We're a week away from Opening Day at Petco Park and the Padres have a bunch of decisions to make about who's going to make the roster.
So, let's have a little fun and try to guess which 30 guys will be in the dugout (and the bullpen, and the seats) when the Friars open their 60-game schedule at Petco Park against the Diamondbacks.
First, the players who know for sure no doubt without question (barring injury or coronavirus) are on this team:
Left-hander Jose Castillo would be on this list if he hadn’t recently suffered an injury so I’m thinking his spot will go to someone else that we’ll get to in a minute.
Fernando Tatis Jr.
That's 22 players, giving us eight more spots. A lot is going to hinge on how many arms the're going to keep. My gut tells me it'll be 15, which means we have three spots left on the staff and five more on the roster. But first let's talk about the catchers.
I'm honestly not sure if they'll hold on to three backstops since their taxi squad on the road must include one and they'll have guys ready to launch on Alert 5 from USD during home series. The closest to making it would be Luis Torrens. The surprise would be Luis Campusano. He's the reigning California League MVP who's the best 2-way catcher in San Diego's system and one of the top prospects in baseball. However, jumping right from advanced-A ball to the Majors is asking a lot of a position player.
Now we're talking about five roster pieces spread between the infield and outfield. I see it going down like this:
France and Naylor can both hit but play corner spots (France infield, Naylor outfield) and those positions are fairly well represented by veterans. However, their bats make for a potential righty-lefty DH platoon that's intriguing.
Olivares was wowing people before the Cactus League had to shut down and hasn't stopped during Summer Camp. Trammell I have on here for two reasons. One is he's been doing everything well during his first MLB training camps and just LOOKS like a big league ballplayer. Two is the recently-acquired Jorge Mateo has missed more than a week in quarantine after a positive COVID-19 test. If he's out too much longer he might not be ready for the season's start.
Cronenworth is the Swiss Army Knife of this group. He's a good defensive shortstop who's hit well in the minor leagues ... and a good relief option with a fastball in the 90's. Cronenworth can be used any way the Padres want to use him in the shortened season so I think they'll tinker with how to utilize him best how before having to designate him as an infielder or pitcher moving forward. And that brings us to ...
The last three pitchers. For that we have a couple of Cubans and baseball's best pitching prospect:
I really wanted to put Luis Patino on this list but I think he'll make his big league debut some time in the middle of the year.
As a 20-year-old in the Majors in 2019 Morejon flashed the kind of stuff that made the Padres give him an $11 million signing bonus. He's looked good in Summer Camp, too, so he'll likely be in the bullpen. Baez also had moments of dominance as a rookie last year. If he doesn't make the roster then converted shortstop Javy Guerra will.
Finally, the kid.
Gore is the reigning Minor League Pitcher of the Year after laying waste to the California League then helping Amarillo win the Texas League Championship after a mid-season promotion. The 21-year-old needs to be pitching against high-level competition to keep his development on track and without the option of time in Triple-A it makes sense to keep him on the roster and get him innings out of the bullpen with the Padres over 60 games.
On this week's OnFriar Podcast, Darnay Tripp and I talked with Padres broadcaster Bob Scanlan about what the roster may look like. Give it a listen here.