March 13th, 2016

My Spring Training Look at the San Diego Padres

The City of Peoria and Peoria Stadium got quite a work out on March 12th. There was an afternoon game here that started at 2:30 PM between the Padres and the Indians. Then, the Mariners, who share the complex with San Diego played the Dodgers in a night game. So there was very little transition time between games for the great staff.
Now, I am back in the same press box seat in Peoria today to see the Cincinnati Reds face the Mariners.

If you haven’t been to Peoria for a spring game, you’re missing a treat. There are great restaurants and watering holes within walking distance of the park. It really is a nice environment that has been created on the near west side of the Valley.

I got my first spring look at the Padres. For me, it continues to be a club in search of an identity. Bring in high priced players. Move some of those players for prospects. Move some prospects and try different ones,, and on and on. It’s like the game where you spin around a baseball bat and try to walk a straight line when the spinning ends. I think the Padres know where they want to be, they just have to stop spinning around.

Andrew Cashner started against Cleveland. I wish I knew who the real Cashner is on the mound. There are times he looks totally dominant. Everything is working. Then he quickly loses his release point and the ball sails on him. And he gets hit. Yesterday he was the good Cashner-lots of swings and misses. Few, if any hard hit balls. I do think the Padres want to move him for prospects. Maybe a scout or two in the stands yesterday saw what I saw. He can pitch when he concentrates and repeats his delivery.

I got to see Rule 5 selection Jabari Blash. Some say he will stick on the roster. While I did see some power in his frame, he looked lost on a couple of quick strikeouts at the hands of the Indians Danny Salazar. He came to the game hitting only .125. I think he has a long hill to climb if he wants to stick with the Padres. He has one homer and one RBI so far this spring. It isn’t disastrous, but it will have to get better IMO.

Wil Myers continues to amaze me. Those who have followed me for years know that I have never been a big fan of Myers approach at the plate. Here, years after I first saw him in with both the Royals and the Rays my opinion has not changed. I have grave concerns about his plate discipline, pitch recognition and his overall swing mechanics. I really think this is the year Myers has to show progress to become a dependable every day player in either the outfield or first base. He simply has to be better than a .250 hitter and smoke more than single digit home runs. Maybe that’s asking too much.

A player I am very bullish on is Travis Jankowski. I know, who? Jankowski plays a very solid center field, runs extremely well and is a real team player. He has leadership qualities and a good feel for the game. I saw him bunt twice successfully yesterday. That’s a lost art, but he can execute the play very well. I think there will be a way Jankowski finds his way to the Padres lineup before the season is over. He’s just that kind of player. He makes things happen.

A better defensive catcher than I had originally thought, Derek Norris adds a very interesting and potentially loud bat to the Padres lineup. The Padres are very solid behind the plate with Norris, Christian Bethancourt and Austin Hedges. It’s a position of strength for the club. Norris can hit. And he should continue to hit the gaps in San Diego. He had 33 doubles last year.

Speaking of Travis Jankowski, I do think his chances of playing time increase the more I watch Melvin Upton, Jr. at the plate. What happened to the guy with quick hands, great wrists and some power in his swing? He hasn’t shown up in a long time. His swing is aggressive and long and the results are very definitely meh. That’s how Jankowski gets playing time.

Alexi Amarista looks smaller than his listed 5-foot-6. I saw him standing near the 6-foot-5 Jabari Blash. Yikes!

The Indians drafted Drew Pomeranz, shipped him to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez and Pomeranz has drifted around ever since. Do you start him”? Is he a reliever? Long man? Short man? Closer? This may be the year we get some definition on Pomeranz. He looked solid yesterday on the mound. But he has to regain his rhythm and his confidence to finally fulfill his potential as a reliable left-handed pitcher, regardless of his role.

Today I get my first look at Seattle and my second look at the Reds. I’ll share my thoughts in this space tomorrow. I hope you follow all of the spring blogs I write at BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD. And thanks for that.

And by the way, thanks for following me @BerniePleskoff on twitter.

That’s it. I’m done. For now.