There are many ways for teams to achieve success in baseball.
Throughout the years, having a high quality pitching staff has been the biggest constant in regards to success. Sure, your team can put up a billion runs per game, but high quality pitching will always triumph in the end. Some of the most recent baseball dynasties, like the Giants for the past decade, have had incredible pitching staffs to go along with a pitiful offense, but have still found a lot of success. It isn’t a huge surprise that a team with one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball the last few seasons, the Padres, have finished towards the bottom of the league year after year.
However, that will change shortly. This previous year, we saw Dinelson Lamet burst onto the big stage, impressing in almost all of his major league starts. The Padres’ pitching staff also featured young talents Luis Perdomo and Phil Maton, and although both are still raw products, the potential to be quality pitchers is clearly there. The team also has incredible pitching talent below the big league level, as baseball analysts across the country rave at how loaded the Padres’ pitching staff is with young talent.
The biggest knock about the Padres is that all of their high level pitching talent is just simply not ready to make an impact at the big league level. For the time being, the Padres have been forced to sign veteran pitchers to eat up innings until their young guns are ready to make the leap to the major leagues.
This may not be the case in 2018. Recently extended left-hander Clayton Richard is almost a lock to be in the starting rotation come next spring. Stellar rookie Dinelson Lamet will likely join him, and if the Padres can resign Jhoulys Chacin, on a team friendly contract of course, you can almost guarantee that he will be there as well. Assuming that Luis Perdomo is not a lock in this scenario, the final two rotational spots should be up for grabs. Sure, AJ Preller may go out and make some moves this offseason, but for the time being, let’s just look at things the way they are.
In the 12th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft, the San Diego Padres selected Colin Rea, a 6’5” right-handed pitcher out of Indiana State university. At the time, Rea looked to be a promising prospect with great extension and quality command of his pitches. While Rea hasn’t really had success at both the minor and major league level, there is still some upside there.
To me, Rea does not project well as a starter, but he has good enough stuff to potentially achieve success as a middle reliever. The biggest key for Rea will be this: can he recover from a rough elbow injury that sidelined him for an entire season last year? If a full recovery is made, we may see Rea pitch at Petco Park some time next season. Whether it be out of the bullpen or possibly even as a starter, Rea will surely look to have a positive impact on the Padres at some point next year.
Another young pitcher that will look to make an impact on the Padres next season will be left-hander Robbie Erlin. Erlin, a third round draft pick by the Texas Rangers, was sent to the Padres in the Mike Adams trade in 2011. In my opinion, Erlin has as a higher chance to be an impact player than Colin Rea, if given the chance. The 27-year-old lefty has a low 90’s fastball that is matched with an outstanding curveball and above average changeup.
Similar to Rea, the knock on Erlin is that he has had trouble staying healthy. Diagnosed with a torn UCL on May 3rd, 2016, Erlin had to have Tommy John surgery, sidelining him for the entire 2016 season. He was then placed on the 60-day disabled list this previous season due to another flare up in his left elbow. Erlin has a ton of potential, and to me he seems like he could actually compete for a rotational spot barring any setbacks from his elbow. Unlike Rea, I would project Erlin to be more of a starter than a reliever. His stuff can be so good when he is on, however I can also see him having success in a bullpen role. Erlin should be a player to keep an eye out for if he ends up making the 40-man roster as a sneaky impact type of guy for the Padres next season.
As informed fans of the Padres, we should clearly keep our eyes open for news on both Rea and Erlin, especially if they stay healthy. Both of these players should be followed thoroughly through spring training, and how they perform is certainly worth noting. Hopefully, both Rea and Erlin can have a positive impact that will lead to the Padres having success in 2018.
Diego works at Prep Baseball Report as an Area Scout in Illinois and Missouri. He graduated this spring with a Bachelor Degree in Communications and played four years of college baseball, logging nearly 50 innings of work in a relief role. Diego hopes to work in an MLB front office one day and has been a Padres fan since he was six years old.