. He is hitting .349 with a .429 on-base percentage and a 164 wRC+. He has been a revelation at the leadoff spot, where the Padres have struggled to find a producer all season. With Reyes now coming into the mix, Jankowski and Reyes may be in a platoon role to give each player some at-bats with the likes of Myers and Hunter Renfroe absent from right field.
The question will be, is any of this success sustainable? Probably not that slash line, but it looks like Jankowski truly has improved as he also boasts a 12.2 percent walk rate and under 15 percent strikeout rate.
As mentioned, Margot has struggled in 2018. That does not mean he has become anything less than the center fielder of the present and future. Manager Andy Green seems to still be confident in the Dominican outfielder.
Manuel Margot won't be the move for Franmil Reyes. Andy Green says in lineup tonight, is always full effort "We believe in Manny."
— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) May 14, 2018
Margot hit .263 with 13 home runs last season, and anything close to that with his defense would certainly be acceptable. His walk rate has dipped from last season (6.6% in 2017, 4.1% this season) and he has a little less thump in his bat, with a six percent drop in line-drive rate. Although, it looks as if some time on the disabled list with that bruised rib, as well as being dropped in the lineup, have done him some good. Since May 4, Margot is hitting .250.
Szczur seems to have the resiliency of a cockroach, or a Twinkie, as some predicted he would be the roster casualty for Reyes and a few moves before that. Not so. Szczur has a respectable .319 on-base percentage, especially given his .238 average. He has a 10.6 percent walk rate along with a 92 wRC+. Although not impressive or even average, over the course of the season it has been better than the likes of Margot or Jose Pirela until just recently.
Szczur is out of options and would have to go through waivers if the Padres decided to move on from him, which may have played a role in keeping him on the roster.
This is not even considering the fact that both Jose Pirela and Cory Spangenberg have spent time in the outfield this season. With the Reyes call-up, the Padres now have seven players on the active roster who can play outfield. Plus Hunter Renfroe is on the mend and hopes to continue to improve from his up-and-down 2017 rookie year.
What does this mean going forward?
Look for Reyes and Jankowski to platoon right field for the time being. Jankowski did not start when the Padres faced Nationals lefty, Gio Gonzalez. It is likely Reyes will fill that role that was previously Szczur’s, who now looks to be a fifth outfielder and bench bat.
Center field is still Margot’s to lose and it looks like it will be for the foreseeable future.
Left field is becoming Franchy Cordero’s lair as he has started there in 12 of the past 13 games. There is no timetable for the return of Myers as of yet. The writing on the wall seems like it will be into June before we see him again. Renfroe’s return would cause another move and we will see if Szczur’s luck has run out.
The Padres would not have called up Reyes unless they plan on playing him frequently, and he basically forced the move with his ridiculous numbers in El Paso. With Cordero improving and now Reyes making waves, let the era of “Fran” begin in San Diego.