Padres Put Shortstop Depth On Display
The Padres' depth behind shortstop-of-the-future Fernando Tatis Jr. was readily apparent at the organization's annual prospect game with the Rangers on Sept. 27.
While the 19-year-old Tatis did not play in the event—his return from season-ending thumb surgery is slated for November in the Dominican League—the Padres' lineup for the showcase at Petco Park brimmed with up-the-middle talent.
Teenager Gabriel Arias started at shortstop. Fast-rising Tucupita Marcano played third base. Xavier Edwards, the 38th overall pick in the 2018 draft, slid over to second base, while third-rounder Owen Miller held down the fort at first base.
"It’s a dogfight,” said minor league field coordinator Chris Kemp, who doubles as international scouting director. "We don’t shy away from competition. We want guys competing. It’s healthy and creates winners.”
All four shortstops had winning seasons.
The 18-year-old Arias pushed through early growing pains at low Class A Fort Wayne to hit .261/.318/.412 (.730 OPS) in the second half. He put up a .570 OPS in the first half after beginning the season as the third-youngest player in the Midwest League.
The 19-year-old Marcano, who signed out of Venezuela in 2016, made his U.S. debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League and earned an in-season promotion to short-season Tri-City. He hit .366/.450/.438 in 52 games at the two stops.
The switch-hitting Edwards, a Florida prep, also played in the Arizona and Northwest leagues. A wrist injury cost him a month of the season and forced him to shelve his righthanded swing for the summer, but he still hit .346/.453/.409 in 45 games.
Miller’s pro debut was equally impressive. The Illinois State product zoomed from Tri-City to Fort Wayne and on to Double-A San Antonio for the Texas League playoffs. He hit .336/.386/.460 in 75 games, then went 9-for-35 (.257) with two doubles and a homer in the TL playoffs.
"I knew that if I stuck with my approach and kept the right mindset,” Miller said, "that I would have a chance of having success.”
The 21-year-old Miller is poised to begin 2019 at Double-A after turning in the best pro debut by a Padres draft pick this year. Wherever he lands on the field, he has a chance to make an impact.
The Padres have asked Miller to work on agility, foot speed and strength this offseason.
"He could be a first-round type of bat from what I've seen,” Kemp said. "I'm really excited by Owen Miller and where he's at right now.”
>> The Padres renamed their prospect game with the Rangers the Don Welke On Deck Classic. Welke scouted for both clubs and served as the Padres' vice president of scouting operations at the time of his death at age 75 in late September.
>> Josh Naylor started in left field in the Don Welke On Deck Classic, giving general manager A.J. Preller a close look at him at his new position. Naylor started 89 games in left field at Double-A San Antonio and 29 games at first base.
>> The Padres agreed to a two-year player development contract with Amarillo, Texas, which replaces San Antonio as the organization's Double-A affiliate in the Texas League. San Antonio will be reclassified as a Triple-A affiliate in 2019 and will be partnered with the Brewers.