There will be many San Diego Padres’ players worth noting this spring, but here are five names that you will definitely want to keep an eye on as the Friars look to compete in 2019 and beyond.
The start of spring training 2019 is roughly over four months away. For the fans of the baseball team from San Diego, there is much hope about the coming season and their youthful Padres. For the first time in nearly five decades, the team has a roster full of young players with upside.
With the front office spending money, and young players everywhere, there is a sense that this franchise could soon be relevant.
There are many question marks in regard to the Padres’ roster currently. They have holes in certain areas, while at the same time they possess worthy commodities in other areas. Some speculate that a trade is coming for the franchise, but they are at a point where the front office will only make deals that benefit “the process”.
There are several players who look to have a big spring as the team attempts to compete in a tough NL Western Division.
Here is a look at five players to keep an eye on during spring 2019, which will be here before you know it:
With a full offseason of working out and getting stronger, expect Strahm to come into camp in great shape. He could add some muscle to his wiry frame, and with that become an even more complete pitcher for the team. He told me in an interview earlier this year that he never really had full strength in his legs and dealt with muscle atrophy this past winter. Strahm also indicated that he was excited to get to compete for a rotation spot.
Expect the lefty to get plenty of opportunities to start ballgames this March. He really does have the mechanics and repertoire to be an effective starter at the major league level. If Strahm were to make the rotation, the Padres would have three potential lefties there (Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer). This spring, Matt Strahm is a player of note as he could be a key member of the rotation or bullpen.
If Tatis did not hurt his thumb this past minor league season, the Padres may have recalled him at some point in 2018. He was really starting to produce in San Antonio before going down on a headfirst slide. September would have been really fun if Tatis and Urias were both in the daily lineup for the Friars.
Heading into the spring, Tatis has an excellent chance to force the Padres’ hand. He clearly did everything he needed to do in Double-A, so a Triple-A start seems likely for the right-handed hitter (if he begins in the minors). Playing in El Paso only means he is a phone call away from making his debut. There is no doubt in my mind that Tatis will make his major league debut at some point in 2019. A torrid spring could make Fernando Tatis a household name throughout the country.
The Mexican, right-handed-hitting Urias will be the team’s starting second baseman when Opening Day comes in late March of 2019. He is only 21 and has shown flashes of being a really good player. He struggled a bit in his major league debut season (.208), but 48 at-bats are hardly enough to get a real idea of value. In the spring, look for Urias to get comfortable with the team and developing his craft.
We still do not know who his double-play partner will be as Freddy Galvis is an impending free agent. Urias himself might get some time at shortstop in 2019, as the team looks for someone to keep the position warm for Fernando Tatis Jr. There are plenty of options here, but one thing you can be sure of- Luis Urias will play every day and most likely hit at the top of the order. Keep an eye on him this spring as his comfort level increases.
This fleet-footed outfielder is fun to watch play the game of baseball. He started with the franchise as a shortstop but now plays a solid outfield. He has the speed and arm to play all three positions, but is still a work in progress when it comes to reading and tracking the ball off the bat. Cordero seems to be the odd man out presently with Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe both establishing themselves this past season.
February and March will be interesting as the Padres decide who gets the majority of the playing time. Cordero is reportedly going to play in the Dominican Winter League, which starts this month. His elbow injury shouldn’t be a problem, but it will be something to watch as the 2019 season approaches.
The Padres traded for this backstop because they like his bat. They were pleasantly surprised with what they saw from him defensively at the major league level. He needs work in receiving and pitch calling, but at 22, you have to be excited for the future of this rocket-armed Dominican catcher.
His switch-hitting bat is very intriguing. He has an aggressive approach at the plate and could use a little more plate discipline, but the ball just jumps off his bat from both sides of the plate. His offensive ability is very high and this spring will be an interesting test as he and Austin Hedges battle for playing time.
There are others who should be a great story this spring. The Padres are expecting a huge bounce-back year from Eric Hosmer as he should report to Peoria with renewed enthusiasm for the team. Hosmer could have a big 2019 season if he takes all the criticism to heart and makes the proper adjustments with his swing. Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe will also be players to watch this spring. Can both keep up their offensive abilities?
The pitching staff with Eric Lauer, Jacob Nix, and Joey Lucchesi will be a great story as well. Can these three men further their advancement? Will any of the younger pitchers in the system be worthy of starting the season in the Padre rotation? Will Robert Stock continue to throw gas? There are plenty of stories this coming spring and we will keep you up to date here at EVT.