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Potts among cuts, but he impresses Padres

His bat inspires confidence, though his future position is uncertain
@AJCassavell
March 17, 2019

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Third-base prospect Hudson Potts arrived in Peoria last month with little chance to break camp with the Padres. Then, four days after the full squad reported, Manny Machado arrived, cementing that fact. Indeed, the 20-year-old Potts will not break with the big league club. He was reassigned

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Third-base prospect Hudson Potts arrived in Peoria last month with little chance to break camp with the Padres. Then, four days after the full squad reported, Manny Machado arrived, cementing that fact.

Indeed, the 20-year-old Potts will not break with the big league club. He was reassigned on Sunday, as one of 10 moves that sent players to Minor League camp before a 6-2 victory over the Angels. But Potts took advantage of his opportunity. He made it very clear he has a place in the Padres' plans.

MLB Pipeline's No. 15 Padres prospect, Potts finished 6-for-34 with two homers in Cactus League play. Those numbers were, to some extent, the product of poor batted-ball luck in a small sample -- though it's clear he needs to cut down on his swings and misses.

But in backfield games, no one impressed more than Potts, whose immense power was on full display. Counting his two Arizona Fall League dingers, he's one of five players who have homered 20 times in each of the last two seasons for the organization. The other four? Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes, Christian Villanueva and Austin Allen.

"He has intent in everything he does," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Guys like that keep getting better. We're really pleased with the way he goes about his work, the way he attacks challenges and the way he plays the game. Obviously, the power is impressive. We all feel very confident in the organization he's going to be a really good player for us."

But where?

Even the Padres aren't entirely sure. Potts played a small bit of second base in camp after the Machado signing. He'll continue to get exposure there in the Minor Leagues, where he'll presumably open the season at Double-A.

Some feel Potts is athletic enough to stick at second base, but his bulky frame isn't generally fit for the position. That could mean an eventual transition to a corner outfield spot. Perhaps he'd be a versatile in-and-out option.

The organization feels as though his bat will play virtually anywhere on the diamond. Potts struggled last year after a late-season promotion to Double-A. But in 106 games for Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore, he batted .281/.350/.498.

Defensively, Potts has made significant strides at third base, where he has developed into an average-or-better defender. Perhaps he'd be a midseason trade chip. Perhaps down the road, he'll switch positions. But for now, he’s going to play third base primarily.

"It's impossible to know how things play out," Green said. "We didn't come into camp expecting him to make our club. Between now and the time he makes our club, there's a lot of baseball to be played. We have no idea how all that will play out. He's still going to be a third baseman for us. He's going to bounce over to second base. We'll find out about his versatility, and we'll put him in a position to be impactful for us, because we really like him."

Sunday cuts
Here's the full list of Padres who were sent to the Minors on Sunday morning:

Catchers: Austin Allen, Luis Torrens, Webster Rivas
Infielders: Hudson Potts, Aderlin Rodriguez, Jason Vosler
Pitchers: Dietrich Enns, Tyler Higgins, Kazuhisa Makita, Carlos Torres.

The moves leave the Padres with three catchers in big league camp -- Austin Hedges, Francisco Mejia and Chris Stewart. The farm system’s depth behind the plate is very clear.

Allen, the team's No. 20 prospect, had a solid spring at the plate. Luis Torrens -- a would-be top-30 prospect if not for his year in the big leagues as a Rule 5 player – impressed, as well.

"They're all so unique, and they all bring something to the table that we really, really like," Green said of the organization's catchers. "... There's going to be opportunity in the big leagues as time passes by for all of our catching depth. They're good.”

Noteworthy
• Lefty reliever Brad Wieck, who had offseason surgery for testicular cancer, has been on a slow progression this spring. But he's healthy, and he threw an extensive bullpen session Saturday. Wieck should face hitters for the first time this week, and Green noted that it's possible Wieck gets into a Cactus League game next weekend. Still, he's almost certainly destined to start the year on the injured list.

• Pedro Avila received his first start of the spring, and he allowed two runs in three innings. He was shaky in the first but bounced back nicely. Avila has yet to reach Double-A, and Sunday was almost certainly his last outing before he's optioned to Minors camp. But the 22-year-old right-hander acquitted himself nicely this spring. He posted a 2.70 ERA in four appearances with a WHIP of 1.000.

• Closer Kirby Yates has allowed just two hits this spring while striking out eight in five innings. He added two more whiffs on Sunday. Yates, the Padres' all-time leader in strikeout rate, is scheduled to pitch Monday, as well, marking the first time this spring he will have pitched in back-to-back games.

Up next
Right-hander Chris Paddack continues his quest for the rotation -- and potentially an Opening Day start -- when the Padres face the Indians at 1:05 p.m. PT Monday at Goodyear. Paddack, baseball's No. 34 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, has been arguably the team's best pitcher this spring, with a 2.13 ERA and 37 percent K rate.

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