At the time, Rodney was having a phenomenal season and the Marlins acquired him in order to bolster a weakened bullpen as they were looking to make a playoff push. The Padres would command a decent return, based on Rodney´s success at the time, and would acquire the right-handed pitcher, who was highly regarded in the Marlins’ system.
Paddack, 19 at the time, was having a great season with the Marlins’ Single-A team, posting a 0.95 ERA in six starts with a 2-0 record matched with 48 strikeouts to only two walks. He would continue this dominance when he became a member of the Fort Wayne TinCaps. In three starts, Paddack posted a 0.64 ERA with 23 strikeouts and only three walks.
Clearly, Paddack looked to be a very promising prospect. When Rodney began to struggle, it started to become clear that the Padres had in a way robbed the Marlins and that Paddack was slowly becoming someone to keep your eyes on. Unfortunately, Paddack suffered a torn UCL and was headed straight for Tommy John surgery.
Prior to his injury, Chris Paddack had a nice pitching arsenal. His fastball sits in the lower to middle 90’s with good movement and is commanded well. He also brings a changeup that is already considered above-average and gives Paddack a true second pitch. His curveball has a sharp, late break to it and Paddack had made significant improvements to this pitch prior to his injury. He has a big frame (6´4¨), and this allows him to get good extension resulting in more strikes thrown.
So the question really is: Can Chris Paddack return to what he once was before his injury?
The answer: Of course he can.
We have seen plenty of pitchers return from Tommy John surgery and be the same as they once were, or in some cases, better. Paddack has more in the tank, and his fastball velocity can surely improve to consistently sit at 94-96 mph. His changeup, already an advanced pitch, can and will become elite if Paddack can get a better feel to it. His curveball will just need to be thrown more so he can become confident in himself to throw it consistently, and especially for strikes. This gives Chris Paddack the potential to have three major league-ready pitches by the time that he finishes his 2018 campaign.
The biggest concern for Chris Paddack is if he can stay healthy. Obviously his elbow injury will always loom over him and cause many evaluators and developers to second-guess Paddack because the potential for him to get hurt is clearly there. I think that the Padres did a great job having Paddack sit the entirety of the 2017 campaign (despite some bullpen sessions late in the year) in hopes that he can be at full health for 2018. The organization will slowly ease him back into the grind that is professional baseball and we should see Paddack pitching every five days sooner rather than later.
The upside for this kid is tremendous. He really has the talent and the stuff to be a very successful pitcher at every level, including the big leagues. Things will take time, however, especially with as serious of an injury as he suffered. However, Paddack should be able to start 2018 on a good note and continue to impress scouts and fans like he was before. Keep an eye open for Chris Paddack next season as he is an incredible talent that should not be forgotten about.