The San Diego Padres are one of the youngest teams in the MLB. According to Baseball-Reference's metric, which adjusts for playing time, the 2019 season saw them with the youngest pitching group and second-youngest group of batters in the MLB.
As a young, promising squad, they're going to be looking for player development to have a big impact on their 2020 success. The continued improvement of their breakout players from last year will be important, as will having new players step up and make big contributions in 2020.
With that in mind, here are three Padres players set to break out this year.
3. Josh Naylor
The Padres are deep in the outfield, and Josh Naylor could begin the year in Triple-A. His first year in the majors in 2019 opened some room for optimism, though. He only slashed .249/.315/.403, which undoubtedly disappointed fans after he blew up with a .392 weighted on-base average (wOBA) in his 54 Triple-A games. His contact numbers suggested he was still hitting very well though, posting a 41.6 percent hard-hit rate in the MLB, while his 9.1 percent swinging-strike rate wasn't too much worse than his 7.5 percent in Triple-A. If he can improve his plate discipline, he could force himself into a regular role in the lineup.
2. Gerardo Reyes
Padres fans may be holding their nose after Gerardo Reyes struggled to the tune of an egregious 7.62 ERA in 27 games in 2019. His underlying numbers show some really encouraging signs though. To start, his skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) was just 3.38, and he had a solid 3.41 fielding-independent pitching (FIP). Part of that high ERA may have simply been bad luck. His strikeout numbers were also outstanding. His 15.7 percent swinging-strike rate matched Kirby Yates for the team-high (min. 20 innings pitched), and he punched out 32.5 percent of the batters he faced. That's a slightly higher rate than he even managed in Triple-A (31.9 percent), and he did that while pulling his walk rate down (from 10.5 percent to 9.4 percent). He's another guy that may start the year in Triple-A, but he could have a real impact at the MLB level.
1. Ty France
Ty France's 2019 numbers were like a more extreme version of Naylor's. He disappointed as well, slashing .234/.294/.402 with 7 home runs in 201 plate appearances. His Triple-A numbers were staggering, though, with 27 dingers and a .502 wOBA across 76 games. Like Naylor, he was also still making terrific contact that the major league level, with a combination of a 41.2 percent hard-hit rate and 36.8 percent fly-ball rate, suggesting he's got the kind of pop to put up some huge home run numbers in 2020.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.