San Diego Padres: Early Spring Surprises: Blash, Cordero, Hedges

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Sep 23, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges (18) hits an RBI sacrifice fly during the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges (18) hits an RBI sacrifice fly during the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /
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The early stages of spring training have gone as expected for the most part for the San Diego Padres. Some pleasant surprises, however, have encouraged the club and their fans.

The San Diego Padres are 6-8 entering Cactus League play on Monday, struggling to pitch well enough to win consistently. For fans though, winning and losing is virtually irrelevant. The play of the team’s key pieces, especially young players, is what most value.

On this front, the outlook is much brighter. Pleasant surprises of spring have flown under the radar nationally but have proven to be very revealing for San Diego.

Jabari Blash dominated the first full week of exhibition play, driving in 12 runs and striking out only six times. Blash has also played well in the outfield, making his case to be thrown in the mix with other potential starters which include Travis Jankowski, Alex Dickerson, Hunter Renfroe, and Manuel Margot.

Franchy Cordero is not yet a familiar name among baseball fans, but is working his way towards becoming one. Starting three spring games in the outfield this past week, Cordero has inherited the trust of his coaching staff and is earning increased playing time. The Padres are clearly interested in seeing what the 22-year-old can do at baseball’s highest level.

And the young outfielder is making the most of his opportunities. His speed has been on display, as the native of the Dominican Republic has legged out two triples, hit a double, and hit a home run in four games. Cordero also walked in a run and has played solidly in the outfield, showing his versatility.

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If nothing else, Blash and Cordero give San Diego two more outfield options in the event of an injury. Depth is often overlooked at this point in the season since excitement and optimism outweighs the reality that not everything is going to work out as planned.

While catcher Austin Hedges entered spring training with high expectations, he has still managed to exceed them. The 24-year-old consistently put the bat on the ball in his limited action early on before his injury. Hedges has proven to be an upgrade over Derek Norris defensively, and provides energy in the lineup which is desperately needed.

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While Hedges continues to rehab, Cordero and Blash look to continue tearing it up in spring training. With these pleasant surprises early on, San Diego fans have something to feel good about, even if the pitching continues to struggle. They also may be getting a foretaste of brighter days to come, which may be sooner than many think.

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