The San Diego Padres may have the need for some extra outfielders in the 2017 season.
Hunter Renfroe and Travis Jankowski will probably both start for the team, but Manuel Margot may begin the season in the minors, depending on whether or not the Padres want to start his service-time clock.
Alex Dickerson and Jabari Blash figure to be involved in the outfield competition for roster spots come spring. Each already have experience at the major league level, and both have a very good shot at the opening day roster.
Recently re-signed Jose Pirela is also someone to keep an eye on, as he has the ability to play multiple positions. Cory Spangenberg has also proven that he can play the outfield when necessary. There are options if the team wants to keep Margot down for a month. It remains to be seen what the Padres will do.
Another player to keep track of is former Angels’ outfielder, Rafael Ortega. He was recently signed by the team and the left-handed hitter has the ability to play an above-average center field. However, being a left-handed hitter doesn’t exactly make him an ideal platoon partner with Travis Jankowksi to start the season. Both would probably get eaten up by quality left-handed starters like Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner within the division.
A.J. Preller is on the lookout for quality wherever he can find it, and he is surely leaving no stone unturned. The 25-year-old Ortega is a native of Venezuela. He was signed by the Colorado Rockies at the age of 17 in 2008. He has spent time in the Rockies’, Cardinals’, and Angels’ organizations in his nine-year career and maintains a .292/.355/.405 slash line with 39 home runs and 336 RBI. He has also stole 206 bases during that time, as he has excellent speed, but has been thrown out 89 times. Word is he has the speed, but lacks the instincts and ability to be successful consistently. That is an area in which this young man has to improve.
The Padres will have plenty of fresh faces in camp when players arrive in February. Ortega provides the team with more depth at the higher minor league level and he has an outside chance at some real serious playing time with a decent spring. At the very least, he will start the season in Triple-A and be an option for the team is injuries take place in the outfield. Take a look at his numbers for yourself.
The team will be scrappy, and a lifelong minor leaguer who has a few cups of coffee in the majors might just be the type of player that manager Andy Green covets off the bench. He received 185 at bats last season while playing with the Los Angeles Angels. He put up a respectable .232/.283/.292 batting line with one home run and 16 RBI. He also stole eight bags for the Halos, while playing mostly left field for the team. A guy named Mike Trout patrols center, so Ortega only started six games at the position he most often plays.
The 2017 season will be a season of question marks. The two most obvious are how will all these young offensive players perform, and will the pitching be adequate enough to get a few wins here and there? A lot of eyes will be on the Padres’ minor league system. The development of these young players will be interesting. Some will even knock on the door of major league service time this season. The team has so many young players that the second wave of talent is scheduled to hit this year. Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, and company are the first. It’s an exciting time for Padres fans. Don’t let the doubters convince you otherwise. They, too, will awaken soon.