Southern California, or SoCal as the cool kids say. San Diego is a city home to one of the best Major League ballparks in the country. It is now home to some great ball players as well. 2017 wasn’t a year to remember for the Padres. They finished with a record of 71-91, fourth in the National League west behind the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Rockies, who all made the playoffs. The Friars have good days in the near future though. The closing weeks of the 2017 showed us a lot of what we can look forward to in 2018.
The Padres have one of the best farm systems in the majors, with their Triple A affiliate located in El Paso, Texas. The Chihuahuas have 3 division titles (2015,2016,2017), two back to back Conference titles (2016,2017), and one League title in 2016. Some players have already been called up and are playing with the Padres last season, but there is much more to come.
Hunter Renfroe is one of those players that made a name for himself the moment he got the call. Hunter played 120 games for the Padres last year, and in that time he hit 26 home runs, which was second among Padres players in 2017. He added 58 RBI, which was also among the best on the team, coming in the top 3. The power is obvious with Hunter, as he has the bat to be able to create runs for the Padres. His bating average hasn’t been high, though. In 2017 he hit just .231, so look for him to improve on that in 2018. I predict that Hunter Renfroe will lead the National League in HR in 2018.
Another El Paso Chihuahuas product that Padre fans have come a custom to is Austin Hedges. He had a good 2017 with RBI and HR, ranking in the top 5 of the team. With 115 games played behind the plate, he showed his durability. Hedges has show some flashes of offensive power with 18 home runs this season.
If you follow winter league baseball, you know that Padres fans should be excited about Franchy Cordero. A current outfielder for the Chihuahuas, Cordero had an outstanding season in El Paso, with an average of .326 and 17 HR. He also added 18 triples, 21 doubles and 15 stolen bases. Not only does he have power, he also has speed and that’s a great asset for an outfielder. Cordero did have a not so memorable 30 games with the Padres though, as he struck out 44 times in those games. Currently in the Dominican Winter League he leads in hits with 49, is third in batting average at .322, and has 9 extra base hits. Franchy would be a great addition right along side Hunter in the outfield in 2018.
Late in the season, when the Chihuahuas were knocked out by the Memphis Redbirds, a 3rd basemen by the name of Christian Villanueva got the call of his lifetime. He was given a date for his Major League debut. He was called up with 13 games left in the season, and he played in 9 of them. He ended up with 4 HR and 7 RBI. Remember this is only in 9 games. Villanueva has shown excellent poise. Before he made it to The Show, he was leading El Paso in RBI with 86. If the chance presents itself again, believe Villanueva will be ready.
My player to watch in the Padres organization this year is Diego Goris. He currently plays first base for El Paso. Though the Padres already have a solid first basemen, Diego could still be a solid option on the field. He was 4th in RBI during his time with the Chihuahuas.
One player that has been improving is Will Myers. His RBI took a hit this season but his HR numbers went up. I believe he will be one of the leaders this team needs in 2018.
The big question in San Diego is pitching, as it always comes down to what your starters can provide and how your bullpen shuts the door. This off-season, Jhoulys Chacin became a free agent and signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for a cool $15.5 million. He will be missed, as he had one of his best seasons of his career in 2017.
The projected starters for the San Diego Padres for 2018 were a combined 39-53 last season, with an average ERA of 4.65. There is still some time in the off-season, so maybe the Padres can make a splash.
The Padres have the offensive power to overshadow lackluster pitching. We won’t know how it will all shake out until the games are played, though, but at least they will always have the beautiful California.
By: Diego Sanchez