Margevicius rockets into Padres' rotation

Lefty to start Saturday after surprise spring; crowded outfield likely to be thinned

March 28th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Andy Green called it in February.

No, technically, the Padres skipper didn't predict that Nick Margevicius -- a 22-year-old left-hander without Double-A experience -- would make his rotation. But in an organization loaded with opportunity for its young talent, he knew something strange might happen.

"Every single year somebody shocks you," Green recalled telling his team at the beginning of camp. "Somebody will make this club who, if we were writing the club today, there's no way in the world they'd be in there."

This year it's Margevicius, a seventh-round selection out of Rider in 2017 who didn't crack the team's Top 30 Prospects list. He entered camp as a non-roster invitees, presumably to be given a taste of the big leagues before an early-spring demotion.

Except that never happened. In his pring debut, he pitched two scoreless innings, mowing through the Cubs' best hitters. Then he kept the Giants in check in his second start. All the while, fellow rotation candidates like Bryan Mitchell, Robbie Erlin and Luis Perdomo slumped.

Ultimately, the decision came down to three prospects: Margevicius, Cal Quantrill and Logan Allen. The latter two have much more Minors experience, as both finished the year at Triple-A. But they struggled toward the end of camp -- including a disastrous Cactus League finale in which the two of them combined to give up 13 runs in 1 1/3 innings.

The final rotation place was theirs to lose. They lost it. Margevicius, who posted a 4.50 ERA with a strikeout per inning, capitalized.

"He made big strides in spring," said pitching coach Darren Balsley. "He's a bright kid, a mature kid. But you don't know how much until you meet him and work with him. Mentally, his mound presence, his focus -- it's all well beyond his years."

In 135 Minors innings last year, Margevicius posted a 3.60 ERA with 146 strikeouts to just 17 walks. His command is his signature. His fastball velocity sits around 90 mph, and his go-to out pitch is a slider.

Like they did a season ago with Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi, the Padres are pushing a young left-hander quickly to the big leagues. Barring callups elsewhere in the next two days, Margevicius -- the 198th player selected in 2017 -- will be the second from that Draft class to reach the big leagues. Only Atlanta's Kyle Wright arrived faster.

"We didn't come into camp penciling him into the rotation," Green said. "We didn't expect it. But he handled everything really well. He's going to be another young guy in the youngest rotation in baseball -- but a young guy we're very excited about."

Brito arrives

When Margevicius receives his big league callup before Saturday's game, the Padres will have a decision to make in their outfield. That's because they snagged outfielder off waivers from the D-backs on Wednesday.

The move left the Padres with six outfielders on their Opening Day roster. One of them will almost certainly be optioned Saturday, and Brito's presence perhaps makes it likely Franchy Cordero gets sent down. They're both left-handed hitters who can play all three outfield spots -- with some questions about their defense in center field.

"He's got some pop in his bat, and he's a guy who can run into a baseball in a special way," Green said of Brito. "... It's just one more athlete on the bench right now."

Green has an extensive history with Brito, whom he coached in the D-backs system. Among all eventual big leaguers Green managed in the Minors, Brito was the first.

The 26-year-old is out of options, meaning the Padres can't send him to the Minors without first placing him on waivers. In 82 games over three big league seasons, Brito hit .202/.229/.351.

Urias' demotion explained

With Fernando Tatis Jr.'s callup, the Padres didn't have a starting job available for . Eventually, the two should become the team's double-play duo of the future, but veteran Ian Kinsler won the second-base job in camp. Urias was sent to Triple-A El Paso.

"To start the year, we didn't feel great about having both of them here with one of them sitting," Green said of Tatis and Urias. "That could change. If we feel like he'll help us win, we want to win."

Urias was called up last August, but his big league debut was cut short by a hamstring injury. He aggravated that injury early in the offseason and wasn't able to play winter ball. This spring, Urias was mostly healthy, but he struggled at the plate.

"We expect him to be a huge part of what we do," Green said. "We felt, the way his Spring Training played out, he wasn't really in rhythm offensively, the way we know he can be in rhythm. We wanted to give him some opportunity to get going."