While Top Padres Prospects Come Up, Luis Urias Heads Back To Triple-A

Image credit: Luis Urias (Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO The Padres elected to carry three of their top six prospects on their Opening Day roster in shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (No. 1), catcher Francisco Mejia (No. 4) and righthander Chris Paddack (No. 6).

A fourth top prospect, somewhat surprisingly, is starting the year in the minors.

The Padres elected to send No. 3 prospect Luis Urias to Triple-A El Paso to begin the year, opting instead to bring Tatis straight up from Double-A to play shortstop and have veteran Ian Kinsler play second base.

Urias, No. 31 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list, hit just .224/.309/.429 in spring training and battled a tight hamstring. Still, he was expected to open the year in San Diego. But Tatis’ rise combined and Urias’ struggles ultimately convinced the Padres the best move—for both Urias individually and the team as a whole—was to start him in Triple-A.

“We kind of felt that as his spring training played out, he wasn’t really in rhythm offensively the way we know he can be,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “We wanted to give him some opportunity to get going, get off to a fast start, kind of find his rhythm. And honestly, at the end of the day, we felt that our best club starting lineup-wise, with a youngster at shortstop in Fernando Tatis, was to have veteran in second base at Ian Kinsler.”

Urias, 21, hit .208 in 12 games after being called up last season. He is a career .306/.397/.405 hitter in the minors with a supreme batting eye that projects to be a boon for a Padres team that finished last in the majors with a .297 on-base percentage last season.

While he didn’t make the Opening Day roster this year, Green made it clear the club’s expectations for him have not changed.

“Luis Urias is going to be a huge part of our future,” Green said. “When he gets back, it’s going to be huge for us because he can bring some really special things to us, especially offensively.”

Nick Margevicius Goes From High Class A To The Majors

The Padres have shown a willingness to move players fast under Preller, including jumping Tatis and Paddack over Triple-A straight to the majors.

But the speed at which they’ve moved lefthander Nick Margevicius trumps them all.

Margevicius, 22, spent all of the last year pitching at low Class A Fort Wayne and high Class A Lake Elsinore.

He’s now going to be the Padres’ starting pitcher Saturday against the Giants.

“At the very beginning of camp I looked at the group and said every single year somebody shocks you—somebody makes a club that if we’re writing the club today there is no way in the world they’d be there,” Green said.

“Last year it was Adam Cimber, a couple years back it was Ryan Buchter. And this year it’s Nick Margevicius. We didn’t come into camp penciling him into the rotation. We didn’t expect it, but he handled everything we threw at him very, very well.”

Margevicius went 10-8, 3.60 with 146 strikeouts and 17 walks in 135 innings at the Class A levels last year. He made one start for Double-A San Antonio in the postseason.

But with an open spot available in the Padres’ rotation, Margevicius posted a 4.50 ERA over four spring starts while higher ranked and more advanced prospects Logan Allen and Cal Quantrill struggled.

General manager A.J. Preller revealed the Padres’ area scout at the time, John Stewart, had Margevicius ranked as the No. 1 prospect in his area, well above industry consensus, and pounded the table for the Padres to draft Margevicius.

While jumping a starting pitcher from A-ball straight to the majors is certainly a bold move, Preller noted he and all the other prospects moving fast are in the majors because they earned it.

“We looked at each guy—Paddack, Mejia, Tatis, Margevicius—each guy checked the boxes we asked them to do from a development standpoint,” Preller said.

“We understand that maybe some guys will succeed here, maybe some guys are still developing, maybe some guys will have to go back to the minor leagues for more seasoning, and that’s not the end of the world. We go into it really open-minded, and we hope these guys are here for the next 10 years and contribute to winning baseball, but we understand if that’s not the case we’ll be able to react after that and adjust accordingly.”

Special Debut For Connor Joe

Connor Joe made his major league debut on Thursday, starting in left field and batting seventh for the Giants. It was extra special considering he got to make his major league debut in his hometown.

Joe, 26, was drafted out of the University of San Diego in the supplemental first round in 2014 and is a graduate of Rancho Bernardo High School, located about 25 miles northeast of Petco Park.

The Giants acquired Joe in a trade last week with the Reds, who had picked him from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 draft. Joe is one of two rookies who made the Giants Opening Day roster under Rule 5 draft restrictions along with lefthanded reliever Travis Bergen.

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