San Diego Padres: Three best position battles to watch in Spring Training

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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San Diego Padres, Cal Quantrill will take the mound in Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Rays
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

Trade rumors aside, can Cal Quantrill take the spot from Joey Lucchesi?

Likely with the most to prove this spring, Cal Quantrill will kick things off on Saturday to open the exhibition games. He’s expected to pitch two innings, and, right now, he’s on the outside of the rotation looking in. Joey Lucchesi led the rotation with 163.2 innings pitched last year, and he’s the front-runner for the final spot in the rotation.

Quantrill, 25, has recently been linked to trade rumors with the Boston Red Sox and potentially another team, so his start on Saturday could mean something in terms of showcasing his talent to potential suitors. He tossed 103.0 innings with 89 strikeouts while posting a 5.16 ERA last year, and if not for a 10.90 ERA in September, Quantrill’s numbers would have been much better.

Outside of Lucchesi and Quantrill, another interesting name to watch is MacKenzie Gore. The hype surrounding this kid is real as everyone stopped to watch him pitch live batting practice against both Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. on Wednesday. Gore, 20, is expected to make his big league debut at some point this year, and with a spectacular spring, he could make a convincing case to be inserted into the rotation.

The Padres’ first-round pick of the 2017 MLB Draft posted a 1.69 ERA in 20 starts with 135 strikeouts in 101.0 innings while allowing a .164 average between two levels of the Padres’ minor league system last year.

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Regardless of when he makes his debut, teammates have already noticed his stuff:

"“Pretty nasty,” Tatis said. “He’s got good stuff. Hopefully, he can keep it that way and help the team win.”"