Padres Minors: CJ Abrams will open the year at Double-A

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Last year, Minor League Baseball was shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic. After more than a year of waiting, we’ll finally get to watch the top Padres prospects in action throughout different levels of the organization.

With the season kicking off this week, we thought it would be nice to check in with some of the club’s top talent and see where they’ll open the 2021 season. We’ll start with infielder CJ Abrams, who ranks as the eighth-best prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.

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Abrams, just 20 years old, will kick things off with Double-A San Antonio. The young shortstop appeared in 25 games this spring with the Friars and, while he certainly has the defensive tools and speed to succeed at the game’s highest level, he managed just a .283 OBP – and given the Padres’ depth up the middle, there’s no need to rush his development.

Here’s what has to say about the improvements Abrams made last year, even without the Minor League season.

"Abrams’ biggest improvement in 2020 came on the defensive side thanks to his work with the coaching staff at San Diego’s alternate training site. His speed and quickness give him tremendous range in all directions, and he has the hands, actions and plus arm strength needed to make all the plays. And while a move to either second base or center field in deference to Fernando Tatis Jr. may be unavoidable, any such position change shouldn’t keep Abrams from reaching his potential."

Tatis Jr. isn’t moving off shortstop. At second, the Padres have Jake Cronenworth, Jurickson Profar and Ha-Seong Kim all cycling back and forth from the outfield – giving the roster tremendous versatility. All three could be with San Diego for years to come, which means – again – Abrams won’t get the call until AJ Preller and the front office is sure he’s up for good.

Padres: MacKenzie Gore, Luis Campusano are headed to Triple-A

Besides Abrams, the two guys everyone remains focused on are Luis Campusano and MacKenzie Gore – both of whom will open the season with Triple-A El Paso. Given the rash of injuries that have burned through the big league rotation, it seems somewhat likely Gore will be back with the Padres at some point this year.

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Campusano showed he’s not ready for the bigs – at least not yet – early this season, filling in for an injured Austin Nola. Now, he’ll be able to keep working on all aspects of his game as he continues his ascent to San Diego as the team’s long-term answer behind the dish.