In case you haven’t heard, baseball is coming back.
Major League Baseball announced that an agreement has been reached to start the season on July 23 or 24, with a 60-game season, shortened due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One of the parts to the agreement was to expand the big league rosters from 26 to 30 for the first two weeks of the season, dropping down to 28 after that four another four weeks, with rosters capping at 26 for the postseason run.
This opens the door for four more players to be added to the roster that, in a normal year, would have been playing in Triple-A El Paso or lower.
First, teams will be able to invite up to 60 players for the “spring training” that begins July 1.
Here are a few players the Padres should consider keeping once the (ir)regular season begins.
Much like Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians’ possible experiment of always keeping a quarterback in quarantine just in case things go awry during camp, the Padres should apply that thinking with catchers.
Of course, when Spring Training was in full force, the debate raged on regarding who should start behind the dish between Francisco Mejia and Austin Hedges. If both contract COVID-19 and the season continues, what do the Padres do?
He already has major league experience, playing 56 games in 2017 after being a Rule 5 draftee. Understandably, he struggled, having not played at a level higher than Single-A. After the 2017 season, he went back down to improve his skills further and gain valuable experience.
Now it looks as if he is coming into his own at the plate, posting a stellar 142 wRC+ with a .873 OPS in 97 games for Double-A Amarillo in 2019.
With the rosters expanding to 30 players, carrying a third catcher seems like a no-brainer.
Before the season abruptly paused in March, another debate presented itself with the wild card that is Guerra. Acquired as a touted shortstop project, the bat never caught up with his fielding skills and electric arm. Consequently, Guerra made a move to pitcher, and the results have been ideal thus far. The Panama native boasts a 3.38 ERA in 21 minor league appearances on the mound, all coming last season.
He got a brief taste of the big leagues as a hurler last year, with a 5.19 ERA in eight appearances.
Before Spring Training came to a halt, Guerra had tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Guerra is out of minor league options, thus needing to be on the Opening Day roster, or he would otherwise be subjected to waivers. This new scenario is a perfect excuse to put Guerra on the roster and see what he can do under the big league lights on the mound.
If any organization knows not to give up on a failed-shortstop-prospect-turned-reliever too early, it’s the San Diego Padres.
This is a case of a situation where the Padres just want to see what they have in the big outfielder. After a disappointing season in High-A in 2018, Oña bounced back once arriving in Double-A Amarillo in 2019, with a .348 average and a 167 wRC+ in limited action.
During spring, he hit a mammoth home run and had a 1.089 OPS in four games on the big league club.
He may not have the same light-tower power as former Friar Franmil Reyes, but he might be able to fill the role of big, powerful, right-handed outfielder with a ton of upside. The 23-year-old Cuban has plenty of pop along with respectable athleticism in the outfield to garner a look in the bigs very soon.
Plus, with the universal DH coming to the league for the shortened 2020 season, Oña could get a few looks at the plate and without being rushed or fit into the already crowded outfield.
Many teams will use this opportunity to put their top prospects on display. Trammell has a world of talent and is not yet 23 years old. His elite athleticism will be attractive for San Diego as they happen to play half of their games in spacious Petco Park. He seems fit for a role in their outfield of the future.
After being traded from the Reds organization midseason last year, he struggled to get acclimated initially. However, during his last nine games of the season in Double-A Amarillo, he hit .394 with two home runs, five RBIs, and eight runs scored.
His athletic prowess alone is intriguing enough to put him on the big league field to see what he can do. The Padres hope he is the next big thing in the franchise’s outfield.
Because why the heck not? The most touted pitching prospect in baseball has lived up to the hype in his two and a half seasons of professional ball. He tore up High-A Lake Elsinore last season with a 1.02 ERA in 15 starts. There were some growing pains when he made it to Double-A, but he quickly settled in with a 2.19 ERA in his last three starts for Amarillo.
The North Carolina native looks to be the future ace of the Friars.
With the season being cut short and Minor League Baseball in peril, what better time to bring on your prized prospect and inject life into the fanbase?