My Spring Training trip to Arizona this year was cut short due to other obligations, but I did get to spend some quality time with some top prospects in the short time I was there. I missed Fernando Tatis Jr., Jazz Chisholm and Jesus Luzardo, but did manage to see Chris Paddack, Sean Murphy, Keston Hiura and Hudson Potts.
Chris Paddack (P) Padres – I was lucky and the timing worked out so I got to see him pitch in person. What can I say about this guy that hasn’t already been said? He throws hard. He strikes out a lot guys. He struck out 7 batters in 4 innings when I was there. The Sheriff, as he’s affectionately known, was initially tabbed as the Opening Day starter, but since then, that doesn’t seem to be so certain. He seems like a lock to make the rotation, but will the Padres let him make his first Major League appearance on Opening Day? We shall see, but its looks like he’s now pitching the second game of the Opening Series.
Sean Murphy (C) Athletics –The A’s were lacking a true starter at catcher when they were unable to re-sign Jonathan Lucroy in the off-season. They were able to sign veteran Chris Herrmann, but his knee injury in Spring Training further put the A’s in a hole at this position. Backup catcher Josh Phegley and recently signed Nick Hundley are going to have to carry the load until top prospect Sean Murphy is ready.
The A’s took a good look at Sean Murphy this spring and rightfully so. The kid has a cannon of an arm and isn’t too shabby at the plate either. He played in every game while I was at Spring Training whether behind the plate, at DH or as a late inning replacement (only once did he not start the game). His spring numbers weren’t great and he still could use some playing time in the minors since a mid-season broken hamate bone cut his playing time short last year. He’ll start the season at AAA Las Vegas, but he’ll be up at some point this year.
Keston Hiura (2B) Brewers – This guy can mash and I had the pleasure of watching him send one out in a hurry. The No. 30 overall prospect was named a Brewers representative at the Futures Games, a Carolina League mid-season All-Star, a MiLB Organization All-Star and the Arizona Fall League MVP. Hiura slashed .433/.452/.567 in 31 Cactus League plate appearances. He’s going to be playing second base for the Brewers for many years to come. This makes me happy.
Hudson Potts (3B) Padres – Potts made a lot of really loud outs and many balls were hit to the warning track while I was there. I have no doubt those balls will start to fall. Over the fence. Soon. He’s shown lots of pop and that gets me really excited. Potts was playing second base while I was there. He’s a big guy at 6’ 3”, and in my opinion, looks too big at second base. But what are you going to do? The Padres signed some guy named Machado which sent the infield defensive alignment into whack. The Padres also have Luis Urias who seems to have a lock on second base although he did spend some Spring Training time at SS. I just hope they find a spot in their lineup for Potts soon or trade him somewhere where he can play. He should be in a major league lineup next year.
As you can see, there are a lot of exciting young prospects on the horizon this year and next and I’m excited to watch them develop, many of whom I get to see in the California League!
Photos Of Paddack, Murphy, Hiura and Potts within article – credit Gail Verderico, @1baseballchick on Twitter