Prospects get opportunity in split-squad games

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Minor League outfielder Jeremy Baltz, a second-round Draft pick in 2012, has been in Arizona for a week, participating in the team's annual prospect mini-camp.

But instead of another day filled with drills, Baltz got a huge surprise when he arrived at his locker on Wednesday.

Hanging inside Baltz's locker was a Padres' jersey; a big league jersey, one intended to be worn during Cactus League games here.

"I didn't know what that meant," Baltz said.

Baltz and a handful of Minor League prospects suited up for a pair of split-squad games Wednesday, and some of them played in games against the A's in Phoenix and Rockies in Peoria.

One of those players was Baltz, who made a nice running catch in left field in the very first inning after he was inserted into the game.

"I was nervous. My stomach had butterflies all day," Baltz said. "It was a great experience. Hopefully it will happen again."

Baltz, outfielders Travis Jankowski, Rico Noel and infielders Cory Spangenberg and Jace Peterson played in the loss to the Rockies.

Jankowski, who was the 44th overall selection in 2012, got a hit in his first at-bat, beating out an infield single against Rockies reliever Miguel Batista, 42, who is twice the age of Jankowski.

He didn't stay at first base long, as he promptly stole second base. He also struck out in his second at-bat of the game. Results aside, Jankowski was just happy to play.

"Around the fifth inning, the coaches told me to start warming up," Jankowski said. "But for the first couple of innings, I thought it might be a day to take it all in from the dugout."

On Thursday, Jankowski and the rest of his Minor League teammates were back in mini-camp, working on drills on the back fields, far from the Peoria Sports Complex. There's a chance manager Bud Black might use them again this spring, especially with a longer spring because of the World Baseball Classic.

"That was the first time I've been on the field since September seeing live pitching," Jankowski said. "It was a great atmosphere and I learned a lot from it. I guess there's no better time to do it than with the big leaguers."