Colin Rea’s Rapid Rise to the Majors

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Coming into 2015 Colin Rea was on no one’s radar. He was 12th round pick from 2011 who had just posted a 3.88 ERA in high A. While he had shown enough promise to start the year in AA, nobody could have known that he was going to have the kind of season he’s had so far. Now he’s preparing to make his major league debut Tuesday night against the Reds.

So how did Rea make this massive jump from decent A ball pitcher to a major leaguer? It all started in San Antonio. Rea started his 2015 season with the Padres AA affiliate, the San Antonio Missions. In his very first start of the year he tossed 7 scoreless innings against the Tulsa Drillers, and from there he didn’t look back. He made 12 starts with the Missions going 3-2 and posting an ERA of 1.08 while striking out 7.2 batters per 9 innings and walking just 1.3. This performance earned him a chance to represent the USA in this years Futures Game where he closed out a 10-1 victory.

Rea would then move on up to AAA with the El Paso Chihuahuas. The Chihuahuas play in the Pacific Coast League which is notorious for its small parks in hitter friendly environments. His first start was a disaster. He gave up 5 runs on 6 hits while walking 4 in 2 1/3 innings , but in his 5 starts since he’s pitched to a 2.96 ERA. Those 5 starts are what proved to the Padres that he’s ready for the next level.

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As for his arsenal, Rea features a fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup. Currently his fastball and cutter are his only plus pitches, while his curveball and changeup lag behind. He can get his fastball up to 96 MPH, but for the most part he’ll sit in the low 90’s with his cutter just a few ticks slower. He’ll need to have a reliable third pitch if he wants to have sustained success at the big league level, but for now he should be able to get by while still developing his curveball and changeup.

This will be an important couple months for Rea and the Padres. For Rea, it’s a chance to prove he’s worthy of a rotation spot in 2016. For the Padres, it gives them an idea of what they have in Rea going into the off-season with Ian Kennedy hitting free agency, Odrisamer Despaigne being largely ineffective as a starter and Brandon Morrow‘s injuries and impending free agency. Also with the trade rumors surrounding Tyson Ross, James Shields and Andrew Cashner, who knows who will be here on Opening Day of next year. This audition will give Rea, the Padres and the fans an indication if he’s ready to be a reliable big league pitcher.

Next: James Shields Clears Waivers

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