Manuel Margot was considered the centerpiece of the Craig Kimbrel trade with the Boston Red Sox. The speedy centerfielder was touted as a potential five-tool player, who at worst, would develop into a tremendous defensive outfielder with an average bat.
The 21-year-old outfielder impressed in spring training by hitting .318/.348/.545 in big league camp with three doubles, a triple, and seven runs scored. Margot finished last season playing in Double-A with the Boston organization and many expected the talented outfielder would begin the year in San Antonio. Instead, the Padres were aggressive with their assignment and bumped Margot to Triple-A El Paso. The young outfielder has had a relatively smooth transition in his first half-season in a new organization.
“It hasn’t been too different for me at all. Some clubs have different guidelines and rules but at the end of the day, baseball is baseball. If you are confident in your game, then you will feel good in any situation, regardless of where you play,“ said Margot through an interpreter before participating in the Futures Game at Petco Park last month.
Margot has been one of the best players in the Pacific Coast League, where he amongst the league leaders in many offensive categories. As of press time, Margot is hitting .311/.358/.451, with six homers, 44 RBI, and 24 stolen bases. He is third in the PCL with 83 runs scored (teammates Hunter Renfroe and Carlos Asuaje rank first and second, respectively) and his 24 steals have him ranked in the top-ten. The high contact, low strikeout rates make Margot an obvious candidate to leadoff in San Diego.
“I feel very confident leading off. I have some speed to my game, so if that puts pressure on the pitchers, that will normally help out, in terms of scoring runs. I enjoy being able to start things off at the beginning of the game”
Margot has also been quite successful when behind in the count. Most coaches preach the importance of getting ahead in the count but in 2016, Margot has actually faired much better when falling behind. Margot’s slash line when behind in the count is .331/.333/434, displaying the type of adjustments the young hitter is capable of.
“It’s all about trying to make contact and put a good swing on the ball, regardless of the count. I don’t make a big change when behind -- I just always want to put the ball in play.”
The young outfielder made quite the introduction to the San Diego fans in the Futures Game, where he started in center field and led off for the World team. Margot went one-for-four in the game and scored a pair of runs. The highlight of Margot’s appearances was the spectacular grab that he made in right-center field, robbing USA catcher Carson Kelly of a sure home run.
“For me, it was the best catch of my career, especially with it being in San Diego. For the fans that haven’t seen me play, hopefully, it is something for them to look forward to.”