The Padres have about two weeks left before they open the season against the Milwaukee Brewers. Right now there are significant playing time battles going on in the infield (2B, 3B, UT), outfield (LF, 4th OF), starting rotation, and bullpen.
In the last volume, we looked at five Padres who were making waves in the cactus league: two prospects (Luis Urias, Fernando Tatis Jr.), one guaranteed starter (Austin Hedges) and two guys competing for roster spots (Christian Villanueva and Franchy Cordero).
This time around, I made the cut off for consideration 20 PA or 4 IP. That qualified 20 hitters and 21 pitchers. Additionally, I weighed K% and BB%--for batters--and K/9 and BB/9--for pitchers--pretty heavily as Fangraphs considers these stats meaningful in terms of predicting regular season play. That eliminated guys like Cory Spangenberg (6.7 BB%), Wil Myers ( 3.2 BB%), and prevented Cordero (32 K%) from re-appearing on this list. On another note, let's celebrate that the Padres current lead the majors (Spring Training, obviously) in walks (81), and are fifth in OBP (.353). That's really encouraging for a team that has a .299 OBP since 2016.
Chris Young (RHP)
The 6'10", 38 year-old right hander has been impressive for the quantity, the quality and the competition. He's struggled the last two seasons with a 6.55 ERA in 118.2 IP, but he has a chance to turn a non-roster invite into a spot on the active roster.
Joey Lucchesi (LHP)
Statistically, Lucchesi has been the most impressive of the Padres' trio of starting pitching prospects from the 2016 draft. In 181 professional innings, the 24 year-old has 204 strike outs, 36 walks, a 1.99 ERA and a .934 WHIP. He's not on the current 40-man roster.
Adam Cimber (RHP)
The 27 year old has been with the Padres since he was drafted in the 9th round of the 2013 draft. After dominating AA, he struggled in limited innings in AAA in 2015 and 2016. Last year, he put it together at El Paso striking out 58, walking only eight, and posting a .912 WHIP in 80.2 innings. He's not on the current 40-man roster, and he'll be eligible for the Rule 5 draft following the 2018 season.
Jonathan Aro (RHP)
At 27 years old, Aro is playing for his 3rd organization after reaching the majors briefly with both the Red Sox (2015, 10.1 IP) and Mariners (2016, 0.2 IP). Last April, he received a 50-Game suspension for violating the minor league drug policy. His career line in AAA is impressive: 130.2 IP, 8.7 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.026 WHIP. He is one of the many non-roster invitees vying for a spot in the pen.
Robert Stock (RHP)
The Padres are Stock's fourth organization since being drafted by the Cardinals as a catcher in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft. The 28 year old converted to pitching in 2012, and has worked exclusively as a relief pitcher. He can touch 100 mph and is pitching himself into contention for the Padres' 2018 bullpen. He is a non-roster invitee.
Tyson Ross (RHP)
The 6'6", 30 year old former All Star is trying to reclaim a career that began unraveling on Opening Day 2016. After a 5.2 inning appearance, Ross spent the rest of the season on the D.L. registering only 0.2 innings for the High-A Lake Elsinore Storm. In October he was finally diagnosed with, and underwent surgery for, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. So far, he has done everything the Padres have asked, and looks to have a good chance at cracking the starting rotation. He is a non-roster invitee.
Jose Pirela (OF/2B)
The Padres' best hitter in 2017 continues to impress. He leads the Padres in walks (6), hits (13), and is second in runs (7) and extra base hits (6). The strikeouts are a little high at 23.5%, but it's obvious that the Padres are going to find a way to get the 28 year old into the lineup.
Travis Jankowski (OF)
The 26 year old is trying to prove that his speed, defense, and approach at the plate deserve another chance to stick in the Padres' outfield. He impressed in 2016, but missed most of 2017 to injury. Jankowski showed surprising power this week, hitting three bombs. Most impressively is that two came against LHP, or, one more than he had against southpaws in his entire big league career to this point.
Villanueva stays on this list, even after an uninspiring week, for the simple fact that his cumulative Spring has been impressive. He leads the team in RBI (11), walks (6), and is third in total bases (21). Right now, the 26 year old seems like a good bet to make the 25-man roster as a utility infielder, having appeared in games at both third and first, and getting practice reps at shortstop. He is currently on the 40-man roster, but is out of options.
Hedges has cooled off significantly since he started the spring with four dingers in his first four games. But, his numbers still beg inclusion. This is not the first time that Hedges has gone off in Peoria. In 2016, he had a 1.117 OPS with 2 HR...In 2017, he had a .865 OPS. The difference this year is the walk rate. He drew one walk in 76 Spring Training plate appearances over the last two years. Consider that he's already drawn five in 24 PA, and you have a right to believe that Hedges has an improved approach at the dish that could pay huge dividends this summer.
Some additional BB% / K% Heroes:
A.J. Ellis (C)
Chase Headley (3B)
Raffy Lopez (C)
All stats are cumulative for the spring. I thought about going off of this last week specifically, but decided that there is more to be gained from getting the largest sample size possible and being able to use Baseball Reference's Opponents Quality measurement.