With their third pick (91st overall) of the 2010 MLB Draft, the Padres tabbed Northeast Texas Community College righthander Zack Cates, a 20-year-old power arm.
Cates is a converted catcher who sits consistently at 91-93 mph and touches 94. He has a changeup with impressive speed separation and fade in the 78-79 mph range. He doesn’t have too much of a breaking ball yet, but hey, he’s a recent convert to pitching and already has two plus pitches? Sounds good to me.
Cates looks to have pretty solid mechanics and a durable 6’3″, 200-pound frame with even more projection. He’s a guy who looks to project as a solid starter or shutdown reliever in the majors if everything breaks right.
Cates went 7-2 with a 2.54 ERA this year with Northeast Texas. He struck out 91 and walked 32 in 67 1/3 innings. That walk rate is a bit high and will need to be monitored, but the strikeout rate is certainly as impressive as the scouting reports.
Cates is the Padres’ first pick that didn’t get that much predraft hype, but as sleepers go, he looks quite solid.