With football season officially over, the focus now turns to baseball and the fact that Spring Training starts on Feb. 14.
Spring Training gives fans the chance to see how their favorite players have improved during the offseason as well as gives them a first look at top prospects, who are trying to battle for a roster spot.
Watching top prospects is especially exciting for Padres fans, because the organization’s focus is clearly on the young talent they have in their farm system.
During FanFest at Petco Park, Padres manager Andy Green announced that there were eight prospects expected to participate in Padres Spring Training, six of which were recently listed in Baseball America’s new Top 100.
Fernando Tatis Jr.
The most anticipated invitee is Fernando Tatis Jr.
He is arguably the Padres’ top positional prospect and will be the youngest player in the big league camp at only 19 years old.
The infielder has spent two seasons in the minors, hitting .276 with 26 home runs, 100 RBIs and 147 stolen bases, according to milb.com. It is likely that Tatis is the Padres’ shortstop of the future, so Spring Training is the perfect chance for him to prove that he can play with Padres big-leaguers like Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe.
Luis Urias is another Padres prospect who received an invite to the big league camp. Urias is easily the second-best prospect under Tatis Jr. and is likely to become the Padres’ second baseman in the near future. If he performs well in Spring Training, there is a chance he could solidify his spot in the majors for the 2018 season.
Urias has spent four seasons in the minor leagues and according to milb.com, is hitting .310 with 124 RBIs, nine home runs and 33 stolen bases. This infielder does not offer the same explosiveness as Tatis Jr., but he is a consistent hitter with the ability to get on base.
Josh Naylor is a first baseman who has hit .277 with 23 home runs and 155 RBIs during his 261 games in the minor leagues, per baseball-reference.com
Naylor is power hitter who is known for hitting home runs, however his ability to get on base has improved. The Padres will be looking at Naylor to see if he can hit against major league pitching during this spring training season.
Cal Quantrill has also been invited to pitch against the big leaguers during spring training.
Quantrill was taken in the first round of the 2016 draft and has since pitched in 34 minor league games. During that time, he has pitched to a 7-15 record with a 4.12 ERA per milb.com.
The right-hander has an arsenal of pitches, including a changeup and a fastball that hits the mid 90s.
Joey Lucchesi is a left-handed pitcher who spent last season with the Lake Elsinore Storm. He has appeared in over 39 minor league games and has pitched to an 11-9 record with only a 1.99 ERA, per milb.com.
Lucchesi has three highly usable pitches in his arsenal, including a breaking ball and a curveball.
Eric Lauer is another pitcher who the Padres see real potential in.
He has played over four seasons in the minor leagues and appeared in 32 games, pitching to a 7-9 record with a 3.05 ERA, according to baseball-reference.com.
Although his is not flashy like Quantrill, Lauer has continued to improve each season which is why he has received a big-league invite.
According to milb.com, right-hander Jacob Nix has appeared in 49 minor league games and has pitched to an 8-14 record with a 4.39 ERA.
Unlike Lucchesi and Lauer, Nix’s fastball reaches the upper 90s and he has a curveball and changeup to go along with that.
All three of these pitchers will potentially be competing against each other to see who can take the spot as the number three pitcher in the Padres rotation.
Trey Wingenter is the only invitee that is not on a “prospect to watch” list. However, he has to have some potential in order for the Padres to invite him to spring training.
The right-hander has spent 100 games in the minors and spent last season with the San Antonio Missions. Over that time, he has pitched to a 6-4 record with a 2.82 ERA, according to baseball-reference.com.
Wingenter is a relief pitcher, so his chances of making the Opening Day roster are much higher than those of the SP invitees.