San Diego Padres: Three sleeper candidates to make the roster

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San Diego Padres, Jake Cronenworth
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Jake Cronenworth

Jake Cronenworth came over to the Padres in the Tommy Pham trade back in early December. The former University of Michigan standout was drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. He smacked a whopping 10 home runs during his three years in Ann Arbor but made up for it with 36 doubles and nine triples while batting .312.

The 26-year-old spent all of last season playing for the Rays Triple-A outfit and slashed .334/.429/.520 with 26 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, and 45 RBI in 94 games. He primarily plays at shortstop but has seen a considerable amount of time at both second and third base in his professional career.

How does he fit into the roster this season? While shortstop is almost certainly not an option – outside of a Fernando Tatis Jr. injury – he should have the opportunity to get playing time at second base. The position is wide open in Spring Training with Brian Dozier, Jurickson Profar, and Greg Garcia as the primary candidates.

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However, Cronenworth’s versatility is invaluable, and with a strong showing in spring, he can find his way onto the roster with a potential to start at second base. On Wednesday, he replaced Tatis at shortstop in the game against Cleveland and went 2-2 with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning.

He could also spot start at third when Machado needs a day off.