In November of 2015, the San Diego Padres traded four-time MLB All-Star closer, Craig Kimbrel, to the Boston Red Sox.
In return, A.J. Preller and the Padres received four of some of the Red Sox top available prospects. One of those prospects was, at the time, 20-year-old Dominican outfielder, Manuel Margot.
The initial scouting report on Margot was simple: a very good athlete with a solid glove that could hit the ball more for contact than for power. Margot first appeared in the Padres’ farm system with Triple-A El Paso and it was little time before he began to truly excel.
In 124 games last season with El Paso, Margot posted an impressive .304/.351/.426 stat line. Margot had 157 hits last season, totaling 220 bases and driving in 56 runs. He puts the ball in play well, striking out only 64 times throughout the entire season. Whenever he was on base, Margot was always a threat, swiping 30/41 bases, showcasing his incredible speed. Besides being a great presence offensively, he’s also a great defender. Many remember Margot’s phenomenal catch in the MLB All-Star Future’s game, using his phenomenal athleticism to his advantage in the outfield. All of these tools contributed to the success that Margot had at the Triple-A level, while also leading his team to a PCL Championship.
After being called up to the Padres in September of last season, Margot showed some signs of promise in the small sample size we had to measure him. In 10 games, Margot only had nine hits, however five of those came for extra bases. He was perfect in base stealing (2/2), and perfect in the outfield as well. Manuel Margot was beginning to show signs that he may be the cornerstone of the Padres’ outfield for many years to come.
Now, let’s fast forward to 2017. Spring training was rough on Margot, as he missed most of it with a knee injury suffered during a game. Many Padres fans were unsure if Margot would even begin the season with the team, as he needs to spend 24 days in the minor leagues to gain an extra season with the Padres. Nothing, however, could stop Margot from going on the tear he has been on since the start of the season.
In 10 games so far with the Padres, Manny Margot may be the hottest hitters in baseball right now. Margot has 13 hits, seven of those for extra bases, while posting an insane .325/.372/.650 batting line. Margot has already blasted three home runs, half as many as he did last year, and all of those coming from the leadoff spot in the order. He’s been the spark plug of this offense for the entire season, getting on base and giving Wil Myers, Yangervis Solarte, and Hunter Renfroe baserunners to work with. Defensively, he’s been stellar, making only a throwing error in the 3-2 loss to Colorado, allowing a baserunner to advance from first to third.
What has contributed to Margot’s success this season? To start things off, he is hitting the ball extremely hard. Even when he doesn’t get on base, Margot is making solid contact with the ball, which is something an organization wants to see from a young player. Margot has also showed us that speed and hustle kills, as we saw him turn what should have been two singles into two doubles against the Giants in the previous series. Another huge thing contributing to Margot’s offensive success in this young season is that he has shown some power thus far. Last season in El Paso, Margot only hit six home runs. This season, Margot is up to three of them already, two of them coming in the same game in a win against the Giants. Defensively, Margot relies heavily on his speed to have success out there, but he also boasts one of the best young gloves we will see from an outfielder all season. His nine putouts against the Rockies on Wednesday were one away from the most in a single game by an outfielder. Margot also has a phenomenal read on balls off the bat, allowing him to get excellent jumps on balls hit to the outfield.
The potential that Margot has is through the roof. He has the talent to truly be the Padres’ center fielder for year to come, as well as a perennial Gold Glover and a potential all-star. It would also not be so surprising to see Margot run away with the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2017. As of right now, he should clearly be the favorite. Get ready, Padres fans, a future star is emerging before your eyes.