Injury Truncates Breakout Season From Jorge Ona
Jorge Oña walked three times in his Double-A Amarillo debut in April. He homered in his first home game, as did so many Texas League hitters at the Sod Poodles’ friendly confines.
Through 25 games, Oña had hit .348/.417/.539 with five homers when an achy throwing shoulder compelled the 22-year-old Cuban to drag himself to manager Phillip Wellman's office.
An inability to truly throw the ball from left field had, in Oña’s mind, had cost Amarillo a game, and the issue had lingered for some time.
It was time to get the shoulder fixed for good via season-ending labrum surgery.
"I know he can hit. I saw enough of that in one month," Wellman said. "I want to see him run the bases more. I want to see him play defense and really throw.”
The Padres, too, want to see more from the 23-year-old righthanded hitter.
After all, they have an 872 at-bat sample on Oña, a $7 million investment when he signed as part of the Padres' $80 million spending spree on the 2016-17 international free agent class.
As such, Oña was the lone addition to the Padres’ 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 draft. He was expected to be healthy for spring training, which will be his first in big league camp.
The other prominent names who signed in that same 2016-17 class—fellow Cubans Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez—were called up to the big league pitching staff as Oña contended with injuries for a third straight year.
He was limited to 107 games at low Class A Fort Wayne in 2017 and then 100 games at high Class A Lake Elsinore in 2018.
Oña had never hit more than 11 homers in any season before a strong start to 2019. His walk rate also ticked up to a career high 11 percent.
"He commanded the strike zone well,” Wellman said. "He was having success because he wasn’t chasing. He stayed in the zone. He didn’t budge. He didn’t flinch. He was looking for a pitch in a certain spot. If it wasn’t there, he didn’t swing.”
— Among the notables not protected from the Rule 5 draft was outfielder Buddy Reed, a Futures Game selection in 2018. The 2016 second-rounder has a .213/.284/.339 career batting line in 164 Double-A games.
— The Padres signed 16-year-old Mexican lefthander Zayed Salinas in November for $800,000. San Diego plans to give him an early look as a potential two-way prospect.