CJ Abrams Shows Off Improved Power
Shortstop CJ Abrams began his pro career with a 20-game hitting streak after the Padres selected him sixth overall from Blessed Trinity High in Roswell, Ga., in 2019.
He jumped from the Rookie-level Arizona League to Low-A Fort Wayne by season’s end, only to have a shoulder injury halt his season. The coronavirus pandemic further slowed Abrams' fast track in 2020—but not the Padres’ ambition.
He spent all summer at the alternate training site and much of the spring in the Cactus League. And he won't turn 21 until October.
“I don’t even think about it,” the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Abrams said this spring. “I just go out there and see the ball, hit the ball, make the plays in the field. It’s not much of a transition in my head.”
Or in most everyone’s heads.
In 50 at-bats this spring he hit .240/.283/.420 with two homers, 11 RBIs and was 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts. The latter is somewhat predictable given Abrams’ top-of-the chart speed, but his power has turned more than a few heads as both home runs were opposite-field shots for the lefthanded hitter.
“He’s got some juice,” Padres general manager A.J. Preller said after Abrams’ first homer of the spring sailed over the wall on a line to left-center field.
Abrams began showing off his power potential while hitting three homers and penning a .401/.442/.662 batting line as the Arizona League MVP in 2019. It continued to be an eye-opening trait as he worked out at the alternate site last summer, but his elite bat-to-ball skills and speed remain Abrams’ carrying tools regardless of where he ends up on the diamond.
For now, even with Fernando Tatis Jr. locked up for the next 14 years, the Padres see Abrams as a shortstop. He also has spent time at second base in spring training games and was expected to bounce out to the outfield on occasion to further develop his baseball IQ.
But he’ll be a shortstop when he resumes his climb up the minor league ladder in May.
At his rate of development, it may be a quick climb.
— Neither Abrams nor third baseman/second baseman Tucupita Marcano were among the Padres’ initial cuts from big league camp. Added to the 40-man roster over the offseason, the 21-year-old Marcano actually made the Opening Day roster, thanks in part to an injury to Trent Grisham.
— Outfielder Robert Hassell, the team's first-rounder in 2020, was 3-for-23 in Cactus League games.
— Righthander Jacob Nix, a 2015 third-rounder who had not appeared in the majors since 2018, had Tommy John surgery after showing promising stuff in the weeks leading into spring training.