Baseball experts aren’t projecting the San Diego Padres to be anything more than a .500 ballclub this season. I think that there’s enough talent on this roster, and even deeper into the farm system, to surprise a ton of people this year.
I’ll give those pundits one inch of leeway in this discussion; this year’s edition of the San Diego Padres is a young and mostly unproven group of players.
After a small handful of veterans, the rest of this Friars roster is comprised of early-to-mid 20s players who haven’t really had much of an opportunity to prove themselves at the MLB-level yet.
After some offseason additions, like Eric Hosmer, Chase Headley, Freddy Galvis, and projected backup catcher, A.J. Ellis, and stalwarts like Wil Myers and even, to an extent, Jose Pirela, this is mostly an inexperienced group.
Manuel Margot figures to be an everyday player, as do Carlos Asuaje and Austin Hedges. None of these players have much MLB service-time, to begin with. Being promoted into the Padres’ starting lineup this year, they figure to have their work cut out for them.
They’ve all been raking in Spring Training. Margot, maybe not so much, but he’s certainly coming along.
Facing MLB-level pitching for four or five at-bats a night on an everyday basis could expose some of their youthful inexperience, but it will be up to them to make the necessary adjustments and continuously get better.
Benefits of having veterans around for San Diego Padres’ young players
Having guys like Hosmer and Headley around to keep these young players’ chins up when they should fail will bring an added dimension to the team this season, especially for those wet-behind-the-ears players.
After injuries and limited playing time have slowed down his MLB-progressions, he is surely hoping to have himself a breakout season and secure his place on this Friars’ roster for the next couple of seasons.
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Villanueva is, by all accounts, developing into a future star. His amazing Cactus League production levels have definitely been a bit skewed coming against a mixed-bag of pitching talent.
Still, it leaves Padres’ fans dreaming of the possibilities of the future with the Mexican native at the hot corner.
Padres pitching staff will be the fulcrum
The Padres’ pitching staff, specifically the starting rotation, figures to be the team’s Achilles heel this season.
After Clayton Richard, the rest of the Friars’ starting five is comprised of, again, young and mostly inexperienced pitchers.
Tyson Ross could be considered an exception, but coming back from a serious injury, to put his chances of success at “hit-or-miss” would still be a bit too optimistic, in my opinion.
He’s looked pretty good so far this spring, but as MLB hitters see him more, the scouting report on him (or whatever is added to the old one) will make its rounds pretty quickly. Once again, adjustments will be the name of the game here.
Padres ‘pen could succeed if used correctly
Even in the Padres’ bullpen, there’s a decent amount of talent. Closer Brad Hand is primed to have himself a big season with the expected increase in save opportunities he’ll see this season.
The addition of Kaz Makita figures to give the Friars relief corps a new look. His 58 MPH Eephus curveball has already gotten the attention of hitters, coaches, and scouts this spring.
After Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates, the rest of the bullpen will be made up of a combination of Phil Maton, Robbie Erlin, Carter Capps, Jordan Lyles, Matt Strahm, Kyle McGrath, Buddy Baumann, and Colten Brewer.
I have no interest in speculating who manager Andy Green might take with him to San Diego to start the season, but if he plays his cards right (and if they all fall the right way for the hurlers themselves) this combo of relievers could be effective, in my opinion.