Only Pete Alonso hit a ball harder in 2020—118.4 mph. Padres farm director Sam Geaney believes the 20-year-old Mears might have topped his viral Cactus League blast later in minor league camp.
It’s not hard to believe because Mears checks in at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds.
But the Padres believe their burly outfielder is a lot more than a one-trick pony.
“He’s really big, really strong, but he’s in really good shape,” Geaney said. “He’s a good mover. It’s not just brute-force strength. When he runs, when he gets going, it’s beautiful.”
And intriguing enough to try the natural right fielder in center late in minor league camp just to see how he looks there.
Really, the Padres haven’t seen much of Mears in game action since signing him for $1 million as a 2019 second-rounder out of high school in Federal Way, Wash.
The righthanded slugger mashed seven home runs in 43 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League after the draft but lost all of 2020 to the pandemic. He stayed in game shape on his own at home but didn’t get onto the field until late at instructional league because of a broken hamate bone.
Judging by the Cactus League homer, the injury didn’t rob Mears of any of his strength. He went 1-for-12 with 10 strikeouts as an ambitious addition to big league camp, but the Padres don’t see him as a swing-from-the-heels hitter in the future.
Mears struck out 59 times in 43 games in 2019, but he also walked 23 times and hit .313/.405/.531 over the final month of the season.
The goal now is to see if Mears can unlock his potential while jumping to Low-A Lake Elsinore.
“This is not an undisciplined, chasing hitter,” Geaney said. “He swings at the right stuff. It’s continuing to be cognizant of how his body and how his swing work together to hopefully allow for the appropriate amount of contact as he climbs the ladder.”
— Infielder Tucupita Marcano hit .405/.479/.619 in Cactus League play and made the Opening Day roster after injuries thinned the Padres’ depth. The 21-year-old went 2-for-12 with a double, an RBI and a run scored before being optioned to the alternate training site. Marcano had not played above low Low-A before finishing 2019 on in the High-A California League playoffs.