6 Padres to Watch
Meet the newest Padres to hold our high hopes in their gloves
It takes a village to raise a child — or in the Padres’ case, one to elevate them from the big hole left by All-Star slugger Adrian Gonzalez. Though promising 22-year-old first baseman Anthony Rizzo is expected to eventually fill the void, six new faces will be counted on immediately to help the Padres contend in the National League West. Here are the ballers who will play prominent roles this season:
Hawpe won’t match Gonzalez’ power numbers — the pitching-friendly dimensions of Petco Park won’t allow it — but he should add some pop. With the Rockies, he topped 20 homers in four consecutive seasons (2006-2009), including a career-high 29 and 116 RBIs in 2007. Hawpe’s a solid contact hitter and holds a .279 career batting average.
He slumped badly late last season with the Rangers, but Cantu, who hit a career-high 29 home runs with the Marlins in 2008 (he also drove in 100 RBIs in 2009) could deliver a boost off the bench and be an adequate spot starter for Hawpe and third baseman Chase Headley.
Health issues limited the “O-Dog” to 126 games and a career-low .268 batting average last season with the Twins, but the Padres hope Hudson will add more bite to their offense than former second baseman David Eckstein.
Though the stock of the 23-year-old centerfielder has dropped substantially, the Padres, who picked up Maybin from the Marlins for two relievers, believe he can meet expectations in San Diego.
Acquired in a trade with the Rays, Bartlett is considered an upgrade from Miguel Tejada; he plugs a much-needed gap at shortstop.
If San Diego native Harang can turn back the clock to 2007 when he went 16-6 with a 3.73 ERA, a career-best 1.14 WHIP and 218 strikeouts with the Reds, he will provide a significant shot in the arm for the Padres’ pitching staff.