First impressions of Padres' top prospects

Margot, Renfroe and Asuaje made debuts vs. Giants

First impressions of Padres' top prospects

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

The San Francisco series was big for the Padres. Not because they split the four games at Petco Park over the weekend to complete their strong (8-2) second half against the Giants.

No, the series against a postseason contender marked the Major League debuts of center fielder Manuel Margot, outfielder Hunter Renfroe and second baseman Carlos Asuaje and the return of catcher Austin Hedges.

Some first impressions of the quartet that were recently called up:

• Margot (4-for-13 in three games with a double, a triple, a steal, two RBIs and a run scored) -- Clearly there is a reason why the 21-year-old native of the Dominican Republic is regarded as the No. 2 prospect in the Padres' system. Truth is, he might be No. 1. He has tools. And he displayed them all except power over the weekend. Margot showed solid instincts and coverage in the outfield. Margot and left fielder Travis Jankowski overlapped on a drive to left-center as Jankowski caught what previously might have been a hit. He showed great speed when easily reaching third on a triple Sunday. A foot race between Margot and Jankowski would be interesting. Jankowski might have a quicker start, but has an extra gear at the top of the range. Margot finished a home run shy of the cycle Sunday.

• Renfroe (4-for-13 in three starts with a double and a homer off Madison Bumgarner) -- The only one of the four to homer, and he connected off one of the game's best. The bat is alive. He hit the ball hard. But he looked a little shaky in the outfield in two games. He did show the strong arm he's known for, but couldn't get to two balls that would have been strong plays if he got there to make the catch. But right field at Petco Park can be tricky, and he's far from the worst we've seen there this season.

• Asuaje (2-for-13 with two doubles in three starts) -- I like middle infielders who put the ball in play. His history is that he walks almost as much as he strikes out. Looks like a natural around second base, which is a big plus.

• Hedges (2-for-11 in three starts with a sacrifice fly) -- We've seen Hedges before. But he added a leg kick this spring while working with first-year Padres hitting coach Alan Zinter. I like the new approach. He rifled a single to center that came off bat at 107 mph. Defensive skills are not a question, and he is quiet behind plate. He keeps balls in the dirt in front of him. Pitchers like throwing to him.

NOTES FROM THE SCOREBOOK

• The Padres are now 6-2 in the eight games started by left-hander Clayton Richard, whose ERA with the Padres after 49 1/3 nnings is 2.01. He has a 1.88 ERA in his eight starts. He is 2-1 in five games (four starts) at Petco Park this season. After allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits over six innings against the Giants on Sunday, Richard has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any of his eight starts this season as a Padre.

• The Padres won eight of their last 10 games against the Giants this season after losing the first nine. The nine straight losses were all before the All-Star Game as the Giants posted the best won-loss record in the Major Leagues for the first half of the season. The Padres' 8-2 run in the second half contributed to San Francisco's second-half problems.

• Third baseman Yangervis Solarte was 1-for-4 with an RBI on Sunday after singling as a pinch-hitter in his return to the Padres on Saturday night following his wife's tragic death. He now has a career-best-equaling 11-game hitting streak. He is 15-for-41 during the streak with three doubles and 11 RBIs.

• Infielder Adam Rosales homered in back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday. The homers were historic shots. Saturday's was the Padres' 172nd homer of the season, tying the franchise record set by the 1970 team. Sunday's broke the record. Rosales has 13 homers on the season, including four in las last seven games (19 at-bats) and five in his last 13 games after no homers since July 30. Each of Rosales' last three hits have been home runs.