Alright, alright, I’ll admit it. I’m being a bit ambitious here. Urias should start the season in Triple-A as it isn’t smart to start his service clock yet. But look at the Padres’ current roster and tell me who is more likely to take over at second base if Carlos Asuaje or Cory Spangenberg go down in spring training. Only 20 years old (!!!), Urias has never struck out more than he’s walked in his professional career and has a career OBP that hovers near .400. He has a bat that plays at the major league level right now and is shooting up Top Prospect lists. Luis Urias will see major league time in 2018 and I can see a situation where he breaks camp out of spring training. Let me dream.
The rest of the names on this list aren’t super sexy, but fill needs. Stephen McGee is decent behind the dish and carries a strong track record of posting high OBP’s in the minors. He has a couple of players to leapfrog if he wants the illustrious task of backing up Austin Hedges, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that he breaks camp with the team if he has a good spring.
Shane Peterson has experience at all three outfield positions, as well as first base, and every team could benefit from the kind of versatility he brings to the table. Peterson strikes out a bit, but has strong on base numbers in the minors that detract from that a bit. The Padres outfield is crowded so he probably won’t make the opening day roster, but a strong spring could force San Diego’s hand should Travis Jankowski and Franchy Cordero falter.
Kyle Lloyd probably isn’t making the team out of the spring, but he did make his MLB debut in 2017 and has been utilized as both a starter and reliever in his minor league career. Versatility paired with strong strikeouts numbers (career 9.1 K/9) give him the edge over previously talked about arms.
Trey Wingenter, T.J. Weir, and Eric Yardley all find themselves here for different reasons. Wingenter posted a 12.1 K/9 over 49 Double-A games in 2017 and owns a career 10.5 K/9. The 23-year-old has an electric arm that could carry him to a big league role in the near future. Weir carries a similarly high career K/9 (9.7) and received a look in the Arizona Fall League, showing he is in the good graces of Padres’ brass. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Eric Yardley is a control-first pitcher (career 1.9 BB/9) who holds a 2.66 ERA across five minor league seasons. I can see a scenario where Yardley and his unorthodox delivery break camp as Padres officials have shown a soft spot for mixing up hitters’ looks when turning to the bullpen.
Not many shocked faces here, I would guess. All five of these players fill a need on the Padres’ roster right now, and as of this moment, have the best chance of landing on the Padres’ opening day roster (though the team will have to choose between the two catchers).
Tyson Ross and Chris Young will be battling for rotation spots and it isn’t difficult to see at least Ross finding a role on this team. Ross struggled mightily with the Rangers last season, but Darren Balsley has fixed him once so who knows, maybe he can do it again. The 30-year-old righty will need to stay healthy if he has his sights set on a rotation spot, and although he will always have control issues, he still has the inside track on a starting gig. Young has less of a shot at a rotation spot, but has relief experience from his time with the Royals so he could conceivably force himself into the long reliever spot if he can’t carve out a role in the rotation.
As of this moment, the Padres don’t really have anyone who can back up Freddy Galvis at shortstop, so a decent spring from Dusty Coleman could earn him a spot on the team. Coleman appeared in 27 games for the Pads in 2017 and showed good power in a small sample size (four HR’s, .722 OPS over 71 AB’s), but his bat isn’t what will earn him a roster spot so much as luck will. Javier Guerra and Allen Cordoba are the only shortstops not named Freddy Galvis on the team’s 40-man roster and both need some minor league seasoning, so Coleman seems to have the advantage here.
The same can be said for Raffy Lopez and the catcher position. A lack of superior options may allow Lopez to sneak onto the roster as Hedges’ backup behind the plate. Lopez exploded for 20 homers across Toronto’s Triple-A and Major League clubs and maintained solid on-base numbers, so it looks like he has the inside edge here over Allen and McGee. A.J. Ellis was signed this week and also has a very good chance at making the squad in April. The two will probably battle for the job unless the team finds another option.
The Padres have extended non-roster invitations to many interesting players who hope to further their careers in baseball with San Diego. It will be fun to see who separates themselves from the pack and forces themselves into the picture come opening day.