Padres 2024 Opening Day roster projection 1.0: Top prospect solves outfield shortage

Who will take the field for the Padres during the first game of the 2024 season?

San Diego Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill
San Diego Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Padres Opening Day outfield (4)

  • Fernando Tatis Jr.
  • Jose Azocar
  • Jackson Merrill
  • Jurickson Profar

The Padres addressed the void in their outfield, sort of, with the addition of Jurickson Profar. But Profar should not be seen as an everyday player, especially given the number of talented prospects currently in the San Diego farm system. And that's where Jackson Merrill comes in.

The Padres sent up a signal on Thursday when Merrill debuted in left field for the Friars' Cactus League opener. Though a natural shortstop, Merrill will be given every chance to win the starting job in left field. He looked good during Thursday's exhibition.

Jose Azocar is an underwhelming name to occupy the middle of the San Diego outfield. But at the moment, the 27-year-old is the best the Padres have to offer. Non-roster invitees like Oscar Mercado and Cal Mitchell will try to displace Azocar, but he has the inside track at the moment.

Finally, every single member of the Friar faithful knows who'll be lining up in right field for the Pads on Opening Day. Showing that he can more than hold his own in the outfield after winning a Gold Glove in 2023, Ferando Tatis Jr. will be patrolling those pastures at Petco Park once again when the 2024 season begins. Padres fans will want to see that same level of defense, but better production from Tatis' bat in 2024.