He was called up to San Diego in June and lasted a couple of weeks before being shipped back to Mobile. Upon his return, McAnulty hit just .167 in 12 games before a promotion to Portland. Before leaving Mobile, McAnulty logged games at first base, left field and right field.
There is another adage that may have been responsible for McAnulty's dive – he was bored in Mobile and frustrated with the lack of bats in the lineup.
In Portland, McAnulty hit .344 over a 38 game span with 15 doubles and six homers. He also added 16 walks for a .405 on base percentage.
He was again added to the San Diego when rosters expanded on September 1. He was used primarily as a pinch hitter in San Diego, a role that he did not immediately respond to, and garnered just 24 at bats with the club.
But his patience at the plate and ability to drive the ball had him leapfrogging several prospects with his call up to the majors.
"A guy like McAnulty who looks like you would pick on because of his body type would seem like he is at the bottom of the line (in first base rankings) but he is at the top for a reason," Bill Bryk, the Padres' minor league field coordinator, explained. "He has a clean swing - short, quick and that is why he lasted in the big leagues probably longer than anyone."
The questions around his bat are all related to power. He has the ability to hit close to .300 but will he provide the power often associated with being a corner outfielder?
In 450 minor league games he has amassed 54 homers – and 23 came in the California League, a known hitter's paradise. Had he played a full season in Double-A, more akin to life in the majors, he would have ended the season with 17 homers. The only thing that skews that is the lack of another bat in Mobile to give him better pitches to hit.
His stock first soared last spring when he showed off his bat at major league camp. It prompted team executives to take notice and when he continued the hitting in the minors he became a must-have on the bench.
The left-hand hitting McAnulty struggled in a bench role, used to the at bats that come from starting but gleaned valuable information from pinch-hitter extraordinaire Mark Sweeney in case he is used in that role again.
McAnulty has worked hard on becoming a better defender at first base and in the outfielder. He is not a burner and does not cover a lot of ground but is cerebral and reads the ball well off the bat. He ended the year with nine outfield assists over two leagues in 86 games of patrol work.
This year, the deck has been stacked against him. The Padres have brought in several players that profile as a first baseman/corner outfielder type that will be vying for a spot on the bench. A torrid spring would give the Padres pause but seeing him in Portland again will not surprise.
One of the hardest working prospects, McAnulty has continually challenged himself and starting the year in Triple-A will only push him harder. He is learning how to play third base under the tutelage of infield instructor Tony Franklin and may end up seeing time at the hot corner to add more versatility to his game.