Luis Patino will get opportunities with Padres

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Newly signed right-handed pitcher Luis Patino will get opportunities with the San Diego Padres in 2024.

The Padres need pitching for the upcoming season, and an old friend may be just what the doctor ordered.

With Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo, and Nick Martinez signed elsewhere and Blake Snell surely to follow them out of town, the Padres will need several pitchers to emerge in the coming season. The Padres did acquire four pitchers from the Yankees in the Juan Soto deal, and each is expected to pay dividends in 2024 for San Diego.

This group of pitchers from New York will help soften the blow of losing all those veterans. However, there is no guarantee that they will be successful.

The Padres simply need more pitching. It cannot be understated.

Thankfully, the White Sox exposed former Padres farmhand Luis Patino to waivers, and San Diego snapped him up.

The right-handed pitcher was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays in December 2020 with Blake Hunt, Francisco Mejia, and Cole Wilcox for Blake Snell. The Padres packaged the group of young players and traded them to Tampa for the former AL Cy Young Award-winner.

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In Tampa, Luis Patino never really got his feet under him at the major league level. In 2021, he went 5-3 with a 4.31 ERA, a 1.267 WHIP in 19 games, and a 77.1 innings pitched. He struck out 74 batters in that time but allowed 12 homers and recorded a walk rate of 3.4 batters per nine innings.

The last few years were a battle for the young pitcher as he went up and down from Triple-A to the major league club. In August, the White Sox purchased Luis Patino’s contract from the Rays. He produced a solid 3.57 ERA in seven games and 17.2 innings pitched for the Sox to close out the 2023 season. Chicago exposed the pitcher to waivers, and the Padres did not hesitate to file a claim.

Luis Patino will indeed be given an opportunity to earn playing time with the major league team this spring. There is an outside chance that the Colombian pitcher could get some innings in the rotation. Anything can really happen at this point. The Padres will be giving opportunities to several young pitchers.

If the Padres can harness his control issues, they may be able to salvage Patino as a starter.

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In 2019, I caught up with Luis Patino in Lake Elsinore. We talked about the game of baseball and how he developed his talent. The most prevalent thing I took away from my time with Patino is the energy he brings to the ballpark. His infectious smile and his necessity to work hard shall take him far in the game of baseball.

You must remember that he is still relatively new to pitching. The 24-year-old right-handed thrower was selected as a shortstop by the Padres. He moved to pitching late in his development and did not pick up a baseball on a mound until he was 17 and in the Padres rookie leagues in 2017. It is there where he immediately flashed potential, going 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP in 12 games started and 56 innings pitched against older competition.

Patino ultimately kept getting better until he made his major league debut with the Padres in 2020 during the COVID season. The 6-foot-1 pitcher made one start for the club and totaled 17.1 innings in 11 games for the Friars.

His walk rate is the major red flag, as Patino has walked 70 batters in 136.1 innings pitched at the major league level. The stuff plays at the highest level, but he must pound the zone. The hope is that Ruben Niebla will unlock his mechanics and allow Patino to throw freely and easily while hitting his spots in and out of the zone.

There is plenty of time to get value from this Colombian pitcher. He is not a free agent until the 2028 season, and that is exactly what the Padres need. The team will require several pitchers making close to the league minimum to compete for the next several years. The Padres are invested heavily in their offensive unit; now it is time to shore up the pitching staff. In time, Luis Patino could be a valuable member of that staff.

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