Well, it finally happened. The path has been made clear for Austin Hedges to begin the year as the Padres starting catcher with the trade of veteran Derek Norris. Most would argue that Norris’ horrific year at the plate in 2016 (.186/.255/.328, 56 OPS+) all but guaranteed that Hedges would get the lion’s share of the playing time anyways, but with Norris being shipped off to the Washington Nationals, San Diego will avoid even a shred of catching controversy.
While Norris is a good buy-low/rebound candidate (he had the highest “hard contact” rate and “line drive” rate of his career last year, at 34.4% and 21.9%, respectively), he obviously doesn’t fit in the competitive window the Padres are shooting for. Hedges doesn’t have much left to learn at Triple-A El Paso (.326/.353/.597 with a career high 21 dingers and 82 RBI), so this afternoon, the time was right for AJ Preller’s first post-suspension trade.
On November 18th, the Padres added four new players to the 40-man roster: shortstop Javier Guerra, pitcher Walker Lockett, converted pitcher Jose Ruíz, and outfielder Franchy Cordero. While Lockett has the greatest chance of making the big club this year (Ruiz and Guerra ended 2016 in High A Lake Elsinore), Cordero has a lot of potential and ended the year in Triple-A El Paso.
A little background on the newest member of the Padres 40-man: In 2012, the Padres signed 17-year-old Franchy Cordero out of the Dominican Republic for $175,000. Though he was 6’3”, San Diego figured him to play primarily at shortstop, though some scouts saw him as a third base candidate. After spending time with the Dominican Academy and in extended spring training, he broke into A-ball as a 19-year-old. His debut, however, failed to live up to the high praise bestowed upon him by numerous scouts who watched him in the Spring Training backfields in 2014 (notably Jason Parks, formerly of Baseball Prospectus and currently with the Chicago Cubs).
After opening your Padres Christmas gifts, get your Padres fix.
In a stroke of genius to counter the annual “A Christmas Story” marathon on another network, Fox Sports San Diego just announced that they will be running marathons of a few of their original shows on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
A couple of the programs may be of interest to Padres fans.
What is the Burch Smith Society, you ask? ‘Tis a clever play on words offered up by Nate of the Vocal Minority for the first Padres Public post on Burch Smith since his call up from Double-A San Antonio.
Here’s my effort to put a little something extra behind the name, though.
The Burch Smith Society is a collection of fans who desire to see youth served. The BSS would prefer to see talented individuals who are recognized as the future of the organization playing now rather than washed-up re-treads who require hyphens to describe their inadequacies. If the Padres are going to float along accidental-like on the wind, then let’s do it with the promise of tomorrow. Burch Smith represents tomorrow and I’m excited that he’ll be making his MLB debut on Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Does that work? It is neither here nor there. Here are some encouraging words about Burch Smith . . .