Former MLB All Star Allen Craig Among 2018 El Paso Chihuahuas
The El Paso Chihuahuas released their official roster yesterday, and it features 10 players with Major League Baseball experience. It also includes one former MLB All Star. Five years ago, Allen Craig was one of the top players on the St. Louis Cardinals. He made the All Star team in 2013 and he has hit .314 in a pair of World Series for the Cards, including three home runs and a World Championship in 2011. His career was derailed by injuries and he suddenly finds himself the elder statesman on the Chihuahuas' 2018 Opening Day roster. Craig will play first base for manager Rod Barajas and give the team some veteran experience in the clubhouse.
In addition to Craig, 30-year old Shane Peterson spent the majority of the 2015 season with the Milwaukee Brewers and he hit .259 with 16 RBIs that season. He will join Travis Jankowski, Franmil Reyes, and Nick Schulz in a crowded Chihuahuas outfield that could soon include Franchy Cordero. Jankowski got his first taste of Big League ball in 2015 with the Padres, and he has spent parts of the last three seasons in San Diego. However, because there was no room in the bigs to begin 2018, Jankowski returns to El Paso to start the season. Reyes is an interesting name to monitor since he clubbed 25 home runs for San Antonio last season and drove in 102 runs. The 22-year old has an opportunity to build on those career best numbers with the Chihuahuas this season.
Middle infielders Javy Guerra and Luis Urias were both profiled in Adrian Broaddus' 10 Padres prospects to watch in 2018. Veterans Diego Goris and Dusty Coleman return and will add more veteran depth in the infield behind Craig. At catcher, Raffy Lopez joins the Padres organization from the Toronto Blue Jays, where he spent much of last season playing with Buffalo. Lopez also has played 40 games in the big leagues leagues over four seasons with the Cubs, Reds, and Jays. He will share duties behind the plate with 27-year old Stephen McGee, who played 78 games for San Antonio in 2017.
The two pitchers on El Paso's opening day roster that I am most interested in watching are Brett Kennedy and Eric Lauer. They both pitched well in San Antonio last season and should help stabilize the Chihuahuas' starting rotation this season. Lauer has the higher ceiling among the two, and the southpaw has four solid pitches, a good delivery, and advanced pitchability. Former fourth rounder Walter Lockett returns to El Paso, and he still projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues. However, he will have to deliver a much better season than he had in 2017 in order to get to San Diego. In the bullpen, familiar names like Phil Maton, Eric Yardley, and Buddy Baumann return. Maton was considered to be a future closer in San Diego but Brad Hand's emergence last season combined with Adam Cimber's terrific spring led to Maton beginning the season with the Chihuahuas. The Padres like to shuffle their bullpen throughout the season so all of those names might be spending 2018 between El Paso and San Diego.