Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Padres' youngsters combine to down Cubs

Mejia hits key homer as Morejon, Quantrill are stingy on mound
@Russ_Dorsey1
July 21, 2019

CHICAGO -- When general manager A.J. Preller began reconstructing the Padres’ farm system several years ago, days like Sunday were what they had to be hoping for. As one of the youngest teams in the Majors, the Padres are expecting big things from their young players in pursuit of their

CHICAGO -- When general manager A.J. Preller began reconstructing the Padres’ farm system several years ago, days like Sunday were what they had to be hoping for.

As one of the youngest teams in the Majors, the Padres are expecting big things from their young players in pursuit of their first postseason berth since 2006.

The team’s formula of letting its young talent show what they can do has worked well this season and continued Sunday as the Padres' youngsters had their fingerprints all over a 5-1 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Box score

“It’s exciting,” 20-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. said. “It’s going to be fun, and it’s going to be fun for a long time as we show our abilities and show what we can do.”

The Padres have been cautious with the growth and development of their homegrown talent, but they also have given those players a chance at the big league level.

The victory over the Cubs, which halted a three-game losing streak and prevented a weekend sweep by Chicago, featured several pieces of the team’s future. Among the pieces were 20-year-old pitcher Adrian Morejon making his MLB debut and 23-year-old catcher Francisco Mejía hitting a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning.

Morejon didn’t look fazed by the moment and showed some electric stuff in his brief appearance as the opener. He featured a four-pitch mix that included a curveball, slider and his two- and four-seam fastballs that topped out at 97.8 mph.

“I think the first hitter, I was pretty nervous,” Morejon said through a team interpreter. “I felt fine, even though they got a couple of hits there. I felt fine.”

Manager Andy Green revealed the Padres saw steely nerves from Morejon long before he reached the Majors.

“I think A.J., from the second we took Adrian,” Green said, “I remember him showing me a U-16 team tournament. It was Cuba vs. USA and him punching out about 14 guys, looking completely composed with ease on the mound. It’s part of his DNA.”

Morejon handed the baton to “elder statesman” Cal Quantrill, who at 24 years old, was the oldest of Sunday’s standouts. Quantrill, who has thrived in his role as the Padres’ swingman, tossed 5 2/3 innings of scoreless, two-hit relief to earn the win.

“I think you saw a 20-year-old go out and compete against one of the best teams in the National League. I think that’s exciting,” Quantrill said. “I love being part of it. I think there’s something to learn from young guys. We always talk about what the older guys have to say, then have a young guy come in and just shove -- it’s pretty cool.”

There was also a display of chemistry and promise between the Padres’ middle infield of the future. Second baseman Luis Urias and Tatis showed what San Diego hopes is the best double-play combo in baseball.

The 22-year-old Urias finished the game 0-for-2 but drew two walks and scored two runs. Both times, he was driven in by Tatis -- something fans can get used to watching for years to come.

As Tatis has become one of MLB’s most exciting players, things haven't come as easy for Urias.

While the Padres have shown they are willing to promote players they feel can play at the Major League level, they also haven’t been afraid to send players down to adjust as they’ve shown with Urias, Mejia and others.

Sending Urias down to Triple-A to fine-tune things was disappointing in the short term, but the team’s long-term focus on the future success for both him and the club has remained in mind. That will continue to be the focus with other young players like MacKenzie Gore and others on the way.

“[Luis] is good, and he’s going to be very special for us,” Tatis said. “We’ve been playing together in the Minor Leagues for a while. He’s going to be his best talent and I’m going to bring my best.

“We’re playing against the best players in the world. We just have to get better every single day."

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.