The 2013 San Diego Padres will have a young core of good players at the infield and the catcher position once Yasmani Grandal returns from a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball‘s drug agreement. Let us take a look at the Padres 2013 edition around the diamond.
Yonder Alonso was acquired by the Padres as part of the trade that sent starting pitcher Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds in the 2011 offseason. Alonso gained valuable experience as a rookie, playing in 155 games while hitting .273 with nine home runs and 62 RBIs.
This spring, Alonso hit only .232, but did have five home runs while striking out 16 times in 69 at bats. For 2013, the Padres aren’t asking him to be Adrian Gonzalez, but they will need him to bring a left-handed presence to the lineup.
Jedd Gyorko will be the everyday second baseman this year when regular third baseman Chase Headley is able to return from injury. Until Headley returns, Gyorko is expected to play third base in addition to second base, with Alexi Armarista filling in at second base when he plays third.
The Padres have high hopes for Gyorko even as a rookie and will be counting on his bat from day one. Last year between Double-A and Triple-A, Gyorko batted .311, hit 30 home runs and drove in 100. The Padres are hoping Gyorko can make a smooth transition to the top level and contribute right away.
Everth Cabrera will play his first full season at shortstop for the Padres this year. Last year, Cabrera lead the National League in stolen bases with 44 in only 48 attempts while batting .246 in 115 games. Cabrera is a plus defender despite his 16 errors in 2012.
Last year, Cabrera ranked in the top third of NL shortstops in terms of fielding range at the position. This spring, Cabrera hit .318 with an OPS of .832. The Padres will hope he can continue numbers anywhere close to that in the regular season.
Headley will be the third baseman once he returns from missing the first month of the season due to a fractured left thumb. Headley lead the National League in RBIs last year while batting .286 with 31 home runs. The Padres will need the switch-hitter to have another great year if they are to be serious contenders in the NL West or the wild card. Cody Ransom will fill in at third base on a platoon basis with others as long as Headley remains out.
Grandal turned heads last year after being called up from the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate in Tucson. In 60 games, Grandal hit eight home runs to go along with 36 RBIs while batting an impressive .297. However, due to his drug suspension to start the season, his time as the starting catcher for San Diego will have to wait.
Nick Hundley will be the primary catcher while Grandal serves his suspension. 2012 was a disaster for Hundley as he battled injuries all season long and only hit a paltry .157. Hundley was healthy this spring and it showed, as he batted .358 in 53 at bats with three home runs and 10 RBIs.
The Padres are hoping he can produce anything close to those numbers once the regular season begins. John Baker, a 31-year old veteran catcher who spent four seasons with the Miami Marlins franchise before joining San Diego last season, will also see time at catcher until Grandal is able to return.
There is reason for optimism for Padre fans as this core of young, promising players has the look of a group that can develop into a solid dependable infield if ownership is able to keep them together at least a few more years.