Padres Outfielders Excelling in El Paso

Matt Wadleigh
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While the Padres just got swept again by the San Francisco Giants, not all is bad in Padre-land. Of course, to find some bright spots, we need to travel more than 700 miles east to El Paso, where the Padres triple-A affiliate is located.

The El Paso Chihuahuas have a ton of talent, especially in the outfield. Ironic isn’t it? Earlier this week, Matt Kemp dropped what should have been a routine fly ball to give the Giants walk-off win number one of the series, and to add more fuel to the fire, Kemp has been abysmal at the plate in the month of May. Jon Jay has cooled off after starting the season off well, and the only Padre outfielder to perform somewhat consistently is Melvin Upton Jr.

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However, El Paso has a handful of outfielders that are excelling at the game in south Texas. First, let’s start off with Jabari Blash.

Blash made the Padres roster in spring training after having a power surge in Arizona, but failed to translate any of that to the big league level. Blash appeared in 23 games for the Padres and recorded 25 at-bats, but only got three hits. Of those three hits, only one was for extra bases, and that one was not a home run. Blash also struck out 13 times in 25 plate appearances, which is more than half. The Padres then placed Blash on waivers (which he cleared), only to reacquire him from the Seattle Mariners for cash considerations.

Blash has performed a bit better in Triple-A, appearing in six games with a total of 16 at-bats, but three home runs in his short time in EL Paso. Blash has still struggled with strike outs, but the fact that Blash is getting more at bats and more opportunities is a good sign. In almost two months with the Padres, Blash only got 25 at-bats, but in a little more than a week with El Paso, Blash has already gotten 16 at-bats. Perhaps the move to Triple-A was beneficial for Jabari, a slugger with a ton of power who just needs to be more consistent and find a rhythm.

The next up is another player who spent some time with the big league club this season: Alex Dickerson. Dickerson was with the big league club for a few games earlier this month, being used as a pinch-hitter. However, Dickerson has been on fire in El Paso. The outfielder has strung together a 23 game hit streak after going 2 for 4 on Wednesday, which is good for the longest hitting streak in Minor League Baseball this season. Even more impressive, Dickerson is hitting .421 from the plate in 32 games for El Paso with 28 RBI and seven home runs.

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The left-handed hitting Dickerson, a Poway native, has been marvelous in the Padres Triple-A organization in 2016. Even dating back to last season, Dickerson hit .307 with 12 homers and 71 RBI in 125 games for El Paso before spending some time with the Padres towards the end of the season.

The emergence of Dickerson the past few seasons really makes you wonder if he will be getting a permanent call-up anytime soon to Petco Park. Not only can the Padres use a consistent left-handed hitter, the outfield has been a problem for the last few weeks, with the exception of Upton.

That’s not all though. Next up is Hunter Renfroe, a name many Padre fans know and are anxiously waiting to hear be called up to the big league ball club.

Renfroe is a power hitter, and even that is an understatement. Renfroe is just 24 years old, younger than both Dickerson and Blash by a year or so. So far in 42 games for El Paso, Renfroe is hitting .318 with 30 RBI and nine home runs. His slugging percentage is .584 and his OPS is .928 in 2016 alone. Renfroe hit 20 homers combined between San Antonio and El Paso in 2015, and another 21 combined between Lake Elsinore and San Antonio in 2014. Renfroe is a power hitter, a power hitting outfielder that the Padres can desperately use.

As for now, Renfroe-like many Padre fans- is anxiously awaiting the call and the promotion to the big league club. Will it be soon? With the struggles of Matt Kemp, and the trade rumors swirling around the entire Padres team, maybe Renfroe will be hitting in Petco Park before the All-Star Break.

But wait, that’s not all. Last of all, Manuel Margot, the 21-year-old Dominican born outfielder the Padres acquired in the huge Craig Kimbrel trade. Margot is by far the youngest of all the aforementioned players, and won’t turn 22 until September. Margot has been in the minors since 2012 when he was just a teenager, and it’s almost safe to say he is the Padres leadoff man of the future. Ever since joining the minor leagues in 2012, Margot has stolen a total of 146 bases, including this season in El Paso. Margot has 21 RBI in 43 games for the Chihuahuas and has a .282 batting average this season. Margot is an athlete, plain and simple, and is only 21 years of age.

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When the rosters expand in September, the Padres might add all four of these guys, if not one or two before then. With the Padres 10 games under .500, and Preller scratching his head and figuring out what to do, don’t be surprised if AJ makes a trade to get rid of Matt Kemp and his contract, or if he trades away Jon Jay to a contender needed an outfielder, or somehow, someway trades away Melvin Upton and his near-untradeable contract. We have seen what Preller can and has done, and nothing will surprise us anymore.

As for these four guys, the future of the Padres outfield is bright, to say the least. Within a year, the Padres could have a starting outfield of Hunter Renfroe, Alex Dickerson and Manuel Margot, with Jabari Blash a rotation player, or vice versa. So much talent in the El Paso outfield just waiting to come up and the future, at least for the beautiful grass of Petco Park, is bright.

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