We are now over halfway through the spring training slate, with just two weeks left until Opening Day.
Thus far, spring training has been fun to watch for Padres fans, perhaps the most fun in years, as top prospects have been in big league camp the entire time, not to mention they have played well.
I want to focus on some players who have made a splash this spring who might not be getting the same amount of coverage.
These guys could be underappreciated veteran players or prospects that could be contributors to the major league club either this season or very soon after. Spring is a time for seeing what you got down on the farm, and the Padres have had a lot to look at.
Here is a look at a pitcher and batter that have played worthy of recognition so far this spring.
Pitcher: Robert Stock
Cue the “his Stock must be rising” jokes. Stock was drafted as a catcher in the second round in 2009 by the Cardinals. He began pitching in 2012 and is now 28 years old. Usually, this is not a recipe for a major contributor, but Stock is making his mark this spring. He has touched 100 MPH on a few pitches, including getting a key strikeout to get out of a bases-loaded jam. He had a 2.98 ERA in 41 appearances between Single-A Advanced and Double-A in the Reds organization during the 2017 season. He has never pitched higher than Double-A in his five seasons as a pro pitcher.
Great job Robert Stock stops bleeding in 5-run 2nd recording 3 outs, last two Ks of Bryant & Rizzo. FB 98, off speed 82-86. Not first time he’s come in and done well. #formerhitter
— Bob Scanlan (@heyscan) March 8, 2018
Stock is not on the 40-man roster, but he has certainly made an impression. In five games, he has a 3.86 ERA with six strikeouts compared to just one walk. He has posted scoreless outings in three of his last four appearances. Padres manager Andy Green has even said he has “put himself in the mix” for a bullpen spot, which would be incredible for a 28-year-old, non-roster invitee.
Batter: Carlos Asuaje
Andy Green will have a tough decision at second base. Cory Spangenberg is making just as strong of a case as Asuaje for action. Even Jose Pirela might get in on that action too. Asuaje clearly has worked hard this offseason. He is second on the team in hits this spring with 11, and is slashing .344/.371/.594, including a home run and two triples. He also has two hits and a walk against lefties, which is what the Padres are hoping he can improve on to justify an everyday second base role.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) March 10, 2018
He hit .270 last season in 89 games last season and he looks like he has not missed a beat this spring. The second base job is up for grabs and Asuaje is putting together a good argument for his case. The question will be how well he can hold up against tough lefties and play defense every day at second. For what it’s worth, in 55 innings so far this spring, he has yet to commit an error. He has played the most at second among the candidates so far and could be well on his way to earning the Opening Day nod.