The Padres’ top prospect sure knows how to make an entrance. In his first at-bat at Petco Park, Abrams launched an opposite-field home run, giving San Diego a 4-0 lead over Atlanta in Thursday’s home opener.
Braves right-hander Charlie Morton tried to sneak a fastball over the outside corner, and Abrams was ready for it. He used his remarkably quick hands to shoot a liner into the second row in left field, 101 mph off his bat.
“I had a feeling it was gone,” Abrams said. “I didn’t know if I hit it high enough. But I got it pretty good.”
When Abrams returned to the dugout, a sellout Petco Park crowd chanted his name. He promptly emerged on the top step for a curtain call, which received a raucous ovation.
Abrams, a childhood Braves fan who starred at Blessed Trinity High School (12 miles from Truist Park), made a small bit of Padres history in the process. He became the first player to hit his first career home run in his first at-bat at Petco Park during the team’s home opener.
Not a bad start for the 21-year-old rookie. Abrams, of course, was only included on the Padres’ Opening Day roster because Fernando Tatis Jr. is on the injured list with a fractured left wrist. The Padres, in need of a shortstop, told Abrams to win the job in Spring Training. And, sure enough, he won it.
“You put all the work in, and it pays off,” Abrams said.
There were questions about whether Abrams could handle big league pitching, and he’d struggled a bit on the team’s opening road trip. But he was solid defensively and had worked a few walks, despite his 1-for-14 start. Then, in his first home at-bat, Abrams made a statement.
“Whether it’s defensively, timely hitting or eventually on the bases, he can win you a game in a lot of different ways,” said Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer. “The type of competitor he is, he’s not going to be happy with where his statline is right now. But he’s been helping us win a lot of ballgames.”
Power certainly wasn’t Abrams’ calling card when he became the team’s top overall selection in the 2019 MLB Draft. He boasts elite speed and excellent bat-to-ball skills. His glove is steady in the middle of the infield, too. But the Padres said all along that they expected Abrams to grow into some power.
Then, in his first trip to the plate in his new home ballpark, Abrams launched an easy opposite-field blast – surely, the first of many times that Abrams will wow the Petco Park crowd.
“The fans here are different from anywhere else,” Abrams said. “They’re amazing. I love San Diego. It was a blast.”