Sport Padres' young prospects leaning on each other as they make strides to the Bigs
Diamondbacks face Padres, hoping to avoid NL West cellar
Arizona and San Diego enter the final series of the regular season in search of smaller victories, unfortunately about all that is left to accomplish in a down year for each. Diamondbacks second baseman Jean Segura, whose credentials as a leadoff man were questioned following his offseason acquisition, enters the three-game series with a career-high 201 hits.Segura has a commanding nine-hit lead over Colorado's DJ LeMahieu and the Dodgers' Corey Seager in an attempt to lead the league in that category, and he is five hits from tying Luis Gonzalez's franchise record of 206 hits set in 1999.
Sep 28, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres center fielder Manuel Margot (70) slides to score in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park.Jake Roth USA TODAY Sports
SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Padres signified their organizational shift from "win-now" to stockpiling young, controllable talent on November 13 of last year, when the team dealt All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for four minor leaguers.
Even Vin Scully knows Dick Enberg's farewell deserves its own recognition
In this season of long goodbyes in baseball, we'veoverlooked one of greatsignificance. Dick Enbergis wrapping up his seven-year run as the Padres' mainDick Enbergis wrapping up his seven-year run as the Padres' main television voice this weekend. His final home broadcastwas Thursday night at Petco Park. His final season will conclude Sunday in Phoenix.
Two of those minor league players -- infielder Carlos Asuaje and outfielder Manuel Margot helped form a dynamic duo at the top of the lineup for the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas. El Paso won the Pacific Division title and ultimately the PCL Championship over the Oklahoma City Dodgers.
"I think everyone went into [the PCL Championship Series] with one goal in mind: to win the championship. It was a unique experience because playing in the playoffs is really special, regardless of the level," said Manuel Margot through an interpreter, prior to a recent Padres game.
Margot was the table-setter all year for an El Paso team that led the PCL with a .295 batting average and finished second in runs scored with 786. Margot tied Asuaje for the league lead with 98 runs and added 30 stolen bases. The toolsy outfielder finished the year with a solid .304/.351/.426 as a 21-year-old on minor league baseball's toughest stage despite being nearly five and half years younger than the average player in the league.
Anti-All Star team: MLB's worst players of 2016
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"For me, it just comes down to hard work and focus. If you aren't working you will never get the best of your abilities. I work at every part of my game to make sure that I am successful."
Sep 29, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres second baseman Carlos Asuaje (63) hits an RBI single during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park.Jake Roth USA TODAY Sports
Carlos Asuaje, 24, followed Margot in the lineup, adding a potent bat with the ability to make consistent contact and surprising power. The second baseman had 172 hits to lead the PCL and he chipped in with a robust .321/.378/.473 slash-line. His performance was key in guiding the potent Chihuahuas' offense.
"I think the support from my teammates, in addition to my hard work was key to my success. The coaching staff was also tremendous. Really, it was an amazing season all the way around," said Asuaje on his first year in the Padres' organization.
Frank Vogel Q&A: Orlando Magic's playoff hopes center on three big men
The Orlando Magic did a lot this offseason, including some things that earned plentyofcriticism (yes, including my own). They've effectively turned a 12-deep team of young, talented players into a roster built with the present in mind — though winning is no guarantee.Still, the hardest move to criticize was the hiring of coach Frank Vogel after Scott Skiles' surprise retirement. Vogel was let go by the Pacers because team president Larry Bird felt the locker room needed a new voice — even after an injury-riddled 45-37 playoff season.
The Padres chose to keep several young players like Margot and Asuaje in Triple-A all year in hopes of giving the potential future core of a winning San Diego squad championship experience. Asuaje believes that playing with the same group of young prospects helped to build the great chemistry that El Paso experienced.
"I really believe that playing together all year helped. Many of us have been together since spring training, so we were able to motivate each other all year. We challenged each other and pushed one another all year."
The two prospects already introduced themselves to Padres fans before making their Major League debuts. Both players were featured in the Future's All-Star Game at Petco Park in July. Asuaje had a pair of hits and Margot made an incredible catch, robbing the Cardinals' Carson Kelly of a home run.
