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Spring Report: Padres Cut Roster to 32 Players 

Smith Transactions

With opening day only 5 days away, the Padres have inched closer to finalizing their official 25-man roster by cutting another handful of players from major-league camp. The largest cuts in the Spring roster came this past weekend with 10 players being moved between Sunday and Monday morning.

The cuts included LHP Patrick Schuster (The Padres Rule V draft pick from the Arizona Diamondbacks organization), LHP Tony Sipp, RHP Blaine Boyer, RHP Kevin Quackenbush, Infielder Ryan Jackson, and utility players Alex Castellanos and Alex Dickerson. Also reassigned this past weekend were Catcher Austin Hedges and RHP Jesse Hahn. With these 9 players being moved about the system, or in Schuster’s case being removed completely, the active spring roster has been cut to 32 with 7 moves left to be made.

21-year old Austin Hedges performed well in the first Spring Training stint of his career, posting a .263 batting average in 16 games with 5 hits and 6 RBI. This was an expected turnout for the young catcher who has posted a .268 batting average with 98 RBI and 15 homeruns over three seasons in the minors. Perhaps more impressive was Hedges’ defensive play in Spring, showing strong presence behind the dish and keeping baserunners honest on the field. Hedges will more likely than not start the 2014 season with Double-A San Antonio.

24-year old righty Jesse Hahn was nothing short of impressive in spring, posting 8.2 innings of scoreless pitching and giving up only 4 hits in 5 games. Hahn, who was acquired by the Padres from the Tampa Bay Rays for infielder Logan Forsythe is notable for not having pitched any higher than Single-A Advanced minor league baseball. Hahn posted a 2-1 record with a 2.15 ERA in 19 games for the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League, and is expect to start the 2014 season with the Double-A San Antonio Missions as well.

Outfielder Alex Castellanos performed more impressively as a defensive player than as an offensive one this spring, posting a .229 batting average with 2 RBI and 1 homerun in 19 games with the Padres this spring. Castellanos made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2012, and sports a career line of .171/.176/.390 with 2 homeruns and 4 RBI in 24 major league appearances. Castellanos, who is on the Padres 40-man roster, will most likely be reassigned to start the season with Triple-A El Paso.

Infielder Ryan Jackson, who was acquired this offseason in exchange for IF/OF Jesus Guzman, appeared in 21 games for the Padres this spring posting a .231 batting average with 1 homerun and 10 RBI. Jackson filled in for Chase Headley throughout the spring, but will most likely begin the season down in Triple-A El Paso as well. Jackson appeared in 20 games for the St. Louis Cardinals between 2012 and 2013, posting a .083/.120/.083 line with 2 runs scored in 24 plate appearances.

23-year old Poway High School alum Alex Dickerson performed well this spring, posting a .280 batting average with 7 RBI and 2 homeruns. Dickerson has been sidelined the past two weeks, however, as he rolled his ankle during morning drills and hasn’t played a game since. Dickerson should start the season either down in Double-A San Antonio or Triple-A El Paso, once his ankle heals up of course.

Veteran righty Tony Sipp performed well this spring, giving up only 2 runs over 9.2 innings pitched for a 1.86 ERA in 9 games with the Padres. Sipp may have played his last game with the Padres, however, as he has the opportunity to opt out of his contract since he has not been pegged to the Major League roster. Sipp, who played parts of 5 season with the Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks, sports a career 14-9 record with a 3.84 ERA in 304 games. Whether Sipp chooses to stay in the Padres minor league system or opt for greener pastures is yet to be determined.

Another veteran, Blaine Boyer, was also reassigned to minor league camp. Boyer started out the spring doing very well, showing a lot of strength and command until his last few outings where he completely fell apart. Boyer posted a 5.91 ERA in 9 games (10.2 innings pitched), giving up 7 earned runs over his last three games. Boyer had mixed results over the course of his major league career, posting a 4.81 ERA and a 9-14 record as a reliever between 2005 and 2011. Boyer will be assigned following his performance in minor league camp for the remainder of the spring.

Kevin Quackenbush, who holds an impressive 1.15 ERA over three seasons of minor league baseball (A- to AAA levels) had a fairly decent spring showing until the end, posting a 5.40 ERA in 8 games over 6.2 innings pitched. Quackenbush showed strong command of his fastball and continues to assert his dominance as a top prospect in the Padres minor league system. Quackenbush has given up only 21 earned runs over 164.2 innings pitched in the minors, giving him a good chance at becoming a setup pitcher or possible closer in the not-so-distant future for the Padres.

The final cut, and perhaps one of the more interesting stories, would be the Patrick Schuster experiment. Schuster was acquired through the Rule V draft this last December from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Padres were able to select Schuster once they received their Rule V draft pick by trading reliever Anthony Bass to the Houston Astros. Bass spent parts of three seasons with the Padres, posting a 4.08 ERA and 4-8 record over a span of 75 games between 2011 and 2013.

Schuster, who had not pitched a single game above Advanced Single-A baseball, performed fairly well this spring giving up only 2 earned runs over 8.0 innings pitched for a 2.25 ERA. The young 23-year old southpaw needed to be pegged onto the Padres active 25-man roster at the start of opening day, however, if he was to stay with the team. Because Schuster has been cut, he will now have to pass through waivers before possibly being returned back to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for $25,000 in cash. What does this mean exactly?

Well the Padres acquired Schuster by giving the Astros both Bass and $50,000 for the Rule V pick, but may now have to return him to the Diamondbacks in exchange for $25,000. So the Diamondbacks walk away with their young prospect still intact and an additional $25,000 for essentially “loaning” him to the Padres. The Padres, on the other hand, lose $25,000 for not keeping Schuster on the major league roster and are also without the services of relief pitcher Anthony Bass. Arguably, the ultimate outcome could be seen as the Padres dumping part of their salary since Bass made $503,600 last season and was bound to see a slight increase in 2014. Additionally, a new space is available with Bass’ absence in the bullpen.

With the recent cuts finalized and Opening Night looming on the Horizon, the Padres are still just a handful of moves away from posting their official 25-man roster. With this in mind, question marks sit over the heads of players like Xavier Nady, Kyle Blanks, and Tommy Medica. While Bud Black doesn’t have to make any announcements right now, the clock is ticking with less than 5 days to go.

**UPDATE March 25, 2014 @ 10:52am** Rule V Draft pick Patrick Schuster has been claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals

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About the author: Ian Edward Russell Smith

Ian is a current 2L at California Western School of Law in San Diego and recent graduate of UC Riverside. He has a dual Bacherlor's Degree in Political Science and Law/Society. His Padres fandom first materialized in 1997 after moving from upstate New York to America's finest city, leaving behind his roots as a Montreal Expos fan. Ian currently plays baseball in the San Diego Adult Baseball League in his free time, which comes few and far between his duties as a diligent law student and avid baseball writer.