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Padres position battles: Who has impressed? 

@AJCassavell
March 6, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres camp features a surprising amount of roster clarity this year. But there are still a handful of important decisions looming for new manager Jayce Tingler and his staff. With less than three weeks until Tingler fills out his 26-man Opening Day roster, here's where things stand

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres camp features a surprising amount of roster clarity this year. But there are still a handful of important decisions looming for new manager Jayce Tingler and his staff.

With less than three weeks until Tingler fills out his 26-man Opening Day roster, here's where things stand in the Padres' four most prominent position battles:

CATCHER

The contenders:

Francisco Mejía: 0-for-13, 3 BBs, 2 Ks
Austin Hedges: 3-for-13, BB, 3 Ks
Luis Torrens: 2-for-11, 2 BBs, 4 Ks

What we've learned: Mejía and Hedges are still huge favorites, sure. But Torrens is in the race. His performance this spring has turned heads, and he's made massive improvements since his 2017 Rule 5 season. If Hedges and Mejía struggle, Torrens might still force his way onto the roster. Concerns about Hedges' offense and Mejía's defense have persisted. Hedges has done little to quash those concerns this spring. Mejía, meanwhile, has probably exacerbated them with a shaky spring behind the dish.

What's next: Given his track record for hitting, it seems very likely that Mejía turns around his slow start and claims a roster spot. Hedges' defense means he's also destined for playing time. But even if those two end up as the Padres' catchers, their playing-time split is TBD. Hedges and Mejía have a lot to play for over the next couple weeks.

SECOND BASE

The contenders:

Jurickson Profar: 3-for-16, 2B, HR, BB, 2 Ks
Brian Dozier: 4-for-13, 2 BBs, 5 Ks
Greg Garcia: 6-for-16, HR, BB, 4 Ks
Jake Cronenworth: 4-for-14, 2 BBs, 3 Ks
Ty France: 3-for-13, 3 2Bs, 2 BBs, 4 Ks

What we've learned: Dozier has entered the competition, and suddenly he's a serious candidate for the starting second base job. Dozier is in camp on a Minor League deal, but he's a heavy roster favorite and expected to challenge Profar for everyday playing time. Garcia will continue to fill his utility role, and there might just be room for another utility piece, too. Perhaps it's France, who plays primarily at the infield corners and could serve as the emergency catcher. Perhaps it's Cronenworth, a strong defender in the middle infield who also boasts a three-pitch mix as a reliever.

What's next: Profar and Dozier will continue their second-base battle, with Garcia set to receive regular reps there, too. All three are probably bound for roster spots, and the competition for playing time will linger into the regular season. In reality, the true spring battle might lie behind that trio. The addition of a 26th man gives the Padres some flexibility to get creative with their utility pieces.

OUTFIELD

The contenders:

Josh Naylor: 2-for-7, BB, K
Franchy Cordero: 2-for-10, 3 BBs, 4 Ks, SB
Abraham Almonte: 6-for-15, 2B, 3B, HR, 4 BBs, 5 Ks, 2 SBs
Juan Lagares: 3-for-19, 3 BBs, K, SB
Taylor Trammell: 8-for-21, 3 2Bs, 2 BBs, 7 Ks

What we've learned: It's not worth including Trent Grisham in the outfield race any longer. The former Brewer is practically a lock for a roster spot, and he's the presumed starter in center field. Meanwhile, Wil Myers has solidified himself as the starting right fielder with a torrid spring. That leaves the current outfield competition as a battle for one bench spot, maybe two.

What's next: Naylor has been sidelined with a neck strain, but he's expected to return to the starting lineup on Friday night. The competition for the fourth outfield spot is a two-man race between him and Cordero, with the winner set to serve as the primary lefty bat off the bench (and a useful platoon option for Myers). After that, it's up to Lagares and Almonte to make a case for the Padres to keep a fifth outfielder. They could use a true backup in center field, and Lagares fits the bill as a proven defender, but he'll need to hit.

FIFTH STARTER

The contenders:

Joey Lucchesi: 4 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 3 Ks, 2 BBs
Cal Quantrill: 4 IP, R, 2 H, 6 Ks, BB

What we've learned: Quantrill needed a huge spring to make his case for a rotation spot over Lucchesi. Thus far, he hasn't been afforded the opportunity. The right-hander missed a week as he battled the flu, and he didn't get back on the mound until Thursday, pitching two scoreless frames against Seattle. Lucchesi has been solid, though unspectacular, in his two outings. But he can lean on a track record that's much more proven than Quantrill's.

What's next: Quantrill will continue getting an opportunity. But he has ground to make up. Barring a few standout starts, Quantrill seems headed for Triple-A -- or potentially a swing-man role in the bullpen. Then again, he provides valuable depth in the case of an injury. Speaking of depth: The Padres are eager to see prospects MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patiño, Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez against big league competition. But that quartet of starters is expected to open the season in the Minors.

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