Projecting performance from El Paso not easy

Margot, Renfroe, Hedges, Asuaje set to start Thursday

Projecting performance from El Paso not easy

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

For the Padres, it's the big question.

How will the four position players just promoted from Triple-A El Paso perform in the Major Leagues?

We know how they produced for the Pacific Coast League champions.

Outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot, catcher Austin Hedges and second baseman Carlos Asuaje were all members of the post-season All-PCL team. Renfroe was the regular season Most Valuable Player. Asuaje was the PCL Rookie of the Year. Margot was the MVP of the post-season PCL playoffs.

Center fielder Margot is ranked the No. 2 prospect in the Padres' minor league system by MLB.pipeline. Right fielder Renfroe is No. 3. Asuaje is No. 20. Hedges would be ranked right there with Margot and Renfroe had he not spent most of the 2015 season with the Padres.

Padres manager Andy Green says all four will start Thursday night against the Giants at Petco Park. They are keys to the Padres future.

But what does the future hold? How will they perform? All had memorable seasons at El Paso. But how does that project into their Major League futures?

We know that Southwest University Park in El Paso is a hitter-friendly environment. Actually, most of the Pacific Conference of the Pacific Coast League is pro-hitter.

So, can we project anything from what they did in El Paso? How will it play in San Diego?

Actually, there are two yardsticks already in the Padres lineup - left fielder Alex Dickerson and infielder Ryan Schimpf. Both spent more than a third of the season with El Paso before being promoted to the Padres.

Dickerson led the PCL in hitting with a .382 batting average when he was promoted to the Padres for the second and final time on June 28. He had 10 homers and 51 RBIs in 217 at-bats for the Chihuahuas.

As a Padre, Dickerson has hit .255. He had nine homers and 34 RBIs in 235 at-bats. His on-base percentage with the Padres is .315 compared to .425 at El Paso. His OPS with the Padres is .770 compared to 1.047 with El Paso.

Schimpf was hitting .355 at El Paso and was among the PCL leaders with 15 homers and 48 RBIs in 166 at-bats when he was promoted by the Major Leagues for the first time ever on June 14.

As a Padre, Schimpf is batting only .220. But he has 19 homers and 47 RBIs in just 255 at-bats. His on-base percent and OPS numbers at El Paso were, respectively, .432 and 1.160. With the Padres they are .340 and .890.

So, the batting average and on-base figures for Dickerson and Schimpf are lower by an average of 115 points with the Padres but the power figures are much closer.

With that in mind, here are some El Paso numbers for Margot, Renfroe, Asuaje and Hedges:

MANUEL MARGOT - The 21-year-old center fielder is considered to have the strongest set of all-around tools among position players in the Padres system. He started for the World Team in the Futures Game at Petco Park in July and was named to the post-season Triple-A Pacific Coast League All-Star team. Margot hit .304 with .351 on-base percentage and .777 OPS for Chihuahuas. He led the PCL in triples (12), tied for the PCL lead in runs scored (98) and finished fifth in steals (30). He was the Most Valuable Player of the Pacific Coast League playoffs with a .361 batting average. Margot is an excellent defender with plus speed. He was acquired from Boston last Nov. 13 for closer Craig Kimbrel.

HUNTER RENFROE - The 24-year-old was named Most Valuable Player and post-season All-Star of Pacific Coast League. He was also a member of the PCL All-Star team in July. Renfroe had 30 homers and 105 RBIs with .306 average and .336 on-base percentage and ranked first in PCL in extra-base hits (69) and total bases (297); second in homers, RBIs and
hits (163) and slugging percentage (.557); tied for third in doubles (34); fourth in runs scored (95), and eighth in OPS (.893). Renfroe was the Padres first- round pick (13th overall) in the 2013 draft.

CARLOS ASUAJE - The 24-year-old was named the Pacific Coast League Rookie of the Year and was a member of the PCL's post-season All-Star Team and the mid-season All-Star team. He also played for the World Team in the Futures Game. Asuaje hit .321 with 32 doubles, 11 triples, seven homers, 69 RBIs and 98 runs scored. He led all Triple-A with 172 hits and tied for the PCL lead in runs scored (98), ranked fourth in batting average and eighth in on-base percentage (.378). Asuaje also came from Boston in the Craig Kimbrel trade.

AUSTIN HEDGES - The 24-year-old Hedges was the Padres second-round pick in the 2011 draft. He played 56 games and started 41 games at catcher for the Padres last season and hit .168 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 137 at-bats. With El Paso this season, Hedges batted .324 with 21 homers and 82 RBIs in only 82 games. He missed seven weeks in the
first half of the season after having surgery to repair a fracture to the hamate bone in his left hand. He finished the season with a .353 on-base percentage, a .597 slugging percentage and a .951 OPS. Despite his limited time, Hedges finished ninth in the PCL in homers and eighth in RBIs. Had he had enough at-bats to qualify, Hedges would have ranked
second in the PCL in slugging percentage, third in OPS and fourth in OPS.

NOTES FROM THE SCOREBOOK:

--Asuaje (strike out) and Renfroe (intentional walk) both made their Major League debuts as pinch-hitters in the seventh inning Wednesday night. Margot debuted as a pinch-runner. Renfroe and Margot both finished the game in the outfield.

--First baseman Wil Myers set his single-season Padres record Wednesday night when he ran his RBI total at Petco Park to 53 (topping Chase Headley's 51 total from 2012). With Wednesday night's two-run homer, Myers holds the single-season records for Petco Park in hits (89), home runs (17) and RBIs (53) as well as being the first hitter in
Padres history to top 25 doubles (28), 25 homers (27) and 25 steals (26) in a single season.