Happy 36th birthday to former Padre outfielder Will Venable.
The San Diego Padres drafted him in the 7th round out of Princeton University in 2005.
It was covered a lot during his time in San Diego, but since he’s been gone a while, let me remind you that he was an All-Ivy League basketball player for Princeton before he found his niche on the baseball diamond.
With that basketball background, he used his athleticism to make some exciting plays in the outfield, including one of the best catches in Padres history (video below).
He broke into the big leagues in 2008 with San Diego. By 2010, he was an everyday player, mostly in right field. That year, he hit 13 home runs and stole 29 bases. His best season at the plate was clearly 2013. He set a career high (by a ton) in home runs with 22. He wouldn’t sniff 20 again. He hit .268 with a .796 OPS. He also played in 151 games that year.
Defensively, he was consistently one of the best with the glove on those Padre squads. In 2010, he logged over 600 innings in right field and posted a borderline-Gold Glove +14 Defensive Runs Saved. Including his appearances at the other outfield spots, Venable had a +19 DRS overall in 2010, truly an elite glove.
That would be his best year with the glove as there would be a slight decline each year from there on out, but still, he was very much an underrated defender.
Coming off of that solid 2013, he struggled to repeat it that next season. He batted just .224 with eight homers. Then, in August 2015, much to the chagrin of Padres fans who had grown to love him for the better part of eight years, he was traded. He went to the Texas Rangers for reliever Jon Edwards and current rising prospect Marcus Greene.
He only appeared in 37 games for the Rangers, hitting just .182. The Phillies then took a flyer on him during spring training of 2016, but he was released a few months later. The Dodgers snatched him up that June and he played just 12 games in the big leagues, with just one hit.
Where is Will Venable now? In September of 2016, he was named a special assistant to perhaps the best general manager in the game, Theo Epstein of the Chicago Cubs. He later went on to be the team’s first base coach during the 2018 season.
Venable certainly won the heart of Padres fans, who are starved for players who stay longer than two or three years. In fact, with San Diego always struggling to keep players in town, Venable is currently sixth on the franchise list in games played at 918. He was the longest-tenured Padre for a few seasons.
Happy Birthday, Will.