It was an innocuous 5-2 Padres win on September 21, in which San Diego dropped the Diamondbacks into sole possession of last place in the NL West. The wins don’t mean much near the close of another disappointing season, but the Padres managed to liven things up with some roster news.
Padres manager Andy Green said on @Mighty1090 Carlos Asuaje, Austin Hedges, Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe will be in Thursday's lineup.— Dennis Lin (@sdutdennislin) September 21, 2016
On Wednesday night, rookies Asuaje, Renfroe, and Margot all showed up in the Padres’ 3-2 loss to Arizona, starting three anticipated major league careers. They may have struck out (Asuaje), been intentionally walked (Renfroe), or come into the game as a pinch runner (Margot), but their appearances have meaning for the Padres all the same.
Last November, the Padres sent closer Craig Kimbrel to Boston for four pieces of the Red Sox’ hotly coveted farm system. Margot led the package, being a plus-defender with plus-speed, and slashed .304/.351/.426, stole 30 bases in 41 tries, and logged 18 OF assists with AAA El Paso this season through 124 games.
Depending on where you checked, Margot was anywhere from No. 16 to No. 39 on midseason top prospect lists across baseball. The “winners” and “losers” of the trade that brought him to SoCal will be largely determined by his performance in the near future for a(nother) rebuilding Padres squad.
Asuaje came over in the same deal with Boston and has been Margot’s teammate in El Paso this year, slashing .321/.378/.473 with 11 3B in 134 games (there’s a reason the Chihuahuas were the 2016 Pacific Coast League champions).
The 24-year-old likely has his eye on the Padres’ open second base job next year, and though he won’t hit for power due to his make-up and cavernous Petco Park, he has already shown a knack for extra bases.
Although 24-year-old catcher Hedges didn’t so much to impress anyone with a stint on the Padres last year, he tore up AAA pitching in El Paso this season as well, slugging .597 with 21 HR in 82 games. The Padres had hoped time in the minors would microwave Hedges’ offensive output, and their patience paid off, even as Derek Norris was hitting .183 for the big club.
Lastly, Renfroe was among the plethora of El Paso’s .300-hitters this season, hitting .306 with an .893 OPS in 533 AB. He outpaced Hedges in home runs with 30 for the team lead. Renfroe dueled Margot in racking up outfield assists this season as well, but fell one short of his teammate with “only” 17. This was the sort of production one might expect from the 13th overall pick of the MLB draft in 2013.
Last night’s loss to the D-backs may have appeared to be merely the 88th L of a season full of them, but with the introduction of these four prospects, San Diego is once again looking for promise in the future.