Matt Batten has lived up to his surname in professional baseball.
Batten was the Padres 32nd round pick, 948th player taken overall, in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft. The right-handed batter was drafted as a shortstop after his senior season with Quinnipiac University. According to Doug Bonjour with the ctpost, Batten holds multiple school records, including 249 career hits and 65 stolen bases. Matt also tied the school’s record for runs scored with 139.
The 23 year old became a professional baseball player when he signed with the Padres for $1,000. That number is as low as it is because of his draft position, but also because college seniors don’t have as much leverage in negotiations. If the player wants to play professional baseball, then they’ll take the money. If not, then the team only lost a late round draft pick.
Being drafted where he was, I think most scouts would instantly label him an “organizational player.” That is mostly used as a derogatory term meant for guys that are just on minor league rosters to give the actual prospects the occasional rest. In only one year since being drafted, Matt Batten has played for every Padres minor league affiliate except low-A Fort Wayne. While some of that organizational player term is suitable for Batten, he has put up some numbers that prove he shouldn’t be disregarded.
Matt’s first stop in professional baseball would be the Arizona League where he slashed .263/.336/.394 for a .730 OPS in 110 plate appearances. He moved up to the Padres short-season team, the Tri-City Dust Devils, for the final month of his 2017 season. In 77 plate appearances with Tri-City, Matt slashed .206/.338/.238 for a .576 OPS. That left him with a season slash line of .241/.337/.333 for a .670 OPS across the two levels. Matt played mostly second base in his first season, but mixed in a couple of games at the hot corner.
Batten started the 2018 season in what I’m sure was a disappointing circumstance for him. He was left off all the minor league full-season rosters and assigned to extended spring training in Arizona. When the Padres needed an extra player for their series against the Dodgers in Mexico, they called up shortstop Javy Guerra from Triple-A El Paso. That left a roster spot open in El Paso for.. Matt Batten?
After not playing a single game over short season in 2017, the first actual game Matt played in 2018 was in Triple-A. His stay in El Paso was short lived as Javy Guerra was sent back down after the Padres three-game series in Mexico. In the two games Matt appeared in he accumulated 10 plate appearances. He reached base in five of them, recording one hit and four walks.
After that, Batten was transferred to high-A Lake Elsinore. Matt appeared in 13 games for the Storm and amassed 47 plate appearances. In the short amount of time, his slash line was .341/.426/.390 for an OPS of .816. He recorded at least one hit in each of his first six games and in 10 of 13 games he appeared in. One of those games he came in as a defensive replacement and didn’t record a plate appearance.
Matt is currently in Double-A with the San Antonio Missions. He has now appeared in 14 games (three of those as a defensive replacement and didn’t record a plate appearance) and accumulated 41 plate appearances. His slash line is sitting at .278/.350/.417 for a .767 OPS. Batten has again played mostly second base in 2018, appearing in 11 games and starting 10 of them at the position. He has played eight games at shortstop, starting seven of them. He has been the designated hitter in three games.
While Batten hasn’t shown much power in his short career, hitting only two home runs, he has shown the ability to get on base. His career minor league slash line is currently .261/.359/.351 in 285 plate appearances. He has only attempted 10 stolen bases, being successful in eight of those. Not bad for a guy that was a 32nd round draft pick.
The Padres have had success developing late round draft picks in A.J. Preller’s tenure as general manager. You can point to Phil Maton, who was taken in the 20th round. Ty France, a 34th round pick, is currently starting in Double-A for the Missions and proving that he has some on-base ability himself. Matt Batten hasn’t had as much opportunity as some other players, but he certainly has made the most of the ones he’s received. I look forward to watching his career unfold.