It’s not a sure thing that Padres catcher Austin Nola misses Opening Day. But given he’s yet to swing a bat on the road back from his fractured finger on his left hand, it’s safe to say his status is certainly questionable at this point.
Should that be the case, San Diego has a backup plan firmly in place in the form of Victor Caratini and top prospect Luis Campusano. The 22-year-old enters the 2021 campaign as the #36 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America – and he might just be the next young phenom to turn heads for the Padres.
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Most of the attention tends to fall on San Diego’s crop of young arms. But in Campusano, the Padres boast one of the youngest, most exciting catching prospects in the game.
The typical path prospects follow to the big leagues is totally out of whack right now. Last year, the Minor League Baseball season was a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic – so the last competitive in-game action some of these guys saw came two years ago.
In 2019, Campusano tore it up at High-A. He batted .325/.396/.509 in 110 contests, smacking 15 home runs and driving in 81 runs. Last year, he spent time at the team’s alternate site and made his big league debut – crossing his first career knock off the list in the process.
Padres know Luis Campusano is the future behind the plate
He’ll want more than a taste this year, though. And if he gets the opportunity to open the season, it’ll be exciting to see if he can make the most of it.
Even if he’s not back right away, Nola isn’t expected to miss a whole lot of time. That means Campusano could have limited action to make his presence felt and give the Padres a glimpse of what’s to come. Even if he excels, though, don’t expect a full season of big league action from him unless Nola or Caratini miss time.
The Padres are in an interesting spot behind the dish with all three backstops under long-term control. At some point, they’ll pass the baton to Campusano – but it’s hard to envision them doing so early during the 2021 season.
But make no mistake. He is the future for the franchise – and it won’t be long before he’s the everyday receiver for this loaded pitching staff.