All-rookie outfield paying dividends for Padres

Trio of Jankowski, Dickerson and Blash strong on both sides of ball since Kemp trade

All-rookie outfield paying dividends for Padres

NEW YORK -- Nowhere on the roster is the Padres' youth movement more evident than in the outfield. Since mid-June, San Diego has essentially replaced a trio of pricey veterans with a trio of unproven rookies.

The decision to get younger in the outfield has already paid major dividends. Left fielder Alex Dickerson, center fielder Travis Jankowski and right fielder Jabari Blash have thrived since the Padres dealt Matt Kemp at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, essentially committing themselves to a three-rookie outfield.

Since Kemp's departure, the Padres have played with only three outfielders on their 25-man roster while they wait for Jon Jay's broken right forearm to heal. Those three outfielders have put up some strong numbers in that time:

Jankowski: .432/.512/.514
Blash: .258/.410/.484
Dickerson: .276/.324/.483

So what made the Padres confident enough to carry three rookies in the outfield without any legitimate depth behind them?

"One, it's where we are," said Padres manager Andy Green, implying that the team's position in the standings has allowed the Padres to throw their young talent into the fire at the Major League level. "Two, we're trying to find out who can handle the grind."

Blash's solo home run

Not since the 2006 Marlins has a team played three rookie outfielders in at least half of its games. It's unlikely the Padres will get there this year, however, unless Blash plays nearly every game the rest of the way.

Still, the last time the Padres gave three rookie outfielders at least 130 at-bats -- enough to qualify for rookie status -- came in 1973 during the debuts of Dave Winfield, Gene Locklear and Johnny Grubb.

"We're all out there going through the same thing, being rookies, coming up together," Blash said. "Hopefully it's a bond, where we can stay in San Diego and hopefully have one of the better outfields."

Thing is, the Padres' outfield might actually get even younger before the season ends. The organization's Nos. 2 and 3 prospects according to MLBPipeline.com -- center fielder Manny Margot and right fielder Hunter Renfroe -- are both raking at Triple-A and could very well debut before the end of the season.

Jankowski scores four times

For now, however, the outfield belongs to Dickerson, Jankowski and Blash. And the trio has posted some very solid defensive metrics to go along with its offensive production. Jankowski, always lauded for his glove, has 7 Defensive Runs Saved this season according to FanGraphs -- tied for the highest mark among outfielders with fewer than 500 innings played. Blash, meanwhile is +3, and Dickerson, once thought to be a liability in left, has been solid of late, sitting at -2 DRS on the season.

"It's nice to have guys, rookies come up and get a chance," Jankowski said. "All of us came up together, so that's a good thing. I played with Alex in Double-A and Triple-A, so I know him well, got to know Jabari in Spring Training. We can cover some ground out there.

"Dickerson and Blash are sneaky quick. They're big boys, but they can move out there. It's been fun, and I think we've played well so far."

The numbers back up Jankowski's assertion. And with Renfroe and Margot waiting in the wings, the future appears bright for the San Diego outfield.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.