Nomar Mazara Highlights Potential Chihuahuas in 2022
Although Major League Baseball's lockout is still not close to a resolution, the 2022 Minor League Baseball season is a little less than three months away from Opening Day. Yesterday, the San Diego Padres announced their entire coaching staff for all of their Minor League affiliates, but there has been very little information regarding the Chihuahuas roster for this upcoming season.
Although the Padres transaction wire has a few names listed, the best source for offseason moves is Baseball America. I pieced together some of possible players returning from last season along with newcomers that will potentially be wearing a Chihuahuas jersey for the first time in 2022.
The one name that sticks out the most is Nomar Mazara. It is hard to believe that he is only 26 years old, since it feels like he has been around forever. Mazara debuted with the Rangers as a 20-year old in 2016 and he singled and homered off of Jared Weaver that day. He finished with 20 homers his rookie season with Texas and had four similar seasons with the club before he was traded to the White Sox two years ago. He only played 42 games for Chicago and then signed as a free agent with Detroit where things did not improve for him in 2021. Mazara needs a fresh start to his career and El Paso could be just what the doctor ordered. It will also be his first time around in the National League.
Potentially joining Mazara in the Chihuahuas outfield this season is Thomas Milone, a 27-year old lefthanded hitter who spent last season with the Yankees Double and Triple-A affiliates. Milone, who came originally came up with the Rays organization, batted a combined .280 with both clubs and he has to ability to put the ball into play and also steal some bases. Veteran middle infielder Domingo Leyba was also signed to a Minor League free agent contract last month. The 26 year-old split time last season with Baltimore and Arizona, but also played in Reno and Round Rock. I actually saw Leyba during a late season homestand with Reno and vividly remember him engaging with fans and even getting some popcorn from them to snack on in the dugout. Finally, C.J. Hinojosa, who played his college ball at Texas and is a veteran of six Minor League seasons will play shortstop for the Chihuahuas. Hinojosa hit .316 for Sugar Land last season, with 11 home runs and 67 RBIs in 107 games. He is a career .282 hitter throughout his Minor League career.
As for returning players from last season, catcher Webster Rivas along with pitchers Jose Castillo and Luke Westphal. Aderlin Rodriguez, who hit 19 home runs for the Chihuahuas in 2019 signed a free agent contract to return to the club this season. Top prospect Luis Campusano, who was second on the team with 15 home runs last season, will have a chance to make the Padres out of Spring Training. However, the team acquired Jorge Alfaro in a trade with Miami, so either backstop might end up spending time with Rivas in El Paso this season.
The big name to watch is CJ Abrams, who was just named as Baseball America's 9th best overall prospect (subscription required) for 2022. The slick fielding shortstop is also the club's top overall prospect, and it will be interesting to see if the Padres keep him at short or move him to centerfield since Fernando Tatis Jr. currently occupies that spot for the time being. San Diego did move Tatis into the outfield late last season after the numerous shoulder injuries he suffered in 2021. Abrams spent last season in San Antonio but he fractured his left tibia and sprained his MCL in a collision last July. Abrams is expected to be ready for Spring Training and he could debut in San Diego at some point in 2022.
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