Padres

Lamet and Kim, Talent and Depth: Padres Spring Training Storylines

The Friars have a roster capable of winning the first World Series in club history.

Arizona will have the attention of Padres fans starting Wednesday, when pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Some, like reliever Dan Altavilla, have already checked into Peoria, in advance of what may be the most highly anticipated season in club history.

The massive expectations are due to what they did last year - piecing together a winner; posting the third best record in baseball; and giving fans something to celebrate in the postseason for the first time since 1998.

It's also because of what they've done since - notably, the high profile additions to their rotation in Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgrove. Fangraphs described their pitching staff as "ludicrous".

"We're talking a team that's got a chance to go win a world series."

Padres pitcher Emilio Pagan

Unlike past years, there's no question of whether they can find guys to fill innings every five days. There will be some important questions, though. Tops among them is the health of Dinelson Lamet, who missed the postseason with an elbow injury. General Manager AJ Preller told reporters on multiple occasions that the righty has looked and felt good, but with a caveat.

"Until somebody really starts taking the ball every five days," Preller said. "That's gonna be the true test."

If Lamet's ailment resurfaces Preller has insurance in the form of three young lefties: Adrian Morejon, Ryan Weathers, and MacKenzie Gore. If injuries arise, opportunity will follow. If the current rotation - Chris Paddack included - stays healthy, the youngsters could get reps in the bullpen or more time to develop elsewhere.

Pitchers will get a ton of attention, but MLB Padres reporter AJ Cassavell plans to seek out one player in particular when full squad workouts begin on Monday.

"I want to see Ha-Seong Kim," Cassavell said on the On Friar podcast. "No one has seen anything of him in the United States yet, so I think that's probably one of the more interesting storylines."

It's not just a question of how the 25-year-old Korean infielder looks, but where he plays. How the Padres utilize his versatility along with Jake Cronenworth - who seemed to emerge as a long term answer at second base, and Jurickson Profar - another guy they can move around the field.

That subplot underscores a refreshing theme around the Friars. The questions facing Tingler and the club this year aren't so much about who can play, as they are about who gets to play.

Not only do the Padres have elite talent in the form of players like Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Snell and Darvish - they have lots of depth as well. That's part of the reason why the playoff odds released Tuesday by Fangraphs, gives the Padres a 92.8 percent chance of making the postseason, and an 11.8 percent chance of doing something the franchise has never done before.

"We're talking a team that's got a chance to go win a World Series," reliever Emilio Pagan told the On Friar podcast. "It's super exciting to be a part of, looking forward to getting going."

LISTEN: With NBC 7 San Diego's Darnay Tripp and Derek Togerson behind the mic, On Friar will cover all things San Diego Padres. Interviews, analysis, behind the scenes...the ups, downs, and everything in between. Tap here to find On Friar wherever you listen to podcasts. 

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