Put Me in, Coach: Tommy Medica
Leading into every baseball season, there are players who teams must count on to step up to the plate and take on a bigger role than they have had in the past. Maybe their team lost a key player due to injury, or maybe they had a player leave via free agency for more money elsewhere. What about the players though that are ready for a promotion, but find themselves blocked by another player(s) at their respective position? Well, I have a few Padres players in mind that are in a similar situation as Opening Day approaches. Today’s focus is on first baseman Tommy Medica (@tmedica18).
I know what some of you are thinking: the guy has only 79 career plate appearances in the bigs! Yes, Medica may have a small sample size against major-league pitching, but I believe his performance at the plate last year was no fluke. The reason I believe this is because I also believe that there is value in minor league stats. When a player consistently puts up a .900+ OPS for three straight seasons over five different minor league levels, there is something to be said about that.
Defensively, he may look like a fish out of water at times at (catcher by trade who suffered a shoulder injury in 2009. Often was the designated hitter in the minors), but his athleticism is a plus, he does a good job of keeping the ball in front of him, and he showed he can make strong, accurate throws across the diamond. Ultimately, he can hold his own as a defender, and I would expect him to improve the more time/repetitions he gets at first.
Listed at 6’1″, 190 lbs, Medica may not seem like the prototypical middle of the order bat on paper, but he’s got the big forearms and thick lower body that you like to see in a power hitter. He does a good job at using his legs to drive the ball, and as some people might say, he “swings a heavy bat.”
He had an aggressive approach at the plate last year while also showing plenty of patience to work the count and draw walks. I was impressed with how unfazed he seemed against established veterans such as Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and A.J. Burnett. And even against some talented young pitchers like Randall Delgado, Julio Teheran, and Gerrit Cole.
In the end, it’s not certain what type of numbers Medica would produce with a full season under his belt, and with Yonder Alonso (@YonderalonsoU) as the Padres’ first baseman in 2014, this likely isn’t the season Padres fans will know. However, if Alonso again misses time due to injury, I believe Medica is ready to take his place and be a productive everyday player.