Exit velo on this SD prospect's HR was what?!

March 11th, 2021

Here's the full list of Major Leaguers who hit a home run last season harder than the one 20-year-old Padres prospect hit on Wednesday at Salt River Fields:

Giancarlo Stanton and Rowdy Tellez. And that's it.

Since they selected Mears in the second round of the 2019 Draft, Padres officials have been enamored with his potential, and it's never been any secret why: Mears has legitimate, big-league-slugger-type power.

And he put it on full display Wednesday.

Mears' first home run of the spring was a 117.3 mph laser beam against Rockies right-hander Carlos Estévez in the Padres' 7-5 loss. The ball traveled a projected 400 feet. (And despite the elite exit velocity, it landed softly in the glove of a fan, who made a brilliant backhanded catch on the left-field berm.)

"He's just a freak athlete," said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. "Been waiting to see it. ... We've seen it in BP, we've seen it in some of the intrasquad games. But his power is ridiculous -- how quickly the ball got out of the stadium. It was really cool to see him connect for one and good to see him smile."

Mears, the No. 10 prospect in the Padres' system, launched seven home runs in 43 at-bats as an 18-year-old in the Arizona Rookie League in 2019. It's possible that Wednesday's blast was the hardest-hit ball of his career. But when the 6-foot-3, 230-pound slugger connects, it's not uncommon for that number to sit above 110 mph.

The rest of Mears' game could use some polish. If he wants to tap into that power, he'll first need to lower his strikeout rate. His outfield defense needs work, too, as evidenced by a poor route on a fly ball in the previous inning.

But Mears is only 20 and has plenty of time to work through those kinks. Team officials have already reported strides in both departments.

Despite their recent flurry of transactions, the Padres still own one of the best farm systems in baseball. Mears -- and his other-worldly power -- just might be the next standout.