What to expect from C.J. Abrams

April 7th, 2022

C.J. Abrams’ elite speed, athleticism and overall hitting ability helped separate him from his peers in the 2019 Draft class. A few years later, those skills helped him land a spot on the Padres Opening Day roster.

Abrams has played just 76 games in the Minors -- and just 42 above High-A -- but the uber-talented athlete showed enough in Spring Training to give the Padres confidence that he’s ready to compete at the game’s highest level.

The Padres’ No. 1 prospect slashed .324/.359/.514 and swiped three bases over 17 games. He also showed his ability to handle shortstop, second base and outfield. Yes, you read that last part correctly.

Abrams, the sixth overall pick from the 2019 Draft, has only ever played shortstop or second base in his Minor League career, but got a few reps in right field during San Diego’s Cactus League finale. While it’s unlikely the 21-year-old plays a bunch of outfield, especially initially, versatility is never a bad thing to have on a roster and the Padres are taking advantage.

With Fernando Tatis Jr. hurt, Abrams will likely get the bulk of his playing time at shortstop. That versatility and the possibility of playing the outfield is more likely to come into play later in the year once Tatis returns and Jake Cronenworth is manning the keystone. Ha-Seong Kim is also on the roster and has 117 games of Major League experience under his belt, including 35 games at shortstop. Kim could platoon with Abrams at short, but it seems likely the prospect would get the bulk of the opportunities.

Abrams’ Minor League experience is limited, but there’s a reason he’s ranked ninth overall on the Top 100 Prospects list. He’s really, really talented.

A top-of-the-scale runner, Abrams is able to impact the game on both sides of the ball and has shown as much early in his career, having swiped 28 bags over 76 games. Georgia’s Gatorade High School Player of the Year in 2019, Abrams has long been lauded for his hitting ability and has raked everywhere he’s gone.

He hit .401 over 32 games and won the Rookie Arizona League MVP Award during his 2019 professional debut, impressed at the alternate training site in ’20 and was slashing .296/.363/.420 through 42 games in his first taste of Double-A before a fractured left tibia and sprained MCL prematurely ended his 2021 season.

While Abrams has met every challenge thus far in his career, he does have limited experience at the upper levels, which could pose some problems early. However, Abrams has also shown an ability to make adjustments in the batter’s box and his history as a quick learner could indicate that any struggles won’t be lengthy.

Abrams' path from the Draft to the Majors was certainly quick and that's a testament to his work ethic -- he's made big strides defensively since signing -- and his natural talent. Elite prospects often force the issue and create their own timetable and that's exactly what happened here.