Padres Add Lefty-Masher Drury to Already Spectacular Lineup

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Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports activities

A commerce deadline that Padres followers received’t quickly neglect got here to a detailed with a smaller but nonetheless impactful transfer, with Brandon Drury heading to San Diego from Cincinnati in return for prospect Victor Acosta. Drury, a free agent after the season, is probably not Juan Soto, who was acquired mere hours earlier, however his 132 wRC+ this season turned him into one of many extra sought-after bats obtainable on the deadline.

It’s been an extended street for the 29-year-old Drury up thus far in his profession, with the Padres representing his sixth franchise in eight seasons. After years of below-average hitting, he surprisingly put up a 114 wRC+ principally off the bench for the Mets in 2021. That got here in solely 88 plate appearances, but it surely was sufficient to earn him a cope with the Reds in late March after the group’s post-lockout hearth sale. He settled in because the group’s common two-hole hitter and third baseman after accidents put Mike Moustakas on the shelf and stayed within the lineup because of an influence surge that’s seen him cross the 20-homer threshold for the primary time in his profession. Enjoying in Cincinnati, the best home run park in baseball for righties, definitely performed a consider that growth; his new dwelling in San Diego, the extra spacious Petco Park, is center of the street when it comes to righty energy, so it stays to be seen what number of of these homers will journey with him to California.

It might be silly in charge all of Drury’s enhancements on the ballpark, although, as there have been modifications to his underlying abilities that present he’s a modified hitter. His barrel price of 11.2% represents a notable enchancment in his high quality of contact; his profession price previous to this season was a below-average 6.4%. His 89-mph common exit velocity is center of the pack (although an enchancment on his early profession), however he’s been capable of squeeze extra out of that middling energy by pulling the ball extra incessantly. Relationship again to the start of 2021, he’s hit 49.7% of his batted balls to the left side, up from his profession common of 43.9% and practically 10 factors higher than league common. His flyball price has additionally risen an identical quantity over that point, going from underneath 30% in each of his first two full seasons to 37.6% for the reason that starting of 2021. These modifications could not appear large, however coupled with a swinging-strike price that’s a career-low 7.9%, they’ve unlocked his offense.

In San Diego, Drury will not be a full-time starter, contemplating his main place is at the moment occupied by MVP candidate in Manny Machado, however he shall be a potent weapon in opposition to lefties off the bench. His wRC+ in opposition to southpaws this season is a strong 172 to go together with a median exit velocity of 91.2 mph, backing up final 12 months’s 136 wRC+ and 92.9 common exit velo in opposition to them. That makes Drury a smart platoon accomplice or late-inning pinch-hitter for Jake Cronenworth (103 profession wRC+ in opposition to lefties) and Jurickson Profar (85 profession wRC+ in opposition to lefties). On the entire, San Diego is 18th in baseball in wRC+ in opposition to lefties and twenty fourth in ISO, making Drury’s bat a great tool to have each down the stretch and into the postseason, the place platoon benefits in opposition to relievers show to be large. (That’s to say nothing of the truth that the Dodgers, whom the Padres will face 12 instances of their ultimate 56 video games, have 4 lefties of their beginning rotation.)

Drury’s versatility defensively can be a plus for the Padres. He performed 5 totally different positions for the Reds this 12 months, and whereas nearly all of his work there got here at third, he has over 1,000 profession innings at second base, too, in addition to a smattering of innings within the nook outfield and first base over the previous couple of years. His high quality of play at these positions is up for debate, although the samples are comparatively small and the superior metrics don’t precisely agree on his efficiency. Outs Above Common (OAA) charges him above common at second (+8 profession) and third (+1), however Final Zone Score (UZR) is much less impressed together with his work at these positions (-2.1 profession at second and -1.5 at third). Regardless, he can no less than deal with them, and so he’ll fill a super-utility function with the Padres. I count on to see loads of begins at DH, and as soon as Fernando Tatis Jr. returns, additional deepening the lineup, you’ll most likely see Drury steal taking part in time from Cronenworth or Profar when a lefty is on the mound and supply respite for the remainder of the infield every so often.

As for the return, the Reds are getting Acosta, an 18-year-old and 40 Future Worth shortstop hitting .243/.346/.360 over 131 plate appearances in rookie ball in Arizona. His glorious numbers in Dominican Summer season League play in 2021 — a 153 wRC+, 26 steals and a .442 wOBA — landed him at No. 13 on our Padres prospect list again in Could, however he had fallen to fifteenth in our most recently updated team rankings after scuffling stateside.

In contrast to many shortstop prospects at this age, Acosta seems to have the athleticism and defensive abilities to stay on the place as he ages. Per Eric Longenhagen’s scouting report:

Acosta is a dynamic athlete with the athleticism and arm power to play anyplace on the infield. He has plus defensive toes, palms, and actions, making him a possible long-term match at shortstop.

Acosta’s bat, then again, seems to be the device with probably the most questions transferring ahead. He’s proven sturdy endurance in each of his stops, posting double-digit stroll charges, however his energy has dropped this season, together with his ISO falling from .199 to .117. His pace has additionally did not translate, as he’s been caught stealing seven instances in 12 makes an attempt. And regardless of being a switch-hitter, neither facet appears to work all that nicely for him, as Eric additionally touched on in his prospect report:

Acosta’s two swings are fraternal somewhat than an identical twins and so they range of their efficacy. His barrel drags via the zone from the left facet, making it exhausting for him to activate pitches and inflicting him to pepper the alternative area, whereas his righty swing lacks vitality. […] There are nonetheless paths to an on a regular basis huge league function for Acosta, however based mostly on early backfield appears, they simply aren’t more likely to be carved by his hit device. As a substitute, he’ll need to punch above his weight from an influence standpoint, which is possible given how explosive the little Acosta appears to be. He’s extra probably a switch-hitting utility man.

Given Acosta’s youth, he represents a lottery ticket for Reds followers to dream on, which is a pleasant return when buying and selling away a pure rental — and one acquired for nearly nothing late in spring coaching, no much less — like Drury. He’ll slot someplace within the 20s in Cincinnati’s system, one which bought a lot deeper because of Friday’s trade of Luis Castillo to Seattle and Tuesday’s trade of Tyler Mahle to Minnesota.




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