There are some players who are off to slower starts on the offensive side and pitching side. Should there be calm, concern, or panic when it comes to these players?
1) Jedd Gyorko – Concern
Gyorko has started off slow this season, getting just three hits in his first 26 plate appearances. This week Yangervis Solarte was given the chance to start in his place before Gyorko played in the third game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, in which he was 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He has a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) of .167, while the league average is about .300. It’s early, so these numbers are nothing to look into closely.
Gyorko still has the potential of having 20-plus home run potential, or he has the potential of being a sub-.200 average player. On the latter, on most clubs he wouldn’t be on the roster given his performance since the beginning on 2014. However, given his contract status, he’s here to stay unless a trade in made down the line.
2) Will Middlebrooks – Calm
Middlebrooks is off to an average start, hitting .243 over his first 39 plate appearances. He’s not getting on base a ton, but he wasn’t brought in for that (.282 overall). His power and steady play at third base have made him an everyday player in this lineup. Unlike Gyorko, his BABIP early on is .320 which is above league average.
Without putting statistics into it, Middlebrooks seems to be making hard contact and hitting balls in the most recent home-stand that might have been hit out in a more friendly ballpark. He’s hit a lot better than what his .243 average indicates early on. Personally, he reminds me of Kevin Kouzmanoff. His ceiling may be Kouzmanoff-type offensive numbers that he put up between 2007-2009 as a Padre.
3) Shawn Kelley – Concern
Kelley has gotten the most backlash early on from fans, as he was involved in the Opening Day loss versus the Dodgers and had a rough outing in the first game of the Diamondback series. In three outings, he’s thrown 3 innings while giving up five earned runs. He’s walked four while only striking out two. In his career, Kelley has a 4.83 ERA while opponents hit .284 off of him in April, also the highest out of any other regular season month.
It’s early with Kelley, but if he continue to struggles, Nick Vincent or Kevin Quackenbush would take his place on the roster. Kelley has no minor league options, so the only way he would ever be removed from the roster would be trading him or designating him for assignment, which is not realistic at the moment. It’s way too early to give up on Kelley, though there should be some concern. He has the potential of being a seventh-inning guy to complement Dale Thayer if he gets back on track.
- Josh Johnson threw another bullpen session on Monday and the reviews were positive. He will throw in minor league games next month, according to a tweet by Corey Brock of MLB.com. Previous reports indicate he is targeting a late May or early June return.
- Also from Brock (twitter link), Ian Kennedy is doing well after suffering a left hamstring strain in his first start on April 9th. He threw a bullpen on Friday and had no issues with his injury, and he will throw 70-95 pitches in extended Spring Training in Arizona (link).
- Finally from Brock (link), infielder Josh Van Meter had surgery on Tuesday to repair a fractured left fibula. He is the Padres #30 prospect, according to MLB.com.
Minor League Roundup
Early on, some Padres prospects have impressed in the first week of minor league games.
- Austin Hedges (C) has impressed early on in his first stint at Triple-A El Paso. He is 9-20 (.450) with a home run and 9 RBI in seven games this season. Barring another catching injury on the Major League roster, he would be a September call-up candidate.
- Casey McElroy (2B, SS, 3B) is 7-16 (.438) with a home run and 4 RBI in five games this season. Though not ranked as a top prospect, he definitely could impress if he continues his success at Double-A San Antonio.
- Jose Rondon (SS, 3B) is 12-30 (.400) in his first eight games played with an RBI. Acquired in the Huston Street deal last summer, views on his potential have varied. Some say he could end up being just a utility player, while others in the industry have higher reviews on him. He’s in High-A Lake Elsinore to start the season, but wouldn’t be surprising if he moves up to Double-A by the end of the season if he continues his success.