Padres News: Colin Rea Unhittable Since Return From the DL

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A lot of times when players get injured, it takes them a game or two to get back on track. Colin Rea didn’t need anytime after returning from the DL to get back to dominating hitters in AA. Before landing on the DL with back spasms, Rea had pitched to a 1.36 ERA in 52 innings with San Antonio, but since his return he’s tossed 16 scoreless innings.

The streak began on June 13th with four perfect innings against the Corpus Chirsti Hooks. That was followed by five scoreless five days later, and then they finally let him off his leash and he tossed seven shutout innings last Tuesday.

This incredible stretch, coupled with his strong start to the season, earned him a spot this years Futures Game. He will be the only Padres representative in Cincinnati for the Futures Game, but the honor is much deserved. Among qualified pitchers in the Texas League he has the lowest ERA and FIP as well as walk percentage and is fourth in strikeout percentage. When he’s been on the mound, he’s been far and away the best pitcher in the Texas League and is very deserving of the honor of representing the U.S. in the Futures Game.

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The 24 year old right features four pitches, a fastball, a cutter, a curveball and a changeup. His fastball is his best pitch, but the cutter isn’t far behind, while his curveball and changeup are currently below average. He’s seen an uptick in his velocity this year which has led to the improvement in his fastball. He can now throw it up to 96 MPH and keep it in the low 90’s deep into ball games. The cutter sits around the high 80’s, and plays well off of his fastball. The curve and the changeup both need a lot of work if he is to succeed at the next level, but the fact that he already has two plus pitches is an encouraging sign. Walks had always been a problem for Rea, but it seems like he’s started to figure that out. His first three years in the minors he posted a walk rate of 4.8 walks per nine innings. Last season he got it all the way down to 2.4 and so far this year it’s 1.5. Meanwhile he’s maintained his strikeout rate leading to a huge increase of his strikeout to walk ratio, which was just over 1 each of his first three seasons and now it is at 5.0.

With all of this success this year, you have to start wondering about his immediate future. With his birthday coming up, July 1st, a nice present would be a promotion to AAA El Paso. While he certainly sounds ready for the call up, there is reason to give him some more time. First off, this is his first season at AA, and 68 innings, albeit great innings, is a pretty small sample size. Also the PCL is a very hitter friendly league and if he’s not fully ready for the challenge of the next level, getting shelled in the tiny PCL parks could kill all of the confidence he’s built up in 2015. That being said MLB.com lists his ETA as 2015 and with Brandon Morrow out for the foreseeable future and Ian Kennedy‘s struggles a spot in the rotation could be opening up. If the Padres believe Rea could be the guy to fill that spot then they should get him as much experience at AAA as they can.

Rea is scheduled to take the mound tomorrow in San Antonio to face the Midland Rock Hounds. He’s faced them twice already this year tossing eight scoreless one hit innings with twelve strikeouts and five shutout innings allowing four hits while striking out three in the second one. While there’s likely been some roster turnover, it’s clear that he’s dominated the Rock Hound hitters and they seem like the perfect team to face for Rea to continue his scoreless streak.

Next: The Matt Kemp Leadoff Experiment

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