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Rule 5 pick Torrens making most of his chance

Young catcher seeing increased playing time due to Padres' injuries
MLB.com @AJCassavell

CHICAGO -- Luis Torrens was working out in his native Venezuela when he learned the Padres had traded for his rights in December's Rule 5 Draft. The 21-year-old backstop had been given a chance to learn on the fly in the Majors.

"My first reaction was just a lot of excitement and [I was] really happy," Torrens said through a team interpreter. "I told myself I was going to take advantage of the opportunity to the max and make sure I got the most out of it."

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CHICAGO -- Luis Torrens was working out in his native Venezuela when he learned the Padres had traded for his rights in December's Rule 5 Draft. The 21-year-old backstop had been given a chance to learn on the fly in the Majors.

"My first reaction was just a lot of excitement and [I was] really happy," Torrens said through a team interpreter. "I told myself I was going to take advantage of the opportunity to the max and make sure I got the most out of it."

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It hasn't been easy. But after another impressive performance in the Padres' 3-2 victory over the Cubs, Torrens appears to be doing just that.

Filling in for Austin Hedges, who is still ailing from his collision with Anthony Rizzo, Torrens had four hits in eight at-bats against the Cubs this week. With the bases loaded in the eighth inning, Torrens plated the game's eventual winning run by working a walk.

The former Yankees farmhand has certainly seen his share of struggles this year. Torrens is hitting .206/.275/.254, and he's labored to control the run game. But that was probably to be expected for a backstop who had not played above Class A until this season.

"Catching Major League pitching, and being able to walk through the thought process and control your own emotions back there is not easy," said Padres skipper Andy Green. "It takes a lot of time to develop those skills. From the first day I was around him, you could tell he had aptitude, you could tell his mind worked, and you could tell he'd eventually start to get it.

"That doesn't mean there's not going to be some bumps going ahead. But he's getting it, and he's getting better and better. ... Our scouts were well-justified and right in seeing the value, and seeing the future in him."

There are times, however, where the "future" can seem a long way off with Torrens. In the present, he's a catcher who wouldn't be past Double-A in the Yankees' system had the Padres not acquired him in December.

For the most part, his opportunities have been scarce this season behind Hedges and Hector Sanchez. But with the duo battling injuries this week, Torrens received consecutive starts for the first time. He capitalized.

"First and foremost, [I'm] just really happy," Torrens said. "Ultimately, it's about being able to help the team in whatever way possible and being able to put yourself in a position to help the team."

His performance at the plate was impressive. His performance behind it was better.

Green noted that catcher is the "hardest position on the field" to have to bring along from a Rule 5 pick. In a matter of months, Torrens has been asked to learn a new staff and a litany of big league-caliber pitches he'd never caught before.

On Wednesday, the Padres used six pitchers to two-hit the Cubs. Five relievers combined to retire the final 16 Chicago hitters, as the Padres' offense rallied.

"A lot of credit goes to Luis Torrens," Green said. "That's a young kid back there, navigating a really good lineup. He's calling the right pitches, blocking better and better, taking a walk to win the game for us, getting a hit through the other side. He's grown. And for the long run, it's really fun to see him take those steps forward."

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

San Diego Padres, Luis Torrens