All season long, we’ve had an eye on four teammates, four Padres’ “Top Prospects” playing together in El Paso. With the Chihuahua’s season concluding in a 3-1 loss to the Yankees’ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate in the AAA Championships, these players are free for reassignment. Some will head to the Instructional League. Someone will go to one of the various overseas Fall Leagues. The lucky few get tabbed for a trip up to The Show. For top prospects Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Carlos Asuaje, and Austin Hedges, along with Jose Torres, Buddy Baumann, and the Padres organization, this is a big day.
Andy Green announces Jose Torres, Buddy Baumann, Hunter Renfroe, Austin Hedges, Carlos Asuaje & Manuel Margot will join the team tomorrow.— San Diego Padres (@Padres) September 21, 2016
Throughout the season, we’ve heard Hedges, Renfroe, Margot, and Asuaje’s names discussed as potential mid-season call-ups. Derek Norris’ struggles combined with Hedges’ huge season had some clamoring for a move. When Kemp and Upton were traded, it seemed imminent that Renfroe would get get the call. The decimation of middle infielders to injuries led to suggestions that Asuaje could get a shot. Jay’s injury had some wondering if Margot’s services might be called upon. For various reasons, management kept them together as a cohesive unit in El Paso. Now that they’ve won a PCL Championship, hopefully they can carry some leadership and winning attitude with them to Petco Park. In case you weren’t paying attention to these guys all year long, here’s what they’ve done this season:
- Austin Hedges: Formerly considered a glove-only elite defender, Hedges turned a corner with the bat and put up a huge season, hitting .326/.353/.597 with 21 homers in only 331 plate appearances. With exemplary game calling, framing, pitch blocking, and throwing skills behind the plate, he’ll immediately be one of the league’s best defenders, and now his bat won’t be considered a weakness in the lineup.
- Hunter Renfroe: The slugger possesses huge power and a cannon arm, profiling as an above-average rightfielder both defensively and offensively. One of three Padres to play in the All-Star Futures Game, Renfroe’s .306/.336/.557 season won him the PCL’s MVP award.
- Carlos Asuaje: A versatile infielder who can play all around the diamond, Asuaje is touted for doing everything well. He makes a lot of contact, uses his speed well on the basepaths, and is a slick and clean fielder. Also a member of the Futures Game roster, Asuaje earned the PCL’s Rookie of the Year award.
- Manuel Margot: Another elite defender, Margot might be the best centerfielder in the Padres’ organization. His speed and instincts impressed coaches last spring, and his bat spoke loudly all season. While Travis Jankowski might have an argument for the “best centerfielder” title, Margot brings more power to the plate as a more rounded overall player. In case you missed it, here’s a little thing he did at the Futures Game:
- Jose Torres: The 22-year-old reliever has had an excellent season, posting a 2.38 ERA over 48 games across the A+, AA, and AAA levels. Coming to the Padres in the Yonder Alonso / Drew Pomeranz trade, Torres could be a part of 2017’s pitching staff.
- Buddy Baumann: A journeyman lefty reliever, Baumann has seen a few trips to the MLB already. While he’s struggled in his limited MLB time, his 3.14 ERA at the AAA level was a major factor in El Paso’s big season.
While their promotions have been announced by the team, there needs to be some corresponding roster moves to clear two spots for Asuaje and Renfroe, who were not on the 40-man roster.
The season is winding down. With upcoming series against the rival Dodgers and Giants, there’s plenty of reason to cheer for our guys, but the promotion of these heralded prospects adds a whole lot of interest. So, come to a game, flip on the TV, or listen in as these talented youngsters get their first taste of Major League Baseball!
UPDATE: The Padres have designated Patrick Kivlehan and Nick Noonan for assignment. Kivlehan provided one monster 464-foot homer highlight in his brief time with the Padres, and Noonan held down the defense at shortstop while Alexei Ramirez was trying to find out where his game went.