Nick Noonan is just one of a number of new, highly touted former prospects in the Padres’ spring camp.
The one difference: he’s from San Diego.
The former Francis Parker high school standout shortstop is competing for a utility role with the Padres this Spring Training.
Signing with his hometown team was step one. Making the big league club would be step two, and a dream come true.
“There were some flash back moments,” Noonan said when asked about the surrealism of playing for the team he grew up watching. “Going to old Padres games at Qualcomm, and Petco (Park) when I was younger, just thinking, ‘man, I could have the possibility of making that team and playing for the Padres.’ It was pretty special.”
With the signing of shortstop Alexei Ramirez in the offseason, and Cory Spangenberg a lock for second base, the Padres are all but set up the middle for 2016. But, a utility role in the infield is up for grabs.
Versatility at several positions, something Noonan learned in the minors, will be vital for the hometown product’s chances at making the team.
“I think it’s key,” Noonan said when asked about his ability to play multiple positions. “I spent about six years in the minor leagues and then once I finally learned how to play third base, I cracked an Opening Day lineup (2013 with the Giants). I can’t say enough how much it’s going to help my opportunity here with the Padres to be able to go from second to third, or maybe back to shortstop late in the game or something. It’s huge. So, maybe I need to find a first baseman’s glove too and see what can happen. I’m excited.”
Defensively, Noonan is considered to be an above average infielder. He has a strong arm, fluid glove, and smooth footwork.
However, offensively he’s struggled at the big league level. Over two stints with the Giants (2013 and 2015), Noonan hit .197 in 127 at-bats. His primary competition for the utility infield role, Alexi Amarista, is a career .227 hitter coming off a .204 campaign in 2015.
The opportunity is there and so far, Noonan hasn’t wasted any time making his case for a spot with the Padres.
He’s collected two hits and one run scored in four at-bats this spring while Amarista is hitless in five at-bats.
It’s a small sample.
But, a good start for the hometown kid.
–Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)