Cory Spangenberg has played a total of eight games at third base as a professional baseball player. Seven of those came at Double-A San Antonio this season, and the eighth came at Petco Park yesterday, when Spangenberg made his major league debut.
You never would have known it watching him play yesterday.
The former first-round pick in the 2011 draft made a diving stop of a ball to his left. He charged in on a squibber, barehanded the ball, and threw a strike to first for the out. He advanced a runner from second to third with a well-hit fly ball in his second at bat. He turned a slim 1-0 lead into a more comfortable 3-0 cushion with his first major-league hit, a two-run single in the fifth inning. The base hit was especially sweet as it came immediately after an intentional walk to Rene Rivera.
Were there nerves? A few. After the diving stop, his throw to second was a bit offline, forcing second baseman Jedd Gyorko to reach far to his right to make the out at second, and preventing him from trying to turn the double play.
Hey, come on. It was his eighth game at third base. And his major league debut. And the Padres still got the out.
Spangenberg was exciting to watch. This kid is a ballplayer.
In the minors, he has primarily played second base, with only one game at another position (LF) prior to this season. But second base is kind of a crowded position for the Padres these days. Gyorko is signed through 2019. Taylor Lindsey, the main prospect received in the Huston Street trade, is manning the position at AAA El Paso. So this year, Spangenberg has branched out a bit. Seven games at third. 15 in center field.
Spangenberg was the number 10 overall pick four years ago, and although some of the shine has come off the apple since then, he is still a quality prospect. His career minor league BA is .296. His OBP is .356. He stole 36 bases last year, and was hitting .331 in El Paso this season.
The Padres seem to be using the remainder of the 2014 season to evaluate the players in their system who have the potential to be impact players. Rymer Liriano. Abraham Almonte. Jesse Hahn. And now Spangenberg.
If yesterday is any indication of what Spangenberg can do, look for the Padres to find some place for him to play in 2015.