Unless you were born in a barn or have not paid any attention to the Padres so far this spring, you likely have heard the name “Jemile Weeks” mentioned quite a bit.
The younger brother of former Brewers star Rickie Weeks, Jemile was signed to a minor league contract with a spring training invite during late January. The utility man has performed well thus far in the spring, with 6 hits in 13 at bats. He has also scored five runs, stolen two bases, and has driven in two runs.
Not only has he performed at the plate, but he also has shown the ability to play third, shortstop, and second base. It seems as if the “Jemile Weeks” train is full speed ahead thus far, and his chances of making the opening day roster have moved from “no chance” to “possible.”
OK, anyways, Weeks was drafted 12th overall by the Oakland Athletics in 2008. He quickly ascended up the A’s system, showing an ability to hit for average and get on base. When he reached the big leagues in 2011, he performed like a potential star. In 437 plate appearances, Weeks hit .303/.340/.421 with 2 home runs and drove in 36. He also stole 22 bases in 97 games. His .350 BABIP and only 19.4 hard hit percentage shows he might have gotten a bit fortunate, but he still had a fantastic year and the entire baseball world was intrigued.
In 2012, though, Weeks went through a sophomore slump. He hit .221/.304/.305 in 511 plate appearances, with only 16 stolen bases. It was a very bad year, as his BABIP dipped to .256 and hard hit % dipped to 17.4. His defense at second base was suspect, with a -7.7 UZR, -14 defensive runs saved, 11 errors, and a -11 UZR/150. Eventually he was sent down to AAA and was not called up for the rest of the year.
After only playing in thirteen games in 2013, he was traded to the Orioles and then subsequently traded to the RedSox, and only played in 17 games in 2014. It was basically two lost years for Weeks, who was in need of a revitalization. He struggled in 2015, only hitting .204 in 70 AAA games. A September call up netted him 9 plate appearances and three hits with the Red Sox at the big league level. His contract expired after 2015, and after a long offseason, the 29-year-old Weeks decided to sign with the Friars in attempt to get his career back on track.
So, who IS Jemile Weeks? Well……
First of all, WATCH THIS AND TELL ME YOU ARE NOT A FAN!! (I bet you can’t.)
If there was ever a team for Jemile Weeks, it was this year’s Padres. With their roster anything but set, the utility role on the 2016 Padres is a free-for-all. With Skip Schumaker retiring earlier in the week and Carlos Asuaje being sent down to minor league camp, Weeks is likely in a battle with Adam Rosales, Nick Noonan, Jose Pirela, and Alexi Amarista for a roster spot. Some say Amarista has an inside track for the job due to his ability to play backup shortstop. Andy Green agrees with the sentiment that the utility man must be solid at short: “His (Weeks) success and opportunity to make this club is predicated on his ability to handle shortstop,” Green said. “That’s big for him and I also told him, ‘Guess what, you’re not going to play shortstop every day out there. You’re going to have to rep it out in practice.’”
Of all players in camp, Weeks is only one of three switch hitters. Among the remaining utility players, Weeks has the most speed, the best ability to draw walks, and the potential for a solid OBP.
If he makes the roster, his speed will be a likely reason why, and Weeks knows it. His speed will (hopefully) provide more fastballs to some of the Padres power hitters: “The Matt Kemps, the (Melvin) Uptons, the Wil Myers, the game might come a little easier to them when there’s disruption on the base paths and in the field.”
Weeks has outperformed all of the utility candidates (and pretty much the entire roster) in the first ten games of spring. It is an incredibly small sample size, but Amarista has 1 hit in 11 at bats (.091), Noonan has 3 hits in 11 at bats (.273), and Rosales has 3 hits in 13 at bats (.231). Jose Pirela has gotten a bit more of a peek, with 20 at bats, but is only hitting .200.
I am going to say this: if Jemile Weeks keeps performing like he currently is in spring, he may replace Alexi Amarista as the utility man on the 2016. He seems to fit Andy Green’s “toolsy” mantra, and even Green has professed his fandom for Weeks so far this spring: “Jemile Weeks has played very well. He’s hit the ball hard. … He’s an intriguing piece.”
If anything, Weeks on this roster will be a player who is aggressive on the basepaths and just be an overall fun and interesting player to watch. With a roster that does not have a lot of that, Weeks will be a sight for sore eyes.
Keep an eye on Jemile Weeks this spring. He may end up being in San Diego on April 4, being announced at Petco Park as a member of the 2016 San Diego Padres.