PEORIA, Ariz. — The Padres made their first batch of spring roster moves on Wednesday, sending 25 players to Minor League camp.
The moves — all of which can be found here — came with few surprises and left the Padres’ big league Spring Training roster at 52 players.
Here are four takeaways from cut day:
“Marcano has got the ability to play seven different positions out there, and I think he’s performed really well,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “He stays for that reason, and CJ has performed and played extremely well, also. We’ll see where we’re at in a couple weeks, but we definitely wanted to keep those guys around.”
Indeed, Abrams (the Padres’ No. 2 prospect in the MLB Pipeline rankings) and Marcano (No. 6) have been standouts in Padres camp this spring. It remains unlikely that either of those two will crack the Opening Day roster. But if they build on their Cactus League performance, a 2021 callup could be in the cards for both.
2. Thompson to Triple-A
Mason Thompson has endured a roller-coaster of a progression, dating back to Tommy John surgery as a junior in high school, which dropped him to the third round of the 2016 Draft. The 6-foot-7 right-hander has fallen victim to brutal injury luck at nearly every step. He missed time with biceps tendinitis in ’17, a shoulder injury in ’18 and took a comebacker off his leg in ’19. (He, of course, also lost his ’20 season to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
But Thompson has found a groove since his transition to a full-time bullpen role. He was a standout at the team’s instructional camp last fall with a fastball in the upper 90s and a wipeout slider. Thompson struggled a bit in his three appearances this spring, and he was optioned to Triple-A on Wednesday. But the Padres feel he has the makings of a back-end bullpen arm.
“His stuff’s going to play,” Tingler said. “It’s just a matter of being more consistent and commanding the baseball. He just needs as much experience as we can give him.”
Mears, in particular, could use time to develop. His skill set is raw, but the tools are there for an extremely high ceiling. Perhaps his spring performance tells the best story:
Mears came to the plate 11 times and struck out in nine times. But his one hit was thunderous — a 117.3 mph missile of a home run against the Rockies at Salt River Fields (against a legitimate Major League reliever in Carlos Estévez). Therein lies the riddle with Mears: If he can cut down his swings-and-misses, his power potential is elite.
4. A demotion in name only
In a different year, the moves Wednesday would have meant 25 players joining up with the rest of the Minor Leaguers on the opposite side of the Peoria Sports Complex. In 2021, it means something different.
Because of the pandemic, there’s no separate Minor League camp this year. Only players on the 40-man roster and big league invitees are in Peoria with the team this spring. As such, Wednesday’s moves were largely procedural.
“Really the only thing that changes is: They’re going to do their bullpens or do their work on some of the back fields,” Tingler said. “But we’ll still be using those guys to come over and play in the Major League games. Honestly, besides some administrative stuff, not really a lot changes.”