Drafted in the seventh round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals, Buddy Baumann had a rather circuitous route to his 2016 big league debut with the San Diego Padres. Originally drafted out of college, Baumann had not been the fast riser the Royals hoped he would be when he was selected. After a solid enough showing at rookie ball in 2009, with a decent five-inning outing being his only appearance, Baumann began the 2010 season at High-A for the Royals. In just over 100 innings and 14 starts, Baumann struck out over 10 batters per nine innings and sported an ERA well under 3.00 (2.24 to be exact).
Despite this string of success, Baumann spent nearly all of 2011 and 2012 in Double-A after struggles in 2011 led to him being converted to a reliever full time in 2012. Even with the transition, Baumann still struggled, nearly matching his 4.29 ERA from the year before. Baumann would spend the majority of his time over the next three years in Triple-A, having varying degrees of success until he ended up back in Triple-A for a fourth year in 2016, this time with San Diego.
Baumann once again had a degree of success, with a fourth straight year in Triple-A with an ERA around 3.00. His peripheral numbers weren’t nearly as good, and his walk rate was somewhat elevated, but Baumann did enough to finally earn himself a big league call-up. Baumann appeared in 11 games for the Padres, striking out 10 batters, walking four, and giving up four earned runs in total. Despite being held back by the Royals for all the years, it seemed that maybe Baumann could hack it at the next level.
Baumann spent some of the 2017 season back in the minor leagues, but let’s focus on his 23 games and 17 and two-thirds innings back in the big leagues. In those innings, Baumann struck out 21 batters to just seven walks and gave up a total of five earned runs, good for a 2.55 ERA. However, Baumann’s peripheral numbers didn’t look nearly as good, as evidenced by his 5.42 FIP. This is mostly due to his low BABIP (.189) and high HR/9 (2.04), as well as high fly ball rate, which all elevated that number. Otherwise, Baumann had a solid batting average against, a solid WHIP, and maintained a good strikeout-to-walk ratio.
In regards to his pitch selection, Baumann used mostly fastballs, as just over 80 percent of his pitches thrown were fastballs, up from 70 percent the year before. Beyond that, he mostly used his slider as his out pitch, using it 16 percent of the time, while he threw his changeup only three percent of the time. Baumann sat in the upper 80s to lower 90s with his fastball, while both his slider and changeup were closer to 83-85. In terms of pitch values, Baumann’s slider was clearly his best pitch, and he may benefit from using it more frequently at the expense of his fastball.
2018 Projection and Long-Term Outlook
Going into 2018, it’s hard to see where Baumann fits into the Padres 25-man roster. With the likes of Colten Brewer, Carter Capps, Kazuhisa Makita, Phil Maton, Kyle McGrath, Brad Hand, Craig Stammen, Jose Torres, and Kirby Yates already on the 40-man roster, and quite a few extra starters who could end up in the bullpen, it’s unclear how Baumann gets playing time in the big leagues in 2018. Add to that the fact that some more relievers, such as Brad Wieck, Trey Wingenter, Eric Yardley, and others are getting close to big league-ready, Baumann may end up being the odd man out.
It’s likely he starts the year in Triple-A and maybe works his way back to the big leagues if the Padres make a trade of a reliever or someone gets hurt. Either way, I wouldn’t count on seeing too much from Baumann in 2018. On another note, his first name is actually George. So that’s interesting. And man does he have style.
I am rooting for him for the socks alone.