Following the official end of the minor league season Tuesday night when Scranton-Wilkes/Barre beat El Paso for the Triple-A National Championship, El Paso’s parent club called up several of the team’s best prospects.
Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe, Carlos Asuaje and Manuel Margot got the call by the Padres. Margot and Asuaje were part of an infusion of talent to the organization since last November. Both were acquired—along with shortstop Javier Guerra and lefthander Logan Allen—from Boston for Craig Kimbrel.
Since then, the Padres have also made international splashes with the signings of Cubans Adrian Morejon and Jorge Ona, as well as eight of the top 50 July 2-eligible players.
Margot was rated the Padres’ No. 2 prospect entering the season, just behind Guerra. In fact, in a testament to how shallow the talent in the organization was at the time, all four players acquired for Kimbrel ranked in the top 13 entering the season.
Scouts rated the 5-foot-11 Dominican as a five-tool player and a plus defender, but evaluators who saw him this season say his defense might have been initially overstated. His throwing and footwork especially needed work, but he improved both to the point he ended up leading the Pacific Coast League in assists. He has the speed and range to play center field long-term, but his jumps and reads continue to need refinement.
On offense, Margot’s strong wrists create plus bat speed, and he handles the bat well enough to make plenty of contact. He whiffed just 64 times in 547 plate appearances and was among the PCL leaders in plate appearances-to-strikeout ratio. He projects to have average power, which would play well in center field. He’s an above average runner and smart on the basepaths, with 30 steals in 41 tries this season.
WHAT TO EXPECT
It’s as good a time as any to figure out where Margot fits in the Padres’ plans for next season. Travis Jankowski is a better defender in center field, but lacks Margot’s offensive tools and profiles better as a fourth outfielder.
Margot should start some, if not most, of the Padres’ final 11 games as San Diego tries to determine whether its outfield in 2017 will include Margot and Hunter Renfroe.