Ty France has burst onto the scene in El Paso, especially with his bat.
El Paso had a blazing week offensively, and it was many thanks to infielder Ty France. One can no longer say “third baseman” as France has been all over the place for El Paso, playing games at second and first base as well. France just finished up one of the best weeks anyone can have on a baseball field.
Those are, quite simply, video game numbers. He was named PCL Player of the Week, and it’s safe to assume the competition was nowhere close. France now leads all of the Pacific Coast League in home runs (9), RBI (28), OPS (1.431) and wRC+ (241).
France’s white-hot week calls into question the second base situation at the major league level in San Diego. Luis Urias just was sent back down after floundering through about a dozen games without much success. Ian Kinsler, the regular second baseman for the Padres in 2019, is hitting .154 with a meager .493 OPS. In fact, as a team, the Padres are 29th in WAR by second baseman this season and 28th in batting average.
France has played all of five games at second base in his minor league career, all coming this season. The Padres likely are trying France at different spots since he is blocked at third for at least the next five seasons by a certain Manny Machado.
The fact that they have him trying out second is by no accident. The Friars could be searching for a short-term answer while Urias gains experience and regains confidence in El Paso this season.
France’s bat has shown up everywhere he has been as he has never hit for any less than a 104 wRC+ at every level and is a career 190 wRC+ hitter in Triple-A in 43 games. Could it be time to see what France can do at second base on the Padres’ roster?
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) April 22, 2019
Of course, Kinsler will likely be on the roster whether everyone likes it or not, that comes with the two-year, $8 million contract San Diego gave him. That’s a debate for another day. Kinsler has been close to hapless at the plate at a time where the Padres are searching for answers for offensive production. Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Wil Myers have been the most consistent hitters in the lineup, and they need help badly.
Urias is still the second baseman of the future, but it’s clear he is not yet ready for an everyday role. The situation with France is feeling an awful lot like Franmil Reyes last season, who opened up PCL play with 13 home runs and a .345 average through one month of play before earning a call-up in mid-May.
France’s numbers are starting to look a lot like Reyes’ through the first month. What is the harm in trying him out for a spell at second base? Could the offensive production be any worse? It’s time to give the kid a chance.