San Diego Padres: 5 player improvements needed to contend

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Manny Machado #13 of the San Diego Padres tosses his bat after striking out during the the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park September 20, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Manny Machado #13 of the San Diego Padres tosses his bat after striking out during the the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park September 20, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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Francisco  Mejia #27 of the San Diego Padres. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Francisco  Mejia #27 of the San Diego Padres. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /

Francisco  Mejia has to improve his defense

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This is a very big season for the 24-year-old Francisco Mejia to prove that he can be the catcher of the future for the Padres.

Hitting has never really been an issue for Mejia, and he put together a solid season at the plate for San Diego in 2019, hitting .265/.316 with eight home runs in 226 at-bats.

If given the starting job, I feel pretty confident he’ll be a .275/.330 hitter one day with 15-20 home runs.

The big question for Mejia will be how he progresses defensively behind the plate as that’s been the primary knock on him throughout his career.

According to FanGraphs, he posted DRS in 463 innings last year at catcher with a frame rating of -4.3.

By comparison, Austin Hedges had 22 DRS in 2019 in 813 innings with a frame rating of 20.7, according to FanGraphs.

Hedges is known to be one of the best defensive catchers in the game, so that’s not a fair comparison, but Mejia has to be better.

He ranked 25th in baseball in DRS last year among catchers that caught at least 450 innings and was 30th in frame rating.

If he can be average in both of those categories and the bat continues to develop like many think it will, that would be huge for the Padres in 2020.

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What are some player improvements you’ll be looking for this season? Let us know in the comments below.

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