The starting rotation for the San Diego Padres is in desperate need of some assistance. Is there a sleeper arm in El Paso that could help get the team through 2018?
Let’s start with the positives, Joey Lucchesi. Through his first four starts, the San Diego Padres rookie is striking out 30% of hitters he’s faced while walking just under 4%. Fans, local media, and even national media have become fascinated with his “churve” pitch which has opposing batters baffled.
Dinelson Lamet is done for the season, and possibly part of next season, and Luis Perdomo was just demoted to AAA El Paso to work through his struggles. Manager Andy Green needs to make a decision on who replaces Perdomo in the rotation soon. One name that hasn’t been thrown around is El Paso Chihuahuas RHP, Chris Huffman.
Who is Chris Huffman?
Huffman, 25, is a native of Fort Defiance, Virginia and one of only two Fort Defiance High School baseball players ever to be drafted by a Major League Baseball team. The other draftee, Dell Curry, father of Golden State Warriors’ mega-star, Steph Curry.
The Padres selected Huffman in the 14th round of the 2014 MLB draft out of James Madison University. Despite a distance of over 2,500 miles between San Diego, California and Harrisonburg, Virginia, the Padres have a history of drafting players from the Colonial Athletic Association school.
In 2007, the Padres selected JMU outfielder Kellen Kulbacki in the 1st round of the draft. He played four seasons, working his up to Double-A San Antonio before injuries forced him to call it a career.
Here’s one of his more memorable plays, crashing into an open door in San Antonio.
As for Chris Huffman, he’s currently in the starting rotation for the El Paso Chihuahuas and pitching very well.
Through three starts, Huffman is 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He’s averaging just a tick over six innings per start, striking out 13 and walking only four in 18.2 frames.
Huffman has been a workhorse in the Padres’ system since joining the franchise. He’s pitched at every level in the minors, compiling 420 innings and a career 3.41 ERA.
The book on Chris Huffman.
Evaluators have consistently stated that Huffman does not possess the right stuff to stick in the major leagues. Huffman’s response? Silence the critics.
It’s true, he doesn’t own over-powering pitches. With the launch-angle revolution in full force, some of the more successful pitchers in the bigs have been those that can utilize their command and movement instead of relying on blazing fastballs.
Huffman owns the bottom of the strike zone, routinely hitting his spots with his 89-91 mph fastball and a sweeping slider. His changeup has been described as “below average” but workable due to his sequencing and placement.
By limiting line-drive contact and keeping his groundball and in-field fly rate higher than average, Huffman has found success at each and every stop in the Padres’ system.
With the unbelievable amount of high-level pitching prospects in Major League Baseball’s top farm system, Chris Huffman faces a steep climb if he wants to break through with the Padres. Fellow prospect Eric Lauer is the favorite to get the call-up this weekend, however, Padres’ fans should keep an eye on Huffman.
The James Madison University product could contribute as a spot-starter/long-relief option out of the pen. With San Diego’s bullpen getting taxed very early on, they will need more arms. They have one in Chris Huffman.