Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.
I spent the past week or so playing a secret guessing game with A.J. Preller about who the Padres would call up once the Pacific Coast League season ended.
I got two right, as, I'm sure, did everyone else. Hunter Renfroe was returning . . . as was Travis Jankowski.
But after that . . .
I was pulling for Rocky Gale and Christian Villanueva, but neither were on the 40-man roster. So I discounted that. I didn't think Ryan Schimpf would be returning. His numbers at Triple-A El Paso were no better than they were earlier this season with the Padres.
I thought Dusty Coleman would return, although the Padres aren't really in need of a shortstop with Erick Aybar back and Yangervis Solarte being a very enthusiastic option.
Why was I pulling for Gale and Villanueva?
I like the 29-year-old Gale. He has spent eight seasons in the Padres minor league system. He has worked with almost all the pitchers on the Major League staff either at El Paso or during spring training. And Gale has received high marks for his work with pitchers at Triple-A.
You never know in this business. I've seen older catchers develop as solid backups. If Luis Torrens needs more development time in the minors - a likely scenario - and Hector Sanchez decides to move on, who knows . . . Gale might be a candidate to back up Austin Hedges next season.
As for Villanueva, I just wanted to see him get a chance. He's 26 and was once a top prospect. Injuries slowed his development. But he hit .296 with 20 homers and 86 RBIs this season. He was the constant in the middle of the Chihuahuas' order. Glad to see the Guadalajara, Mexico, native in San Diego - even if the corner infield positions were already crowded.
The return of Renfroe, who homered in his first at-bat back, and Jankowski stirs projections for next spring in terms of the outfield. The leading candidates include Manuel Margot, Jose Pirela, Renfroe, Jankowski and Alex Dickerson, who says he feels great following back surgery. Dickerson never played a game this season after being projected as the club's cleanup hitter.
What I certainly didn't see among the call-ups was right-handed pitcher Tim Melville and the designation of Coleman and reliever Jose Valdez for assignment.
Could Melville, who made four starts for El Paso, get a start at the back of the Padres' rotation?
The Padres' six-man rotation has developed a couple leaks. RHP Jordan Lyles has allowed 11 runs on 14 hits and three walks over nine innings in his last two starts. And LHP Travis Wood has given up 16 runs (15 earned) on 16 hits - including five homers -- and two walks over 4 1/3 innings in his last two starts.
--The Padres have won three of the last four games they've played against both the Dodgers and Arizona. They have two games remaining with Arizona at Petco Park and three against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
--With 12 games to go in the 2017 season, the Padres are within one one of equaling their 2016 total of 68 wins. Since starting the season 15-30, the Padres have gone 52-53.
--1B Wil Myers stole his 20th base of the season during the first inning Sunday - giving him a second straight season of at least 25 homers and 20 stolen bases. He is only the second player in Padres history to have multiple seasons with at least 25 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Ryan Klesko achieved the feat in 2001 and 2002.
--RHP Craig Stammen has made 13 straight scoreless appearances in relief since Aug. 14, lowering his earned run average from 3.79 to 3.05. During the run, Stammen has allowed seven hits and two walks with 16 strikeouts in 14 innings.
--RHP Kirby Yates' ERA has dropped from 4.37 to 3.68 (as a Padre) in a string of nine straight scoreless appearances covering eight innings since Aug. 29. He has allowed one unearned run on four hits and three walks with 12 strikeouts.
--Padres relievers have worked 9 2/3 straight scoreless innings through Monday night's game.