San Diego Padres: Christian Villanueva is Legit

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SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Christian Villanueva
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Christian Villanueva /
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The San Diego Padres are exploring options from their minor league system this September, and several players are making quite an impression.

Infielder Christian Villanueva is one of these players making the most out of his September call up. The 26-year-old is building a strong case to compete for a starting job in 2018.

Already driving in seven runs in just 27 at bats, his offensive stats are impressive, as are his defensive abilities at the hot corner.

Where did he Come From?

Christian Villanueva grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico and signed with the Texas Rangers as an international free agent in 2008. In 2012, Villanueva was traded to the Chicago Cubs with Kyle Hendricks in exchange for veteran Ryan Dempster. Villanueva opted to free agency with the Cubs on December 2nd 2016, and signed with the Padres 10 days later.

By the Numbers

Through nine games, Villanueva is hitting .391 with four home runs and 7 RBI’s. He is also slugging an impressive .913 during this stretch. Villanueva’s power to all fields and plate discipline have been equally formidable. The minor league veteran has the capability to drive the ball to all parts of the ballpark. According to MLB.com, his highest exit velocity is on pitches low and outside.

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Minor Leagues

Although Villanueva has had an impressive September thus far, nine games is not a large sample size. With that being said, Villanueva had an extremely successful year in Triple-A El Paso. In 398 at-bats, Villanueva is hitting a whopping .296. He also leads the Chihuahuas with 20 home runs and 86 runs batted in. Villanueva has shown improved plate discipline through a career high 43 walks this season. The most impressive statistic of Villanueva’s 2017 campaign is his .896 slugging percentage.

Next: Series against Dodgers reveals gulf between clubs

2018

The future looks bright for the 26-year-old rookie. After posting a .269 career batting average though 8 minor league seasons, Villanueva seems ready for the major leagues. With Yangervis Solarte moving towards second base, Villanueva will have a solid opportunity to compete for the starting third base job in 2018.

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