Padres’ Minor League LHP Kyle McGrath Emerging

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It is a pleasure to report that there is a common theme in recent months. San Diego Padres minor league pitchers are really progressing. Dinelson Lamet, Michael Kelly, Andrew “Walker” Lockett, Jerry Keel and Seth Simmons have all developed exceptionally well this season beyond the A-Ball level.

The majority of the Padres pitching-rich talent is currently at Fort Wayne, but soon you will be seeing Anderson Espinoza, Eric Lauer, Jacob Nix, Austin Smith, Logan Allen, Enyel De Los Santos, Jean Cosme, Hansel Rodriguez, Cal Quantrill and company. The Padres have an excellent group of youngsters that should eventually trickle their way to the major league level. It just a matter of time.

Another young arm who is really been fantastic since being drafted by the team is left-handed relief pitcher Kyle McGrath. The hurler out of Louisville was drafted by the Padres in the 36th round of the 2014 draft. Despite being a mid 30th round selection, McGrath has developed so well that he has just been called up to El Paso for his first taste of Triple-A life.

He has an amazing career minor league ERA of 1.47 to go along with a 0.83 WHIP. Every single one his 99 games has been out of the bullpen and he is probably one of the best pitchers in the Padres system that you have never heard of. Being that he is a middle relief pitcher, he doesn’t get much press. However, when you maintain numbers like this in 100 career games and 159 innings pitched, you are not a fluke.

The left-handed pitcher is tall and thin and has a herky-jerky type of motion. Usually pitchers who throw this way tend to be wild, but McGrath is far from that. In his 159 career minor league innings he has walked 24 batters, opposed to striking out 179. He has also converted six out of 10 save chances, but that does not appear to be his future. He has been tough on left-handed hitter this year, holding them to a .125 average. Right handers have hit .219 off of him so it’s not as though he will only be a situational lefty. His future is unclear at the moment, but his upside is intriguing and Padres management is surely happy with his progression.

In 2015 McGrath went 3-0 at Fort Wayne with a 1.70 ERA in 41 games. He only walked eight batters in 68.2 innings while striking out 79. He was rewarded with a call up to Double-A last year but was roughed up in his one appearance. This season McGrath is 2-2 overall with a 0.95 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP. That is in 44 games between Lake Elsinore and San Antonio. In fact he went his first 17 innings in Lake Elsinore without allowing a run. That earned him a promotion to the Missions. In the combined 66 innings pitched this season he has struck out 76 and walked nine. His amazing ability to throw strikes is something that bodes well for his future.

At 24 he has progressed really well. Being that he was a collegiate pitcher, he was able to grasp the concept of pitching faster than some younger hurlers. McGrath has an outside chance to earn a call up at some point next season. His strikeout to walk ratios are too advanced to ignore. If he continues to throw like that in Triple-A he will clearly earn a call up. You can never have too many lefties in your bullpen. One that throws strikes is even better. Kyle McGrath is someone who Padres fans need to keep their eye on.

The Padres have plenty of depth and the addition of McGrath to the list of prospects is surely a great thing for the development of the Padres minor league system. Having all these talented young arms is one thing, but the team needs to be able to help each and every pitcher grow and be a better performer. The fact numerous young players have developed well this season leads me to believe the franchise finally has excellent teachers in its system. Something that had been questioned for a long time as the team’s top draft picks continually fizzle out before reaching the major league level.

A “Padres Way” is no easy thing to implement. The team is trying though. Players like McGrath prove that their philosophies are capable of growing a franchise. It is an exciting time to be a Padres fan as this franchise has finally taken the correct steps to come out of the stone age. International talent, drafted talent and young players progressing. Who could ask for anything more? Well yes a winning team on the field now would be nice. However the team is just two years into this rebuild and if you ask me, they are way ahead of schedule for success. 2019 may be the target date, but don’t be surprised if the Padres start to contend earlier.

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