In order to determine the value of a major league-caliber prospect, he needs consistent at-bats against top-notch pitching.
Some scouts say it takes 400-600 at bats before a proper determination can be made about a player’s abilities at the grandest level.
At this point, the Padres are filled with developing, young players. They have secured a decent future for the franchise, but it is at the point where time is necessary for the next step in growth for this team. Andy Green and his staff need to witness these young players in game situations.
There are several players that need consistent playing time in 2018 and they need it at the major league level. Triple-A at-bats mean nothing at this point for these men.
Here is a look at some players who really need to see a ton of at bats in this 2018 season:
There is nothing more to see from Cordero at the minor league level. He has proven his abilities there. The man can hit. Already in just a few games this 2018 season, he has the highest velocity rate off the bat of any Padre player. If Cordero can remain patient, he has tremendous upside. There is only one way to known if he can grasp the idea of patience and growth, and that is with constant playing time. When Manuel Margot returns in a week or so, it will be interesting to see how the playing time is divided in the outfield moving forward.
A surprise addition to the Padres’ future plans is this young man. He got everyone’s attention with his three-homer performance against the Rockies in the first week of the season, but he has cooled off dramatically since. Villanueva is a power hitter, so the inconsistencies will be part of his game. The team would like to see him shorten up with two strikes and not be too pull happy. He needs at-bats at the major league level to determine if he can adjust. This will be a big year for this young man.
2018 is probably the last chance for Renfroe to establish himself in the Padres’ plans. He wears out left-handed pitchers and could be a platoon-type outfielder in his future, but there is still the thought process that he can possibly adjust and be a viable major leaguer. Renfroe does not walk and gets himself in bad hitting situations constantly. If he can develop some kind of patience, he could blossom, but that is a huge if. Again though, he needs at-bats to know. Wil Myers will return soon and Renfroe could see a lot of time on the bench.
Andy Green really likes the way Asuaje plays the game as he provides a spark in the clubhouse and is prepared each and every day to play the game. Asuaje is scrappy, but the second base position is going to go to Luis Urias eventually. Asuaje can also play third, but there is not much of an opportunity there. He needs at-bats, but with Urias lurking, those at-bats could be limited towards the end of the year. He should get the lion’s share of playing time at second now, but the team has plenty of options at the position. You still want to be sure, if you are the Padres, that Asuaje is given a long look as a starter before possibly giving up on him.
A former first round selection by the Padres, Spangenberg also needs to establish himself in 2018. He has great flexibility as he can play second, third, and all the outfield positions. Urias is lurking at second, and there are questions about whether or not Spangenberg can hold onto the position at third moving forward. Villanueva factors here, and so does the guy who is taking away playing time from all of them, Jose Pirela. Spangenberg should get plenty of at-bats this year as the team makes a decision on what to do with him in the future.
Widely regarded as the team’s most consistent hitter since last year, Pirela directly blocks all of the above players. He is a corner outfielder and second baseman and should be in the lineup every single day. So far in the 2018 season, Pirela has not hit lower than fourth in the lineup. It is a difficult situation for the team as Pirela needs to play, but the youth does as well. There will be constant shuffling of the lineup all year long as the team determines each player’s value moving forward. Pirela will play as long as he hits, and at this point, he should not slow down with the bat. In the end, Pirela is probably trade bait for the Friars.
The Padres have a great problem in that they have many players who deserve a look. Finding time for them all to be properly gauged in terms of value is a lot to ask. The problem gets exacerbated when you factor the youth in the minors that is developing and on its way. But all this is a good thing. Competitive teams have issues like this. The goal for the Padres will be to give each young player enough playing time to properly assess their value. Good luck, Andy Green. You are going to need it.