Chris Denorfia and
- Andrew Cashner and
- Tyson Ross
- Everth Cabrera
- Jedd Gyorko
- Nick Vincent
Denorfia and Venable just belong together. To start the season they were seen as a viable right field platoon partnership (Venorfia or Denable, if you will), but by the end they were both afford the same opportunity of extended playing time due to injuries at the other outfield spots. Both excelled and had career years. Both are under contract for 2014 and will look to match their efforts even though it appears as though their playing time will be cut back with the return of Cameron Maybin.
Cashner and Ross both seemed to find their feet as major league starting pitchers at the same time. Ross started off in the rotation early, but only showed glimmers of promise and then got hurt. Cashner started off as a long reliever who looked okay in that role, but nothing special. Eventually Cashner was pushed into the rotation and immediately starting seeing success. He initially ditched his hard throwing, high strikeout ways, but as the season wore one he got more whiffs and began to look like the pitcher than many thought he could become. After his injury Ross went to the bullpen for fear that swinging a bat could aggravate his injury and did very well. However, he was stretched in the minors around the All Star break and made a victorious return in late July blowing away hitters left and right (85 Ks in 80 IP after returning to the rotation). Both secured top spots in the rotation for 2014 and expectations will be sky high.
Cabrera appears in both the "what went wrong" and "what went right" pieces. His PED suspension was an extreme disappointment, but it does not completely overshadow what he did in 2013. He was all star and looked like a sure fire candidate to be the team's Most Valuable Player. His defensive game tightened up as he committed far fewer errors. His hitting was better across the board, he got on base more, struck out less, had a bit more power and still kept stealing bases at a nice clip. He's still only 26 years old and his best years may still be ahead of him. He's also not due to hit free agency until 2017, so there's plenty of time for him to continue to shine in San Diego.
The last few years have produced very little hitting talent from the Padres minor leagues. Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal were rookies last year who made impressions, but both came over from the Reds in the Latos deal. Chase Headley, Nick Hundley, Will Venable and Kyle Blanks all had their rookie seasons in either 2008 or 2009. So seeing Jedd Gyorko lead the team in home runs as a rookie was a nice reminder that the farm system can actually produce some players that will help this club win games. In addition to his slugging Gyorko proved to be a pleasant surprise on defense. The advance scouting reports on him told most of the fanbase that he would be a liability as a defender, but the opposite appeared to be true as he looked to be an asset afield. The especially nice thing about seeing a rookie produce is that you get to enjoy his time with the Padres for much longer than those who are traded for or are late bloomers. Gyorko is under team control through the 2018 season.
The Padres slowly worked Vincent in and increased his role as the season went on. He actually already looked to have promise in 2012 when he put up a 1.71 ERA and struck out more than a batter an inning. This year he began the season in Tucson and made his way to San Diego in late May. He mopped up games and provided some long relief at times, but in august he looked to have wrested a set up man role from Dale Thayer. He got 7 Holds from August on and had 1.52 ERA looking quite comfortable with that job. The San Diego local from Ramona looks to hold on to that role in 2014 and is a great candidate if you are looking for a personal favorite in the bullpen.