Several Spring Training battles set to begin for Padres
Hunter Renfroe broke out in 2019. General manager A.J. Preller took advantage of his value and traded for Tommy Pham, which opened up right field.
Whoever doesn’t win the center field job will be up for right field. The only other potential outfielder that hasn’t been mentioned yet is Josh Naylor.
Naylor struggled in the field, grading well below average in every defensive metric.
The Canadian gets some slack considering that he’s a first baseman, but can’t play there because of Eric Hosmer. Naylor did slim down some this offseason, which will help his range in the outfield. His plus arm is encouraging for right field, but won’t be the difference for his playing time. Naylor’s bat must become more consistent, and his fielding needs to improve if he wants a shot in right.
Josh Naylor in the cage. Guy has lost a ton of weight. Only recognized him by his hair! He looks very good. More flexible body swing. #SpringTraining2020 #GoPadres pic.twitter.com/JDGtY76tXR
— Steve Virissimo (@Radioguy76) February 15, 2020
The San Diego Padres have one of the league’s best bullpens on paper. Yates is arguably the best closer in baseball, Pomeranz dominated in the second half last year, Craig Stammen is a dependable workhorse, Pagan broke out, and others flashed potential.
There are a couple of locks and a couple of probables, but the bullpen is wide open.
Andres Munoz was unhittable before his last two outings spiked his ERA and WHIP. Michel Baez allowed six of his ten total runs in just two of his 24 appearances. Pierce Johnson is coming off of a successful season in Japan in which his curveball gave hitters fits. The three will likely round out the right-handed pitchers in the pen, but Luis Perdomo, Ronald Bolanos, Trey Wingenter, and David Bednar will provide stiff competition. Don’t forget about Jake Cronenworth and Javy Guerra.
As for the left-handed pitching, four pitchers are battling for three spots. Drew Pomeranz is a lock given his contract. That leaves Matt Strahm, Jose Castillo, and Adrian Morejon for the final two spots.
Strahm began 2019 as a starter, and his season got off to a good start, but it took a turn for the worse. Once starting pitching prospects reached the bigs, Strahm moved back to the pen, where he is more effective. His 3.27 ERA out of the pen last year is very encouraging for 2020. Knowing that he will not be in the rotation this year, his arm will be fresh going to the bullpen this time around, which will likely lead to even more impressive numbers.
Castillo only made one appearance in 2019 after his 3.29 ERA in 2018. It came on August 8, and it got off to a shaky start with a walk. He rebounded by striking out the next two batters, only to leave with an injury before completing the injury. He is healthy now and looking to make the opening day roster.
Adrian Morejon is one of the San Diego Padres’ top prospects. This lefty possesses one of the best pitching arsenals in all of the minors. He saw brief time in the majors in 2019 before landing on the IL, but his time with the Padres saw little success.
In five appearances, he allowed a run in four innings, and three times he allowed multiple runs. Morejon will need to outshine Castillo and Strahm if he wants to make the opening day roster, but he surely will suit up in brown sometime in 2020.
This is the highest anticipated Spring Training for the San Diego Padres in quite some time. With high expectations and a lot of question marks, the Padres come to Phoenix looking for answers. The more questions answered in February in March, the better this team will be.
Dominic is currently a Senior at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, studying Sports Journalism. He also hosts the “Devils Talking Padres” podcast and is the producer and co-host of the “Padres EVT Podcast.