As the calendar turns from June to July, and the All Star Break looms ever closer, the MLB trade deadline season is about to be in full swing. After getting this year’s trading started with their early June trade of James Shields to the Chicago White Sox for Erik Johnson and Fernando Tatis Jr., the San Diego were back at it again on Thursday morning/afternoon. Despite his position as a potential All-Star, the San Diego Padres sent right hander Fernando Rodney to the Miami Marlins in return for a young, 20-year-old right hander by the name of Chris Paddack. Ryan Buchter appears slated to take over for Rodney in the closer role for the Padres going forward.
While most Padre fans know what the team gave up in Rodney, a closer that gave up only one earned run all season to this point, the return in Paddack is a much bigger unknown.
Originally drafted in the eighth round of last year’s MLB Draft, in which he fell several rounds because of signability concerns, Chris Paddack is 6’4’’ and weighs in at just under 200 pounds. After dominating at Cedar Park High School in Texas, to the tune of a 0.46 ERA and 16.1 K/9 in his senior season, Paddack was well on the radar of scouts for many teams. Prior to the draft, Paddack was thought of as a fourth round talent before signability concerns caused him to fall to the Marlins at pick 236. The Marlins nearly doubled the slot money for that pick, convincing Paddack to forgo a scholarship with Texas A&M and sign with the Marlins instead.
Despite being pretty raw when drafted last year, Paddack has lots of projectability ability with his big frame and strong body. Paddack has good life on his fastball, as it reaches the low to mid-90s, as well as a strong secondary pitch in his changeup, and a possible decent third pitch in his curveball. All in all, Paddack has a plus fastball, a potential plus-plus changeup, and the potential to have at least an average third pitch in his curveball. There’s still a good amount of work to be done, but it’s clear the upside is certainly there with Paddack.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 30, 2016
So far this season, Paddack has been nothing short of dominant. Despite getting a late start to the season because of nagging injuries, Paddack has been fantastic to this point, pitching to a 0.95 ERA and striking out 48 hitters over his first 28.1 innings. He’s only made six starts so far on the year, but the early returns are certainly very promising. There are some developmental hurdles to jump over, including the need for slight mechanical tweaks and the development of a more viable third pitch, but it’s really so far so good for Paddack. Given the current product, Paddack certainly looks the part of a #3 or #4 starter at the big league level long term.
From everything that has been said around the league by scouts and evaluators, it seems the Padres got quite a good piece in return for Fernando Rodney. Paddack is still obviously years away from being a big league contributor, but the current state of the Padres makes trading away a talent like Rodney a lot easier. According to MLB Pipeline, Paddack fits in as the Padres 11th best prospect, right between fellow starters Dinelson Lamet and Enyel De Los Santos. It remains to be seen where he will report, but he will likely start in Low-A Fort Wayne with at least some chance of jumping right to High-A Lake Elsinore.