I have watched the game of baseball since I was five years old.
The love for the game that I have is something that will never leave my heart. Ever since I discovered baseball, I have loved the San Diego Padres immensely.
For the first time in a few years, it appears that this team is going to field a young, exciting team day in and day out.
They may not compete, just yet, but the eight position players playing every single night for this team are simply just going to be fun to watch.
Let’s take a look at the top five players to keep an eye out for on this young Padres’ roster.
5. Brandon Maurer, RHP
A lot of Padres’ fans are unsure whether Maurer is going to end up being in the starting rotation one day, or a back-end reliever. One thing is for sure though: this kid is electric. He’s a big kid at 6’5” 230 pounds, and his average fastball sits at about 96 mph. Maurer is 26 years old and is about to enter the prime years of his career, which for the Padres, looks like something that is going to be great. With the development of his changeup and curveball, Maurer has the ability to lock himself into the closer role for the Friars for years to come. 2017 is going to be a huge year for him development-wise, so watch for him to prove to the league that he is the real deal this upcoming season.
4. Austin Hedges, C
Although we have seen Hedges in the majors before, this upcoming season is going to be huge for him. He is coming off an incredible year at El Paso, in which he put up a .326/.353/.597 batting line with 21 home runs and 82 RBI. Hedges has struggled in the majors when he has had the chance to be there, but it appears his swing is finally coming around. He has always been excellent defensively, throwing base runners out with ease. The starting catcher’s spot on the Padres is his to lose, as there is really not much competition behind him. This kid is going to be the Padres’ franchise catcher, and an exhilarating player to watch both offensively and defensively in 2017.
3. Wil Myers, 1B
Certainly the 2016 San Diego Padres’ MVP, Myers hopes to carry the greatness he displayed last season into the 2017 season. The 26-year-old right-hander belted 28 home runs last season, drove in 94 runs, stole 28 bases, and made just three errors throughout the course of the season. He is undoubtedly the face of the franchise, and is the best player on this current roster. His numbers were down towards the end of the season, but for the majority of the season he was excellent with the bat. Myers simply put on a show in 2016, and he is a fan favorite of the Friar Faithful. Expect him to be an all-star again in 2017, as well as a 30 home run, 100+ RBI kind of player. The Padres need to make sure they extend his contract and lock him up for good, as this kid is going to be a stud for years to come.
2. Hunter Renfroe, RF
One of the brightest spots last season for the Padres was the emergence of Hunter Renfroe late in September. After struggling for a bit early on in his minor league career, the former collegiate star at Mississippi State University was the Triple-A MVP last year. When he came up to the Majors, he put on a show, hitting three home runs and driving in 13 runs in his first week with the Padres. Renfroe is a big, strong kid that is going to bat 4th or 5th for the Padres in 2017. Undoubtedly, he should be the Padres starting right fielder all year. There is potential for him to hit around 20-25+ home runs in his rookie season, and if he plays the full year, he could drive in around 80-85 runs. Going out on a limb here, I believe that Renfroe could seriously compete for the Rookie of the Year award in the National League if given the proper amount of playing time. However, all of that aside, get ready to watch Hunter Renfroe tear the ball in half, Padres fans.
1. Manuel Margot, OF
Could I have put Hunter Renfroe here at number one? Certainly. However, make no mistake, Manuel Margot is going to be the guy to watch in 2017. Offensively, he was pretty good last year in the minors (.304 batting average), and in just 37 at bats in the majors last season, he was not too bad. On the base paths? He is electric. Throughout his minor league career, Margot stole 30+ bases in five different seasons. Margot is one of the faster players in the Padres’ farm systems, and his speed is something that leads perfectly into his biggest strength: defense. I will never forget the catch off the wall he made in the Rising Stars game, it was simply amazing. The ground he covers in center field, and for the entire outfield for that matter, is incredible. I can certainly see him being a consistent gold glove center fielder throughout his career. Out of all the young talent on this Padres’ team, Manuel Margot is the most important one to watch, Padres fans.