The P-P-F of Colin Rea
In the 12th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, the San Diego Padres selected Colin Rea out of Indiana State University.
The 6-5, 205 pound right handed pitcher did not take a conventional route to the draft, but he made it nonetheless. Rea bounced around three colleges in as many years. His collegiate career started at the University of Northern Iowa in 2009, but the program was clipped due to budget cuts. This lead Rea to transfer to St. Petersburg Junior College for the 2010 season, before playing his final and junior season at ISU in 2011.
The intrigue doesn’t stop there.
Rea graduated high school in 2008 in the small town of Cascade, Iowa, where he was born and raised. According to the last U.S. Census, Cascade has a population that is smaller than some public high schools in San Diego (2,159).
Colin bounced around lower levels of single-A in the Padres system from 2012-14 and made his debut in AA San Antonio in 2015. He was dominant through 12 starts. With 75 innings pitched, he posted a 3-2 record with a 1.08 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. He only walked 11 batters, compared to striking out 60.
Rea’s success landed him in AAA El Paso for a brief stop. He started only six games before being called up to The Show, making his MLB debut on August 11, 2015 at Petco Park. His 2015 season ended after 6 starts for the Padres, posting a 2-2 record with a 4.26 ERA. Colin was shut down with elbow and forearm soreness, which the club called a precautionary move.
In a year’s time, Rea jumped from the Lake Elsinore single A squad all the way to the Padres rotation. With Opening Day looming in 2016, Colin still isn’t quite sure what uniform he will wear to start the year.
Currently, the 25-year-old Colin Rea seems poised to lock down one of the final rotation spots for the 2016 Padres season. He is rated as the 6th best Padres prospect by MLB.com and is the top rated pitcher within the system.
With Tyson Ross, James Shields, and Andrew Cashner as the top three dogs, and Brandon Maurer being sent to the pen full-time (thankfully), the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation are still up in the air with less than one week to go before game one. Rea is one of the candidates along with Robbie Erlin, Drew Pomeranz, and even a health-abiding Brandon Morrow.
So far, Rea looks the part. Coming into spring training, he added about 20 lbs of muscle (now standing 6-5, 230 lbs) and has looked noticeably bigger, especially in his lower half. “It gives me a good solid base and more stability…it’s less stress on your arm if your legs are stronger” Rea said.
New Padres skipper Andy Green has had high praise for Rea this spring:
I love his poise. On the mound he’s not afraid of anything or anybody…He fires four pitches very consistently for strikes…He’s a guy that’s doing absolutely everything possible to earn a spot in our rotation right now. And if the timing’s right, I expect to see him there.
To be blunt, the Padres pitching depth throughout the ranks is weak.
A couple of other pitchers that rank in the top 10 of Padres’ system along with Colin Rea, that could possibly crack the rotation are Austin Smith and Logan Allen. However, both of those players are multiple years away from being Major League ready. Leaving Rea as the lone “prospect” to be able to contribute in the foreseeable future.
I would expect to see Colin Rea as a central figure in the rotation for years to come, as he is under team control through 2022. He may find himself as a go to starter heading into spring training of 2017.
Consider: Cashner is a free agent in 2017. Tyson Ross hits free agency in 2018. James Shields could be traded at any given moment (literally), even though he is under team control through 2018 with a team option for 2019.
Who knows if any of those three mentioned are on the team next year. It is not a given with A.J. Preller at the helm. Cashner isn’t one of his guys, and could very well be on the move by the deadline this season. By the end of Ross’ contract, he could be very expensive to retain. Trading Ross would be a huge bummer to fans, but it might be the best option instead of losing him with nothing in return.
Though the future of Padres’ pitching is filled with variables and uncertainty, Colin Rea appears poised to become a constant.