The Spring Training slate is more than halfway over, and several Padres have stood out thus far.
The Padres have played 10 Spring Training games as of Monday’s dramatic comeback win over the White Sox and have eight remaining before Opening Day on April 7.
These five players have sprinted out of the gate with a hot start to spring.
Let’s not bury the lede here. Abrams is stealing the show in big league camp and has his sights set on stealing a spot on the Padres’ Opening Day roster. Not that he wouldn’t deserve it, as his spring stats speak for themselves. The athletic shortstop is batting .350 (7-for-20) with two homers (though Bob Melvin would correct you, declaring he was robbed of a third on an iffy foul ball call). He leads the team with seven hits and owns a robust 1.031 OPS.
"I'm telling you, this kid is special."
Tooled-up Padres prospect CJ Abrams showing some 💪
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 19, 2022
Despite being just 21 years old with fewer than 400 plate appearances in the minors, he is making a strong case to make the big league roster out of camp. His case is aided by the injury to Fernando Tatis Jr., his counterpart at shortstop. If he has the same kind of finish to spring as he started, it will be nearly impossible to keep him away from San Diego.
If they handed out awards in Spring Training, Alfaro would currently be the odds-on favorite for Cactus League MVP. Even before Monday’s onslaught, Alfaro had hit majestic home runs and sprayed the ball all over the yard in an attempt to earn an Opening Day roster spot as a backup catcher.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) March 28, 2022
After Monday’s showing, which included yet another homer, his Cactus League-high fourth, and a three-run double, his RBI total rose to 10. He leads the team in homers, RBI, extra-base hits, slugging, and OPS. The ball is jumping off of his bat. It will be difficult to keep him off the roster if he continues to hit at this pace, be it as a catcher or a bat with thump off of the bench.
Gore entered this spring with more questions than answers after floundering for the last two seasons. After becoming as high as the No. 3 overall prospect in baseball in 2020, he fell from grace due to inconsistencies in his delivery and control. Through two starts this spring, plenty of those questions and doubts have been answered. He looks as good as new, perhaps even better than he did at the peak of his hype as a prospect.
MacKenzie Gore's 1st inning Ks. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Ngx9ApNY7g
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 23, 2022
In five innings, he has seven strikeouts, zero walks, one hit, and zero runs allowed. His command looked pinpoint, and his confidence looks restored. Plus, he appears to have added more velocity, touching north of 96 mph after struggling to meet the mid-90s previously. He is making a strong case to break camp as the fifth starter. However, given his recent track record, the Padres may want to see a few more good outings in El Paso before making the big move.
If ever there was a spring where Kim needed to get off to a good start in his baseball career, this is it. So far, so good for the presumed Opening Day shortstop in Fernando Tatis Jr.’s absence. Thus far, he is 5-for-13 (.385) with a double, one RBI, and .929.
Additionally, he has looked as solid as ever on defense at short. The Padres have to be overjoyed with his start to spring. Hopefully, he can maintain this production and enter the regular season as confident as he has ever been since arriving in the United States from Korea.
The Padres are searching for their closer of 2022. Most, if not all, of the bullpen roles, are still up for grabs. Wilson was an eighth-round draft pick by San Diego in 2018 and has slowly worked his way up the chain. Now, he is on the cusp of earning a roster spot, and his performance so far proves he is ready. Through four innings, he has allowed just two baserunners, and no runs, along with four strikeouts.
After a 3.43 ERA in 28 appearances in Triple-A El Paso last year, it would seem Wilson is set for the next jump to the big leagues. If he can continue to get outs with allowing minimal baserunners as he has done so far, he should earn a consistent role in the Padres’ bullpen.