Spring Training is upon us. Pitchers and catchers have reported, position players are filing in, and everyone is eager to hit the grind and get ready for Opening Day. After finishing dead last in the National League West last season, the San Diego Padres aren’t expected to do much once again in 2017. That’s not to say they don’t have some exciting players to watch heading into the regular season.
Here are three guys that stand out to me, and should have a lot of eyes on them as April approaches.
1. Manuel Margot: Last year, he started the Futures game for the World team at PetCo Park. This year, he might be taking the same field, except as a member of the San Diego Padres. Their home opener isn’t until April 7th against the San Francisco Giants, but Margot will have his eyes on making the 25-man roster well before then.
The 22-year-old excelled in Triple-A last season, slashing .304/.351/.426 and stealing 30 bags in 124 games. His performance earned him a September call-up, and he went on to play ten games with the Padres. He hit .243 with a pair of steals in his first cup of coffee and showed off his game-changing speed in the outfield.
With the Padres limited outfield depth, Margot has a good chance of winning a starting job this Spring and is hands down one of the top players to watch on the Padres.
2. Wil Myers: One word can sum up Wil Myers’ 2016 season. Finally. Baseball fans have been waiting for Myers to breakout for years now, and they got their wish last season. He finished the season batting .259 with 28 homers, 94 RBI, and 28 stolen bases.
His power-speed combo was one of the best in the league and he was just one of three players to reach the 25 mark in both homers and stolen bases. The other two? None other than the two AL MVP favorites, Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. He impressively did this while playing first base, a new position for him.
After signing a six-year, $86 million deal with the Padres, all eyes will be on Myers as Opening Day gets closer. If he can stay healthy, he has the talent to be the face of the franchise for a long time.
3. Carter Capps: It’s no secret that the Padres rotation is projected to be bad. Like really bad. However, their bullpen could be a bright spot. Right-handed reliever Carter Capps is rehabbing his way back from Tommy John Surgery, and he could be an incredibly important piece of the bullpen.
He missed all of 2016, but when healthy, the herky-jerky flamethrower has the stuff to be one of the best relievers in the game. Capps owned a 16.8 K/9 and a 1.16 ERA in 31 innings for the Miami Marlins in 2015. The Padres acquired him last July, with hopes that he can come back and shut down games with his unorthodox pitching motion.
It’ll be put on display this spring, as he is expected to make his first appearance in the second week of March. If he can return to form and stay healthy, Capps could be in line for the majority of save opportunities in 2017, making him an exciting player to watch this spring.
In baseball, nothing is ever set in stone. The San Diego Padres may be projected to finish towards the bottom of their division once again, but that doesn’t mean they can’t surprise people. A new season brings new hope, and these guys could go a long way in deciding the Padres’ fate in 2017.