Here is a complete review of the third base position for the San Diego Padres, as they attempt to gain a competent infielder for the start of the 2019 season.
Most don’t realize, but third base has long been a position of consistency for the Padres’ organization the last few decades.
Ken Caminiti manned the hot corner from 1995-98, followed by Phil Nevin from 1999-2002, then former top prospect Sean Burroughs 2002-05, Kevin Kouzmanoff 2007-09, Chase Headley 2007-14, and finally Yangervis Solarte 2015-17. The Padres have found some success getting production out of the hot corner for quite some time.
The Friars currently face a question mark for the ’19 season and beyond. Heading into the 2018 season, the Padres had a handful of options competing for the third base job including, Chase Headley, Cory Spangenberg, Carlos Asuaje, and Christian Villanueva. Ultimately Headley was released after just 27 games, while the remaining trio was given the bulk of playing time at third base. The last month of the 2018 season, Wil Myers experimented at third base for the team. That has since ended as Myers has been moved back to a full-time outfielder. A few months into the offseason, Spangenberg was released, and Asuaje and Villanueva will now be playing next season overseas. Coming into 2019, none of the Padres’ third baseman in 2018 are on the roster.
So who will be manning the hot corner for the Friars in 2019? A committee, a free agent, a player acquired from a trade, or an internal option? The bigger question is, who will be the third baseman of the future when the Padres expect to compete? First base, second base, and shortstop are all locked down for years to come with Eric Hosmer, Luis Urias, and Fernando Tatis Jr.
Let’s look at some potential options the Padres could explore fairly soon.
Current Internal Options
France, an SDSU product drafted by the Padres in the 35th round of the 2015 draft, has exceeded expectations and had a breakout year across Double-A and Triple-A in 2018. France slashed .267/.355/.464 with 22 homers and 96 RBI. He was added to the 40-man roster and will be given a chance to compete for the third base job in spring. Garcia, acquired on waivers from the Cardinals, figures to be used more in a reserve utility role, serving as a backup across the infield. Jason Vosler, acquired from the Cubs for Rowan Wick, is a former top 30 prospect for Chicago. Vosler put up similar stats to France last season across Double-A and Triple-A for the Cubs, slashing .251/.330/.467, with 23 homers and 93 RBI. Along with those solid numbers, Vosler had 149 strikeouts over 471 at-bats.
Esteban Quiroz is an intriguing option. Quiroz has spent the last eight seasons with the Red Sox, spending the majority of his time playing in the Mexican League. The infielder has a career .287/.398/.442, with an impressive 354 walks to 389 strikeouts. Quiroz could be an option as an on-base specialist coming off the bench. Jose Pirela has spent the last two seasons on the Padres’ Major League roster, and after a breakout 2017, Pirela struggled to find his stride last season slashing .249/.300/.345 over 438 at-bats. Ian Kinsler is a potential option to fill-in at third after Tatis is called up, but he is not much of an option with only two innings at third base over his 13-year career.
Potts was drafted by the Padres in the first round of the 2016 draft. He has played tremendously in the minors producing some of the best power numbers in the Padres’ farm. Potts wasn’t expected to have much power but hit 20 home runs in 2017 with Fort Wayne as an 18-year-old, and then 19 home runs last season with Lake Elsinore and San Antonio. Potts is a guy I really like for the future, although he struggles with strikeouts. In 2017, Potts had a 140/23 K/BB but improved a bit with a 145/47 K/BB in 2018.
Ruiz is naturally a second baseman but can also play third base. He came over from the Royals in 2017. The right-handed hitter is a pure swinger with incredible speed. The Dominican infielder hit .350 across 206 at-bats in rookie ball in 2017, but took a step back in 2018 in A-ball hitting only .253 with 141 strikeouts, although he swiped 49 bases. Ruiz is an intriguing name to watch for the Friars in the future. Owen Miller, drafted just a season ago, had a phenomenal pro debut. Across Tri-City and Fort Wayne, Miller slashed .336/.386/.460 over 298 at-bats.
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