Last-Place Padres Bring Up First-Place Prospect

Glendale, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal (right) talks with starting pitcher Tim Stauffer after the end of the third inning at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

The 17-35 Padres obviously aren't going anywhere this season, but at least they're bringing up a hot prospect, switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal. Hey, it's something.

The 3rd of October, 2010. Sunday morning.

That's the last time the San Diego Padres seemed relevant.

If the Padres had beaten the Giants that afternoon, they would have pulled into a first-place tie on the last day of the regularly scheduled season; as it happened, they also would have tied the Braves atop the Wild Card standings. All of which would have made for an interesting few days.

The Padres didn't beat the Giants that afternoon. They lost that game, 3-0.

Last season, they finished last.

This season, they're not just last; they're deeply last. They've lost six in a row, with the worst record (17-35) in the majors. Oh, and there's instability in the owner's suite.

There. Now you're all caught up.

Except today there's news. The Padres have called up a young Cuba-born catcher named Yasmani Grandal.

Grandal's notable as the third player in the 4-for-1 deal the Padres made with the Reds last winter. Cincinnati got Mat Latos, the Padres' ace starting pitcher; San Diego got starting pitcher Edinson Volquez, first baseman Yonder Alonso, Grandal, and control-challenged relief pitcher Brad Boxberger (who Grandal leaves behind in the Pacific Coast League, at least for now).

Volquez has been the Padres' best starter this season (which is damning with faint praise, but still).

Alonso's a work in progress; he's got just one home run all season, but he's also got 16 doubles and a .360 on-base percentage. He's 25 and time's growing short but he's still got a chance to be pretty good, anyway.

And now, Grandal.

Just a few months ago, the Padres inked catcher Nick Hundley to a three-year, $9-million contract extension through 2014, which might have suggested that Hundley was going to block Grandal for a while.

Or maybe not. Really $9 million isn't a great deal of money, even for a pretty good No. 2 catcher.

Hundley, this season, has become just another emblem of the Padres' failures. Last year he ranked among the game's better-hitting catchers; this year he's among the game's worst-hitting players. Which creates an opening for Grandal, who's hitting 317/421/500 with triple-A Tucson.

Now, lest you start burning up the World Wide Web to draft Grandal for your roto team, it's worth mentioning there's a Grand Canyon of difference between hitting for Tucson and hitting for San Diego. Grandal's numbers will likely take the same tumble that every other minor-league hitter's numbers have taken, upon joining the Padres.

But right now, Yasmani Grandal is about as interesting as the San Diego Padres get. If you're a fan, you have a choice. You can spend the weekend thinking about Yasmani Grandal. Or you can spend the weekend thinking about Jeff Suppan.

***


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