Five standouts halfway through Padres’ spring training

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Spring training is roughly halfway over, and several San Diego Padres are standing out with their exceptional performances. 

Opening Day is two weeks away, and things are heating up for the Padres in Peoria.

The grind continues for those players vying for that coveted 26th spot on the roster. Others are looking to make a strong impression before being sent to San Diego’s alternate site and eventually the minor leagues later this season. Several Friars have stood out, regardless of whether or not they have much of a shot to make the roster or, in some cases, much of a chance of not making the roster. Of course, it goes without saying that spring training statistics are to be taken with a rather large grain of salt. They are not, however, completely meaningless, especially for these players below.

Here is a look at five players who have produced at a high level thus far during spring training.

Tucupita Marcano

Marcano was signed in 2016 out of Venezuela, and the Padres are excited about his contact skills at the plate, which has shown through in his first full spring look at the big league level. In 13 games as of Tuesday, the 21-year-old is batting an absurd .429 with an equally head-spinning 1.412 OPS in 21 at-bats. He’s also piled up three extra-base hits, a double, one triple, and a home run. Among players who have at least 20 at-bats this spring for the Friars, he leads the group in batting average and OPS.

The No. 6 prospect in the organization has played all over the field, including right and left field as well as third base and shortstop. He is projected as a middle infielder but is athletic enough to play multiple spots. His performance thus far this spring just adds to the embarrassment of riches San Diego has among infield prospects.

CJ Abrams

Between Marcano and Abrams, the latter certainly brings more of the fanfare as a highly-touted prospect. He is regarded as San Diego’s best position player prospect and ranks No. 21 in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 overall prospects. His speed and athleticism are off the charts, and it has been on display so far this spring. On defense, he has made some excellent plays in the infield. The Padres seem set on keeping Abrams at shortstop or second in the long run.

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Abrams mashed a grand slam in Monday’s blowout win over the Brewers, his second home run of the season. His 10 RBI is second in all of Major League Baseball this spring. His 80-grade speed is displayed with his three stolen bases without a caught stealing so far. San Diego should be thrilled with how the 20-year-old has looked in camp. Whether it be as a trade chip down the line or as a contributor on the big-league club with game-changing speed and athleticism, Abrams looks to be every bit as valuable as the organization thought.

Jorge Mateo

Mateo came into camp being without minor league options, so it is basically “do-or-die” for his chances to stick with the Padres’ big league club. Otherwise, he will be subjected to waivers if San Diego opts to leave him off the Opening Day roster. His speed has always been the most attractive part of his game. However, you need to hit and get on base enough for that speed to matter. Up until this spring, Mateo really had not accomplished that. This month, however, things have changed.

Through Monday’s action, Mateo is getting on base at a 50 percent clip with a .393 batting average. He has also swiped two bags and scored six runs in the 12 games. With the margin for error razor-thin between several candidates vying for that last outfield spot, Mateo is making his presence felt. If he continues hitting like this, given his lack of minor league options, the Padres are almost obligated to put him on their initial roster.

Tim Hill

Hill certainly is not a non-roster invitee whose chances of making the roster are just a pipe dream as the 31-year-old appeared in 23 of the 60 games for the squad last season. Especially with the loss of Jose Castillo to Tommy John surgery, Hill emerges as a candidate to fill the vital role of a lefty arm out of the bullpen. In his first four appearances in camp, Hill is yet to allow an earned run with eight strikeouts and one walk through four innings. He worked out of a bases-loaded-nobody-out jam without a blemish.

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His sinker/slider combo is a nightmare for left-handed batters. If he can translate early success in the spring to Petco Park on Opening Day and beyond, the Friars’ bullpen just got that much deeper.

Chris Paddack

During the course of the 2020 season, perhaps no other Padres player was subject to more scrutiny than Paddack. After a stellar rookie campaign in 2019, he fell flat in the shortened season last year. His fastball command was nonexistent, and it was getting crushed. This spring, Paddack has come on strong and seems to be more finely tuned than he was at any point in 2020. Through three appearances, he has thrown seven innings with just a 1.29 ERA, and just one walk along with five strikeouts, and the fastball seems crisper. Opponents are batting .192 off of the Texas native so far in March.

Things are looking up for Paddack to be an essential part of what looks to be one of the strongest starting rotations in Padres history. If this new-and-improved Paddack can show up for the regular season, San Diego will boast one of the most feared rotations in all of baseball. So far, so good for The Sheriff.

1 thought on “Five standouts halfway through Padres’ spring training

  1. I’ve enjoyed watching everyone via tv this spring. Abrams is quite impressive. I’m not sure how much longer we can stash him in the minors. I think he’ll be one we regret trading should it come to that. I hope they’ll give him some CF work in the minors since we could use more depth there. It’s likely his best chance at breaking into our roster in a year or two.

    Ona has not impressed me with his bat skills so I’m giving the nod to Mateo over him. But O’grady and others are looking pretty good too. Tough decisions ahead but good news for our minor teams.

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