SAN DIEGO -- Precisely a year ago, Allen Cordoba was in Johnson City, Tenn., playing shortstop for the Rookie-level affiliate in the Cardinals organization. Luis Torrens, meanwhile, was catching for Staten Island, NY, the Class A short-season club in the Yankees' system.
On Wednesday night, Cordoba and Torrens -- Padres selections in December's Rule 5 Draft -- provided the decisive moments in a 6-3 victory over the Mets. Not bad for a pair of 21-year-old rookies, who had never played above Class A before this year.
Torrens missed his first big league home run (and grand slam) by inches, settling for a bases-clearing triple in the third inning instead. Then, after the Mets loaded the bases in the sixth, Cordoba ranged to his left and made a brilliant diving stop, arguably the best defensive play by a Padre this season.
"Those two guys had a huge impact on the baseball game," said Padres manager Andy Green. "That's fun to see from young guys."
To be sure, Torrens and Cordoba have seen their share of growing pains. That was always expected.
In fact, when the Padres selected the duo in December, many questioned whether they'd be able to stick at the Major League level. (Per Rule 5 Draft stipulations, Torrens and Cordoba must remain on the Padres roster for the entire season, or be offered back to their original clubs.)
There's little doubt anymore: Torrens and Cordoba are in the Padres organization to stay. The same holds true for fellow Rule 5er Miguel Diaz, who is battling back from a right forearm strain.
"There are a lot of young guys out there, on this team," said Torrens. "Everybody goes out there to do their part. Everybody works hard. It's good, there's a lot of energy ... in this clubhouse. Everybody's trying to contribute."
Recent injuries to shortstop Erick Aybar and catcher Austin Hedges have cleared the way for Torrens and Cordoba to receive more playing time.
For Cordoba, it's the first time he's truly gotten consistent reps at shortstop, and he's been shaky. But Wednesday offered a glimpse into his potential. When asked where the play ranked among the best he's ever made, Cordoba replied, "I helped the team, I saved some runs, so I'd have to put it No. 1."
Torrens, meanwhile, is no longer a liability behind the dish. He's been thrown into the fire at the sport's most demanding position. And he's successfully executing game plans with a big league pitching staff.
"I'm always looking for a way to learn," Torrens said. "I'm always looking for something that's going to help me adapt to the level up here, adapt to the play up here. And I've definitely learned a lot."
In all likelihood, Cordoba and Torrens are destined for a trip to the Minors to start the 2018 season. There's still growth ahead for both of them. Cordoba's batting average has dipped nearly 100 points since his hot start to the season. Torrens' average is still hovering below the Mendoza line.
"It's a constant fight," Green said. "You're going to struggle if you want to be great at this game. They've been through some struggles."
Nights like Wednesday serve to reinforce the bigger picture behind those struggles. And the Padres believe more nights like these are on the horizon.