"That whole experience was incredible," said Asuaje. "I got to see how the crowd reacted to the hometown team, in addition to playing underneath the lights of Petco Park. Facing the top-tier competition we did in the game was just a great experience."
Five power forwards to watch for the 2016-17 NBA season
With the NBA season set to start in just a few weeks, we're breaking down the most interesting players to watch at every position. Here, we take a look at the power forwards who will move the needle during the 2016-17 season. Blake Griffin, 21.4 PPG | 8.4 RPG | 4.9 APG | 50.4 eFG% | 3.8 WS | 22.1 PER (35 games) The Clippers can be the second best team in the Western Conference this season if Blake Griffin is healthy. Last year, with Griffin only playing 35 games, the Clippers slid in the standings and finished fourth in the Western Conference and suffered a first round upset to the Portland Trailblazers. The core of the team has returned. Chris Paul is still an elite point guard; J.
"The whole experience [at the Future's Game] helped a lot. They say it's the first impression that counts," said Margot. "It was only one game and one day but I spent a lot of time observing and practicing. I got out on the field to see how the ball carries and I spent some time getting used to the outfield. It made coming up to the big leagues a little bit easier."
As the regular season drew to a close, both players made strides in their games that helped them reach the majors. Asuaje credited a lot of success to his approach against left-handed pitchers. Asuaje hit .333 in 165 at-bats against southpaws -- after hitting just .216 a season ago in Double-A.
"The biggest change was being more aggressive. In the past, there were instances where I was very timid against lefties. That led to me falling behind in the count much faster. This season, I came out and tried to be aggressive early in the count. Also, for whatever reason, I just saw the ball better than in previous years," said Asuaje.
Both players arrived in San Diego, perhaps for good, on September 21st. Asuaje and Margot were both in the lineup for the first time a day later. While they both were held hitless in their first big league starts, Margot had a run-scoring single for his first hit a few nights later.
"I was nervous out there, but it's still the same game I have always played. I came in in a situation where I had a chance to do something. I really don't try and do too much, I am just looking to make solid, consistent contact," said Margot.
The Cubs are doing the one thing they tried not to do all season
The Cubs have been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since May 2014. On the whole, the Cubs' body language is bad, the plate discipline is poor and it’s apparent to anyone with two eyes and a sense of logic that the Cubs are pressing — the worst possible thing to do in a seven-game series.
Asuaje had his first Major League hit on September 23 -- a double -- as part of a two-hit night.
"I was pretty nervous going into my first few at-bats. I suppose it is because it's a dream come true, really. After those hits, I just realized it is the same game that I have always played, just a higher level," said Asuaje.
As the season wound down, both players seemed appreciative of each other and the championship experience they had together.
"Manuel is a great player and a great guy and I have enjoyed playing with him throughout our careers," said Asuaje. "When you change organizations, you just take things in stride. You have to just learn how to communicate with new players and make friends but obviously having someone you are familiar with makes the transition easier."
"It helped me a lot having him (Asuaje) here. Carlos was a big support system for me, he helped me get used to the organization and he helped me with my English. His support really helped me transition a lot easier after getting traded," said Margot.
While it remains to be seen what is in the future for the Padres and for the two young prospects, Margot and Asuaje experienced winning together -- something both players will attempt to do in San Diego.
You can follow all of the action in the Padres' minor league system at www.madfriars.com and @madfriars on Twitter.
Five Takeaways: Giants @ Packers .
Sunday night is football night and this week it hailed from Titletown, USA as the Green Bay Packers took on the New York Giants. In a game which both had to win, we saw the Packers come out on top 23-16. With a less than convincing performance from both quarterbacks, the Packers defence stiffened in the fourth quarter to see out a close, one-score game. Odell Beckham Jr. was back at his old tricks, catching touchdown passes and hugging kickers’ nets in his team’s loss once again. The loss submitted the Giants to three straight losses, with the last two coming on the road. The Packers, however, move on to 3-1 after their week four bye. They are in a good position to make a push in the NFC North and wait on any mistakes made by the unstoppable Vikings, who have looked great so far.
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