AJ Preller and the San Diego Padres released their 25-man roster over the weekend as Spring Training came to a close. San Diego has had a handful of role players come alive in the preseason, and still had plenty of question marks with the starting rotation. With Opening Day here, let’s breakdown first-year manager Andy Green’s roster.
According to the San Diego Padres Official Website, the starting rotation in this order is set to be Tyson Ross, James Shields, Andrew Cashner, Drew Pomeranz, and Colin Rea. The top 3 slots in the rotation were pretty much set in stone, however the 4-5 spots were a bit of an unknown for most. Robbie Erlin was said to be battling Colin Rea for the final spot and Drew Pomeranz was not necessarily a lock either. All 3 pitchers have minimal Major League experience. Erlin was optioned to Triple-A, but keep an eye on him throughout the season.
Another starter to keep an eye on is Brandon Morrow. He played well in the beginning of 2015, but has still not fully recovered from a few different injuries. Look out for Morrow to make some starts further into the season.
In the bullpen Fernando Rodney officially won the 9th-inning closer’s role. When the Padres signed him to a 1-year contract in the offseason (after both trades of Kimbrel and Benoit), there seemed to be little doubt Rodney would win the job. After an experiment at starter, Brandon Maurer was moved back to the bullpen where he thrived last year. Reliever Kevin Quackenbush is another notable that starts the year on the active roster.
Changing gears towards the everyday players, the infielders in San Diego appear as expected. Despite trade rumors, Derek Norris will start the season behind the plate. Wil Myers was officially moved to 1st base as we all know, hoping the position change will help his ailing wrist issues.
Cory Spangenberg will get the nod at 2nd base, proving himself as a spark plug, energy player in 2015. Spangenberg was a big reason Jedd Gyorko was expendable in the offseason. Alexei Ramirez gets the start at shortstop as expected, and Yangervis Solarte does not get his position stolen by a Padres-Red Sox Shields-for-Pablo Sandoval trade.
AJ Preller and Andy Green decided to send Austen Hedges back down to Triple-A in favor of keeping Christian Bethancourt on the roster as Derek Norris’ backup. No surprise here as it is thought to be best for Hedges so he can get every day at-bats and continue to develop from the offensive side of the plate. Utility player Adam Rosales beat out two other infielders in veteran Alexi Amarista aka “Little Ninja,” and the young Jemile Weeks. It could be argued that Alexi Amarista should have long been in the minors, however Jemile Weeks played very well in Spring Training. Rosales extreme versatility is a primary reason he made the roster.
Lastly, in the outfield there were not a lot of surprises either. We can all agree Matt Kemp was going to get the start at Right Field unless AJ Preller was able to concoct another big trade. Jon Jay was acquired in a trade in the offseason, and he seems to be a prototypical Center Fielder. It appears Jon Jay will also be the lead-off hitter in the batting order. Jay’s offensive game is surrounded around contact hitting and getting on base, so this seems to be a great fit for him. Melvin Upton Jr. assumes the start at Left Field, with a promising Travis Jankowski coming off the bench. The Padres are paying quite a hefty fee to employ Upton, so they have to be hoping for a positive season.
The Padres have gotten very little attention this offseason, quite the turnaround from last year. Lower expectations may be better for a young small market team. Much have San Diego pegged for 4th place in the division. If everything goes right and there young players and others with higher expectations can play well, this team can make run. At the very same time, they can easily be in a rebuilding year looking to the future.