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Inbox: Future Padres home run king?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell answers fans' questions
June 22, 2017

Who do you think has a better chance of breaking Nate Colbert's record for home runs as a Padre -- Hunter Renfroe or William Myers? -- David E., Clovis, Calif.Love this question. And I'll start by saying that both have a very good chance to top the 163 home runs

Who do you think has a better chance of breaking Nate Colbert's record for home runs as a Padre -- Hunter Renfroe or William Myers?
-- David E., Clovis, Calif.

Love this question. And I'll start by saying that both have a very good chance to top the 163 home runs that Colbert hit with San Diego from 1969-74.
For now, I'll take Myers for two reasons. First, he's already established himself as a consistent big league home run threat. No doubt, Renfroe has enough power. But it takes more than power to hit home runs. He's yet to prove that his plate discipline and approach can sustain the grind of a season full of adjustments made by big league pitchers.
Second, Myers already has a head start. Both are under team control for 5 1/2 more years -- Renfroe as a rookie and Myers because of the $83 million extension he signed during the offseason. So why not take the guy who already owns a 50-19 edge?
That said, had you asked which player is more likely to crack Greg Vaughn's single-season mark of 50, I'd take Renfroe in an instant. If he can put everything else together at the plate, he has that kind of raw power.
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With the emergence of Franchy Cordero and Allen Cordoba, does Alex Dickerson ever get another chance?
-- Chad

Is Travis Jankowski a part of the Padres' plans going forward?
-- Scott Z., Seattle

By no means have the Padres forgotten about Dickerson and Jankowski, both of whom received significant playing time in 2016. (Dickerson is out indefinitely with a bulging disk in his back, and Jankowski is healing slowly from a fracture in his right foot.)
Both are very much part of the Padres' future plans, especially considering their unique skill sets -- defense and speed for Jankowski and a patience/power combo for Dickerson. Both have sustained more Major League success than Cordero, Cordoba and Jose Pirela. I'd argue that if one of the two were suddenly healthy, he'd receive instant playing time.
But they aren't healthy, and that's the problem. Neither injury is the type that generally disappears without further repercussions. (Especially when you consider Jankowski's speed and Dickerson's violent swing.) Before worrying about long-term plans, the Padres' primary concern is getting the duo through the healing process.
Has enough changed with Pirela now to think he can grab a full-time job -- second base or otherwise?
-- Brandon W.

Pirela, a career .226 hitter entering this season, has been a revelation since his June 6 callup. He's hitting .351/.422/.596. And most importantly, he's hitting the ball hard consistently, giving the Padres reason to believe his success is somewhat sustainable. Pirela currently boasts a 92.4 average exit velocity, the best mark on the team.
But no matter where he plays, Pirela is a subpar defender. And he's due for at least some regression at the plate. Pirela probably doesn't project as an everyday starter. But he has the ability to play multiple positions, rakes against lefties and can pinch-hit in pivotal spots -- all of which make him a valuable bench piece.
How is Christian Bethancourt progressing in the Minors? Do you predict him making any more appearances in the bigs this year?
-- Tyler S.

It's been a grind for Bethancourt, and perhaps that was to be expected. In 14 appearances at Triple-A El Paso, he's posted a 9.77 ERA with a 2.36 WHIP. The progress was always going to be incremental. Pitching is still brand new to him, and there are some basics that, frankly, take time to learn.
That said, Bethancourt has shown flashes of improvement, with consecutive scoreless outings followed by one with a pair of strikeouts. He's a long way from being a big league-caliber bullpen piece. But given his versatility and experience, I wouldn't be surprised by a September callup, when roster spots aren't so scarce.

Why do the Padres have a bunch of guys that hit about 20 home runs but have sub-.300 OBPs? Is patience at the plate their biggest concern?
-- Robert A.

Offensively, at least, patience is absolutely their biggest concern. For the second season in a row, the Padres rank last in the Majors in on-base percentage. This season, that mark has dipped to .294 as a team.
Part of that problem is youth. Renfroe and Austin Hedges are two of the main high-power, low-OBP culprits. They're among about five hitters who are facing Major League pitching consistently for the first time. That means better pitches outside the strike zone and better pitch sequencing as well. As both Renfroe and Hedges have shown, adjustments can be made to lay off those pitches. But the Padres need to do so more consistently.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.