The sky is the limit for San Diego Padres’ right-handed pitcher, Chris Paddack. The young hurler has plenty of potential on the mound and has already shown dominance at the minor league level. He will be fun to watch.
It was a meteoric rise for Chris Paddack in 2018, as the 22-year-old had a season to remember. After coming back from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander dominated at both the High-A and Double-A levels before being shut down due to an innings limit.
His numbers need no explaining. In 90 innings, Paddack compiled a combined ERA of 2.10 with a WHIP of 0.82 and struck out 120 while walking a minuscule eight batters. He was particularly dominant at Lake Elsinore, posting a K/9 rate of 14.27 with a BB/9 rate of 0.69, while a FIP of 1.79 and an xFIP of 1.77 suggest that he was even better than what his ERA (2.24) states.
This is why the Padres challenged him with a move to Double-A San Antonio, and he took the promotion in stride, posting superb strikeout numbers (8.84 K/9 vs 0.96 BB/9) and compiling an excellent 1.91 ERA. Paddack backed up the excellent ERA with a 0.72 WHIP as well a 2.31 FIP.
His season led to him to rise higher in the prospect rankings than a weed. After being ranked number 27 in 2017, Paddack has jumped up to the fifth spot on MLB Pipelines Top 30 Padres Prospects. Pipeline also ranked him in not only their Top 100 prospects, but slotted him in at #48, one spot ahead of Adrian Morejon.
Paddack accomplished all of this with a deadly two-pitch combo, with a fastball that can be ramped up to 98 MPH, while his changeup has been described as “double-plus” with late tumbling action. However, his curveball, while improving, still needs some work, but is still a reliable pitch in his arsenal. Refinement of his curveball could elevate him into an even deadlier force on the mound and could elevate his status from a number three or four starter to an ace.
With his excellent curveball, Paddack has the potential to be a Cole Hamels-esque pitcher, or better. The current Chicago Cubs pitcher and four-time MLB All-Star was feared for his magnificent changeup during his time with the Philadelphia Phillies, and it certainly helped him throw a no-hitter in 2015 against the same Cubs franchise for whom he plays for today. Paddack also possesses an excellent changeup that, when combined with his tenacity on the mound, strikes a certain type of fear that Hamels could never muster into the hearts of major league batters.
Paddack does have to be added to the 40-man roster come the Rule 5 Draft, but he is all but a lock to be added on. While he may not start the season with the Padres, he is a candidate to receive an invitation to spring training. Much like Joey Luchessi did last season, Paddack could find himself on the cusp of making his major league debut in the 2019 season, but will most likely find himself in Triple-A El Paso, working on refining his third pitch and overall durability.
The hitter-friendly PCL league is an excellent place for Paddack to test his mettle. He will have the rest of the offseason to perfect his craft to make not only a jump in the prospect rankings, but a jump to the majors. It is no surprise that the Tampa Bay Rays desired him to be included in a potential trade for Chris Archer (a trade that AJ Preller wisely declined on). For the price of Fernando Rodney Jr, Preller found himself a pitcher who, if all the chips fall in the right places, can be the ace that San Diego hasn’t seen since the days of Jake Peavy.