San Diego Padres: Brett Nicholas is Raking in Triple-A El Paso
By Tim Ryder
While the San Diego Padres are a man down at catcher, the team should have their sights set on another powerful option in Triple-A El Paso.
Brett Nicholas was traded to the San Diego Padres from the Texas Rangers just a week into the season, after being designated for assignment by the team in March.
The former sixth-round pick (2010) had only racked up 110 MLB plate appearances (2016, 2017), and seemed to have stalled out at Round Rock (he was with Texas’ Triple-A affiliate since 2014).
The 29-year-old was never considered much of a power threat (91 homers in 3,074 MiLB at-bats) but owning a .283/.334/.441 slash line at Triple-A (including this season) surely played a part in bringing him onboard. So far, things have been going pretty well for the nine-year MiLB veteran.
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Nicholas has been tearing it up in El Paso
For the month of April, Nicholas his .329 with a 1.141 OPS, seven doubles, eight home runs, 25 runs batted in, 23 runs scored, and twelve bases-on-balls in 93 plate appearances.
Sure, this was in a small-sample-size and can’t really be trusted but with Austin Hedges out and the duo of A.J. Ellis and Rafael Lopez working at the time being, it’s nice to have another option.
Nicholas has reverted back to form in May, producing at levels a bit closer (actually lower) to his lifetime MiLB numbers with a .250/.284/.429 slash line, three homers, eleven runs batted in, six doubles.
What’s more alarming are his twenty strikeouts in 84 at-bats. A happy little medium would be a perfect place for the backstop to find himself in.
Nicholas should be next man up for Padres
Until Hedges is ready to return, the Ellis/Lopez combination will work fine. But if something should happen, injury-wise, to either of them, for all intents and purposes, Brett Nicholas has to be viewed as the next man up for AJ Preller and Andy Green to tab as a replacement.
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Nicholas is hit .333 with a .988 OPS from May 13 to May 18 before hitting a bit of a speed bump with only two hits in his last twelve at-bats since then. Hopefully, if/when he’s called upon to make his San Diego Padres debut, he’ll be well prepared and back in the swing of things.