The Padres have lost third baseman Chase Headley for at least a month to a fracture of his left pinkie, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Headley's absence will be felt strongly in a lineup that was already light on firepower. Enjoying the best season of his career, the 27-year-old hit .292/.380/.407.
Replacing Headley on the 25-man roster is James Darnell (pictured), continuing a parade of strong prospects to arrive in San Diego over the past year. In fact, Darnell joins a team in which over half the club has been a teammate of Darnell's earlier this season at Triple-A and Double-A.
“The last couple of years, when you look at young players, you try to project what they can do, what they can become,” Padres manager Bud Black said. Darnell is no different, with a real chance to impact the team.Darnell's calling card is his on-base percentage, resting at a career .404 down on the farm. Over 464 plate appearances split between Double-A and Triple-A, the 24-year-old hit .317/.415/.573 with 23 home runs. While Darnell has never been considered an elite prospect, he could easily take the road Kevin Youkilis did -- using his plate discipline to get a shot with potential of emerging into a solid -- or better -- regular. Admittedly, that's a high bar to set.
Darnell will get an opportunity to play third and also split time in left with Kyle Blanks, but Darnell's future appears to be in the outfield. That may be difficult to arrange, with Darnell, Blanks and first basemen Jesus Guzman and Anthony Rizzo all vying for playing time.
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