After signing earlier this month to a minor league deal worth $1 million dollars, all it took was two starts for Odrisamer Despaigne to convince his organization that he’s ready to be an El Paso Chihuahua. Over his first couple of starts, he accumulated 7.2 innings with a 1.17 ERA and 2.22 FIP. He struck out 12 of the 32 batters faced (37.5%) but also walked 5 (15.6%). He managed to hold batters to a .142 batting average.
Despaigne defected from Cuba during a tournament in Europe last summer, and he’s impressed the Padres’ front office in his short time over. Vice president of player development had this to say about him:
"“He threw well in his two starts for San Antonio, mixing all of his pitches from varied arm angles. We felt that he was ready for another challenge against more experienced hitters.”"
Despaigne can ramp up his fastball to 94 mph, but what separates him from the average prospect is his ability to control a wide array of breaking pitches. He has a big, long curveball, a tight slider, and his change-up is already major league-ready. He uses a high leg kick and different arm slots to help play up his pitches and to get inside hitter’s heads. His funky mechanics create good deception, and were inspired by his idol, Orlando Hernandez. Despaigne, when asked about how he looks up to his hero, responded with:
"“I hope I can have half the career that [Orlando Hernandez] had, because he’s been my idol since I was a child, but like him, I throw from a lot of different angles.”"
Overall, scouts see his stuff as average, but a good feel for pitchability. There’s plenty of pitchers who can use the recipe for success, and the future for Despaigne is bright. He’s going to spend more time in El Paso than he did in San Antonio, but he’s not too far away from the beautiful night sky in San Diego.