Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
Most people I know that grew up in America have played some sort of ball - either baseball or softball - and most have some notion as to how the game is played. So far as baseball, so very few are talented enough to make some sort of a living at it, at playing the game while getting a check of any size for their efforts. In North America, over 6,000 men get paid to play ball. Only 750 of them play in the Major Leagues when the show starts.
In spring training and in exhibition games, you get to see a lot of talent; not only players that are already on the 25-man roster, but prospects that will still be in the minor leagues when the regular season begins. The job of the managers and coaches and other evaluators is to sort through the talent so that each player is assigned to a level where the player will get the most development. Every player wants to make the big club. It's a matter of fact that most will not.
The Padres are loaded with talent that will not make the big club. The farm system is in the best shape it has been in decades. They now have more depth at catcher than any MLB franchise, and likely in pitching as well. In the field, they are set at first base and third base, and center field is stocked. Corner outfield spots are coming along nicely, and there is adequate depth at second base. Like most clubs, the Padres could use more prospects at short stop.
But overall, the future appears very bright.
Manager Bud Black isn't likely to set the 25-man roster until Wednesday, the day before the Padres open against the Dodgers at Petco Park. Most of the decisions are made - were made even before spring training - except for a few spots. There is still the question of whether Andy Parrino or Everth Cabrera will be the back-up infielder. Kyle Blanks is still competing with Jeremy Hermida for a spot in the outfield. A couple of pitching spots are still up in the air.
These battles are interesting to have watched, but mostly, we got a good idea about the prospects that will remain prospects for at least a short while. There are a lot of good prospects that impressed during spring training. They are talented. And many are certain to one day be a part of the 750 club.
Look for pitcher Joe Wieland to be up with the big club the first time a starter goes down with an injury. Wieland commands enough types of pitches and can spot them well enough to be effective in the big leagues. Casey Kelly could likely use another entire season in the minors, but he was so impressive in spring it would be no surprise to see him up sooner. Continuing to develop a third pitch would make Kelly a sure thing to begin the 2013 season with the big club.
Third baseman Jedd Gyorko will likely get a full season at AAA, but if Chase Headley gets dinged then it isn't entirely out of the question to see Gyorko at some point. Whether it's Parrino or Cabrera that begins in AAA, either could spot for second baseman Orlando Hudson or shortstop Jason Bartlett. Yasmani Grandal could fill in at catcher right now if needed. Jaff Decker looks like he's close enough to fill in for an outfield spot.
Knowing that all of that talent is there, close enough to ready, likely helps Padres manager Buddy Black sleep a little better at night.
Another Cactus League game, another slug-fest. The Padres beat the Cubs in Peoria on Thursday, 12-11. In Cactus League play the Padres record stands at 18 wins and 12 losses, which ties them for first place with the St. Louis Cardinals. Not that it matters much, but it's better to have a winning record in spring training than a losing one.
Starting pitcher Clayton Richard did not have a good outing, and neither did his relief, Ernesto Frieri. Richard went 4 1/3 innings giving up 9 runs (8 earned, including 2 home runs) on 12 hits, a wild pitch, and a walk while striking out two Cubs batters. Frieri relieved Richard and pitched 1 2/3 innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks. Joe Thatcher, Luke Gregerson, and Brad Brach each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.
Padres bats remain on fire. Jason Bartlett went 2 for 3 with three runs batted in and hit his first home run of spring. Jesus Guzman had a pinch-hit home run, his third, and Matt Clark went 2 for 2 and also hit his 3rd home run in the Cactus League, along with a double. Clark, a first baseman, has had a great spring, currently batting .425 in Cactus League play.
Nick Hundley was 2 for 3 with a double and Chris Denorfia also doubled going 1 for 3. Mark Kotsay was 2 for 4 while Jaff Decker went 2 for 2. Hits by Will Venable, Kyle Blanks, James Darnell, Johnathan Galvez, and starter Clayton Richard rounded out the Padres 17-hit attack.
Orlando Hudson did not play today, he is down with an unspecified illness and is hopeful to play on Friday. Jonathan Galvez turned an ankle in Thursday's game, but it's a minor injury and Galvez was sent back to minor league camp after an impressive spring with the bat. Kyle Blanks and Luke Gregerson have obviously recovered to the point where they played on Thursday and no setbacks were apparent. Jeff Suppan continues to test his tricep injury throwing long-toss daily.
Friday, the Padres will stay in Peoria and host the San Francisco Giants in a night game. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM and Dustin Moseley is scheduled to get the start against Barry Zito. That game can be heard on radio AM 1700.