Set to return from Tommy John in time for minor league spring training, RHP Chris Paddack is this week’s San Diego Padres prospect spotlight. Paddack put up truly eye-popping numbers through his first two professional seasons. What type of prospect do the Padres have in Paddack if he can successfully return from injury?
Every Friday beginning today, we’ll take some time to highlight a different San Diego Padres’ prospect. The purpose of this series is to shed light on lesser-known prospects in the Padres’ farm system, from El Paso to the Arizona League and even Dominican Summer League
Not every prospect is a Fernando Tatis, Jr. or MacKenzie Gore. San Diego fields eight minor league teams that are full of players who are grinding it out on a daily basis. Most, unfortunately, will fail to reach their ultimate goal of playing in the major leagues. Less than 10% of minor league players will earn the opportunity to play in a big league park.
Today’s prospect spotlight has a high probability of making a name for himself at the major league level. Let’s take a look at San Diego Padres RHP Chris Paddack.
Chris Paddack Finds His Way To The San Diego Padres.
Originally committed to Texas A&M University, Paddack was selected by the Miami Marlins in the eighth round of the 2015 MLB draft. To pull him away from his commitment, the Marlins paid Paddack double his slot value. The $400,000 signing bonus proved to be enough to sway the 18-year-old.
Seen by many as a first or second-round pick, Paddack fell due to signability concerns. Since making his professional debut, he’s pitched like a first-round talent.
The Marlins sent Paddack to the Gulf Coast League where he pitched 45 innings, working a 2.18 ERA. More impressively, he ended rookie-ball with a 39/7 K/BB ratio, a 0.97 WHIP, and allowed opposing batters to hit just .219 off him.
His second season in the minors got off to a late start. Bicep tendonitis limited Paddack to just six starts (0.95 ERA, 0.39 WHIP, 0.98 OBA) with the Greensboro Grasshoppers of the South Atlantic League before being traded to the Padres.
San Diego Padres
In return for Paddack, the Padres shipped off then-closer, Fernando Rodney. Rodney was 17/17 in save opportunities at the time and had the lowest ERA in MLB. A.J. Preller received maximum value for a closing pitcher who had no future plans with the team.
What will be Paddack’s role in the San Diego Padres when he returns?
Paddack’s time on the mound in the Padres’ system was short-lived before he was forced to have Tommy John surgery.
He pitched just 14 innings for Fort Wayne. During that time, he owned a 23/3 K/BB ratio, a 0.64 ERA, and a 1.00 WHIP. What’s more impressive about his 2016 performance with Miami and San Diego is that he was just 19-years old. The average age of players in full-season A-ball is 22-23.
After missing all of 2017, Paddack is expected to begin the 2018 season in minor league training camp this month. Hopefully, he will be worked back in very slowly. The amount of pitching depth affords the Padres this luxury.
His fastball is a potential plus-pitch that sits at 91-92 mph. It does have good movement, a slight cut-action which he uses on both sides of the plate. His best pitch is his changeup. A potential plus-plus pitch, Fangraphs grades the off-speed offering at a 65.
It’s the curveball that gives Paddack the most trouble. Nowhere near major league ready, this could be the deciding factor as to whether he’s a bullpen piece or a member of the starting rotation. He will need that third pitch to reach his projected ceiling, a back-end of the rotation starter.
Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel highlighted Paddack last week on Fangraphs. They believe that “without surgery, he likely would’ve posted strong enough numbers to appear on the actual Top 100.”
Even if he only develops into a high-strikeout bullpen pitcher, the trade for him would be counted as a solid win for San Diego. Keep following for updates throughout the year on Paddack’s return to the mound.