Hodgetown- Amarillo, Texas
Just as Patino arrived in Texas, Gore was shut down due to an innings limit set by the organization. He could return around playoff time though. Amarillo fans were reasonably disappointed, only getting to see two starts at Hodgetown from the number one left-handed pitching prospect in baseball. However, the presence of Patino will ease the pain of the absence of Gore.
The 19-year old Patino showed Sod Poodle fans that they have something to look forward to the rest of the season. Amarillo had to finish a game from last night before, winning in extra innings. After that, it was Patino’s stage, and he took advantage coming out firing. In the first inning alone, Patino threw 14 pitches (12 strikes) over 96 mph, using the final pitch (97 mph) to collect his first strikeout and finish his first Double-A inning.
That strikeout was the first of seven on the night, with six coming from his aforementioned fastball and the other coming off his slider. In the second inning, Patino threw only fastballs to the Rockhounds. Midland hitters saw 13 consecutive fastballs averaging 95 mph in the inning alone. The newest Sod Poodle struck out a pair of Rockhounds in the frame, one of which is second basemen Dan Gamache who only saw six pitches in two at-bats against Patino, striking out both times.
In the third Patino ran into trouble for the first time, after a pair of hits put runners in scoring position for Midland with one out. After throwing a fastball 76% of the time at the time of giving up the double, Patino flipped the script and attacked with an entire at-bat of offspeed pitches. Rockhounds first basemen, Edwin Diaz, did not see a fastball with two runners in scoring position but saw four sliders and a curveball instead before Patino sat him down. With two down Patino went back to the fastball on three straight pitches (96/97/96) to retire Rockhounds outfielder Tyler Ramirez. “Ramirez is known for having quick hands to the baseball,” Amarillo pitching coach Jimmy Jones said, “So when I saw that at-bat it showed me that his fastball was difficult to see.” After the double, the Rockhounds did not make contact the rest of the inning, as Patino generated four swinging strikes in the last eight pitches of the frame.
Despite getting through his first test in the game, Patino wasn’t out of the woods yet. Midland led off the fourth inning with a double, putting another runner in scoring position. Outfielder Mikey McDonald ripped a rare Patino curveball to center driving the runner in with a single. After giving up, his first Double-A earned run the native Columbian didn’t flinch when responding, producing a flyout and groundout to end the frame with nine consecutive strikes thrown. “He just got the ball and took it one pitch at a time, which at 19 years old that’s pretty impressive.” Jones said of Patino, “He very easily could have gotten frustrated, but he understood that he still had a job to do and he did it.”
Luis Patiño’s last at bat
Flat out just blew it by them.
— Austin Hartsfield (@HartsfieldMLB) August 14, 2019
If the previous two innings were a test for Patino, then the fifth inning was an exam. Going into the inning the right-hander had attacked the zone all night, tossing 84% (16/19) first-pitch strikes, but in the fifth, he couldn’t find the zone enough only leading with a strike once in five batters faced. This allowed Midland to take pitches and drive Patino’s pitch count up. Patino retired the first two batters in the inning, including his seventh strikeout of the game with a 96 mph fastball on pitch number 83 on the night.
Things quickly changed when the Padres prospect walked Diaz, and Ramirez singled to center in back to back at-bats. Midland now had the go-ahead run at the plate in a 3-1 ballgame with two outs. The following at-bat would end the right-handers debut, as he walked his second batter of the inning (four in total) and that brought Wellman to the top step to go the bullpen. Patino departed after four and two thirds with only one earned run. Unfortunately, Patino left the bases loaded for Carlos Belen, who would allow all of the runners that he inherited to score, closing the book on the prospect for the night.
As far as pitch selection Patino threw a total of 99 pitches: 61 fastballs, 21 sliders, 12 changeups, and five curveballs. “I felt good when it was my changeup and slider. That slider is my best secondary pitch,” Patino said. The right-hander had this to say about his slider- “Like I said the change felt really good. I need to keep working on my curveball and using it earlier in counts.”
With only five curveballs throughout the entire outing, Patino threw all five in the first 63 pitches. After the last one to McDonald that scored Midland’s first run, but after that hit Patino didn’t throw another curve the entire outing, spanning a total of 36 pitches. “I’m working every day so that I have the confidence to throw those pitches in any count.” Patino said about his offspeed pitches, “I learned a lot today. It’s a different level, different hitters, but you still go out to compete and try and do what I can to be the best on the mound. So overall felt really good tonight and I’m ready to do it again the next time through the rotation.”