Christian Villanueva spent much of the decade as a promising prospect in first the Rangers' and then the Cubs' system. But as he approached the majors, Villanueva was first blocked by Kris Bryant and then, last year, hampered by a season-ending broken leg. The Padres signed Villanueva as a free agent, and he rewarded them by destroying opposing pitchers in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Villanueva significantly improved upon his first Triple-A stint back in 2015, as he showed improved plate discipline and power. He was explosive in 12 games for the big club, too, as he mashed four homers and a double over just 32 at-bats. The Padres have a few options at third base, including Cory Spangenberg and Chase Headley, but with a strong spring training, Villanueva could force his way into the Opening Day mix.
Villanueva started at third and went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in Tuesday's loss to the Dodgers. The rookie has now homered an impressive four times through nine games. It is even more eye-opening when you consider Villanueva started just five of those nine contests. The 26-year-old slugged .528 in 108 games with Triple-A El Paso this season, so his power appears to be the real deal. Villanueva still hasn't officially earned an everyday role (he came off the bench Monday), but his power production makes his bat worthwhile in deeper formats even if he continues to reside on the short side of a platoon at the hot corner.
Villanueva went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in Sunday's 8-4 loss to Colorado. Villanueva has flashed his power since joining the majors Sept. 18, homering three times in as many starts over the Padres' last five games. Sunday's long ball was notable, as it came in a start against a right-hander after the rookie appeared to be on the short side of a platoon with Cory Spangenberg at third base. Manager Andy Green shuffled the lineup -- as he has regularly since rosters expanded this month -- and was able to fit both players onto the lineup card. It would behoove the Padres to get a good look at Villanueva in the final week of the season, and fantasy owners in need of some pop should follow suit.
Villanueva went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI in Thursday's 3-0 win over the Rockies. Villanueva followed his first career homer Wednesday with an encore performance Thursday. The 26-year-old has started three of the Padres' last four games -- all against southpaws -- but he could begin receiving starts against righties following his strong major-league debut. He's worth a flyer for power in deeper formats in the event he can carve out an everyday role.
Villanueva went 2-for-4 with his first major-league home run in Wednesday's loss to the Diamondbacks. The 26-year-old rookie appears to be platooning with Cory Spangenberg at the hot corner, starting two of the three games since his callup, both against southpaws. Villanueva slashed a healthy .296/.369/.528 in 108 games with Triple-A El Paso this season, so there is some power potential to be had if he plays his way into a larger role.
Villanueva was non-tendered by the Cubs on Friday and is now a free agent, the Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales reports. The 25-year-old third baseman was in a pretty awful situation with the Cubs, as he was not only blocked at the big league level by Kris Bryant and even Javier Baez, but a superior big league ready third base prospect was also waiting in the wings ahead of him on the organizational depth chart in Jeimer Candelario. Villanueva is essentially ready for a shot with a non-contender. After hitting 18 homers and making a lot of contact at Triple-A last year, he is likely to be given a chance to make another club, even if it is only in a bench role.