TUCSON PADRES IN THE MAJORS

Tucson Padres: Pipeline to San Diego

Grandal leads group of ex-Tucson players with big-league club
2012-07-06T00:00:00Z Tucson Padres: Pipeline to San DiegoDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 06, 2012 12:00 am  • 

SAN DIEGO - Yasmani Grandal played 56 games for the Tucson Padres this season. Each time the 23-year-old catcher took the field, he was preparing for his inevitable promotion to the major leagues.

He wanted to be as ready as possible when he got his crack.

Grandal was called up late last month and has four home runs in his first six games with San Diego. He's just the fourth player since 1900 to do so. He's already tied for fourth on the team in home runs.

"He's doing something special right now," San Diego manager Bud Black said.

Grandal hasn't been the only former Tucson Padres player to make an impact for San Diego this season. Of the 25 players on San Diego's active roster, 15 have played for Tucson in the team's year-plus history.

"Guys are cutting their teeth and getting experience," Black said.

Here's a look at the five former Tucson players who have had the greatest impact in San Diego. Statistics are as of Wednesday.

Yasmani Grandal, catcher

With Tucson: April 2012-June 2012 (.335 avg, 6 HR, 35 RBIs)

With San Diego: June 2012-present (.300, 4 HR, 6 RBIs)

Why he's in San Diego: One of the top-rated catching prospects in baseball, Grandal was called up to San Diego last month to give the Padres some pop in their lineup and play every day with opening day catcher Nick Hundley demoted to Tucson.

How Tucson helped: Grandal said Thursday that he learned a productive pregame routine from manager Terry Kennedy that he'll "probably use for the rest of my career."

Jesus Guzman, infielder/outfielder

With Tucson: April 2011-June 2011 (.332, 8 HR, 57 RBIs)

With San Diego: June 2011-present (.280, 8 HR, 71 RBIs total)

Why he's in San Diego: Guzman was promoted after a hot start last season and has been a reliable bench bat for Black's squad, while drawing an occasional start at first base or in the outfield.

How Tucson helped: Before his stint in Tucson, Guzman had just 20 career at-bats in the big leagues. He found an approach that worked and has 447 at-bats to his credit since the promotion.

Everth Cabrera, shortstop

With Tucson: April 2011-August 2011; April 2012-May 2012 (.310, 2 HR, 30 RBIs total)

With San Diego: July 2011; May 2012-present (.237, 2 HR, 10 RBIs total)

Why he's in San Diego: The team's opening-day shortstop, Jason Bartlett, was hitting .133 before the Padres put him on the disabled list and the major-league club was in need of an everyday shortstop, which Cabrera has been since the middle of May.

How Tucson helped: Cabrera was rushed to the big leagues in 2009 as a 22-year-old and hit .208 in 2010 before being demoted. Cabrera used his 2011 season and the start of 2012 in Tucson to continue to mature as a player, and the extra time in the minors has helped.

Alexi Amarista, second base

With Tucson: May 2012 (.286, 1 HR, 6 RBIs)

With San Diego: May 2012-present (.289, 4 HR, 17 RBIs)

Why he's in San Diego: Amarista went up with Cabrera when the big-league club retooled its middle infield of Bartlett and Orlando Hudson.

How Tucson helped: Amarista was traded to the Padres organization from the Angels in May. He was in Tucson for only 11 games, but showed enough that he was ready for a full-time gig in the big leagues and was called up.

Dale Thayer, relief pitcher

With Tucson: April 2012 (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 8 1/3 IP, 2 hits against)

With San Diego: April 2012-present (1-2, 4.81 ERA, 5 saves)

Why he's in San Diego: Thayer was called up early to give San Diego an extra arm in the bullpen after injuries ravaged the staff.

How Tucson helped: Thayer was Tucson's best reliever early on and was dominant from the start. The reliever said he didn't make any major adjustments in Tucson, but gained confidence.

On StarNet: Follow the Padres through the summer at azstarnet.com/padresbaseball

The all-Tucson team

San Diego could field a lineup of all former Tucson Padres. Only two of the players were in Tucson on rehab assignments. Everyone else was once assigned to the Triple-A club.

• C: Yasmani Grandal

• 1B: Jesus Guzman

• 2B: Alexi Amarista

• 3B: Logan Forsythe

• SS: Everth Cabrera

• OF: Will Venable

• OF: Carlos Quentin (rehab player)

• OF: Cameron Maybin (rehab player)

• SP: Kip Wells

• RP: Dale Thayer

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