The MLB season can be compared to mining for gold back in the 1840’s.
It can be a long and painful process, but there may very well be gems found along the way.
2017, like any other season, should be no different for the Friars. There is a high probability that there will be players who virtually come out of nowhere and perform well for the team.
Here is a rundown of some of the early candidates to be the next Schimpf, Buchter, or Hand.
Diaz is an obvious choice for this category as he is Luis Perdomo, circa 2017. The Dominican pitcher has only pitched as far as Single-A. Sound familiar? Diaz pitched with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2016 and posted a 3.71 ERA in 26 appearances. The 22-year-old might prove to be a headache out of the bullpen to start out, but we may see him in the rotation come May or June. Diaz does possess a fastball in the mid to upper 90s and should make an impact come 2017. The Darren Balsey factor should pay off big here.
Lockett is another pitcher who has an outside chance of making the rotation at some point in 2017. At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, and with a fastball that reaches 95-96 MPH, this right-handed pitcher should be a force to be reckoned with eventually. Lockett has pitched just about everywhere within the Padres’ organization. Just last season, the 22-year-old made his progression from Fort Wayne to El Paso. Overall, Walker had a fantastic 2016, going 10-9 with a 2.96 ERA in 28 games (25 started). His numbers in Triple-A El Paso were not as dominant, as he went 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts. But just the fact that Lockett made it to El Paso in 2016 is impressive in its own right. Hopefully we see the pitcher make it to the show at some point in 2017.
Previously this off-season, the Padres protected some unexpected players in the Rule-5 draft and added them to the 40-man roster. Among the most bizarre additions was catcher turned pitcher, Jose Ruiz. The 22-year-old had been a catcher his whole career up to 2016 when he made the transition to professional pitcher. Ruiz had a lackluster season as a backstop with Lake Elsinore in 2016, batting .215 with only nine RBI in 49 games. Ruiz had to make a change to have a chance of staying with an MLB organization. The Dominican had his first recorded outing with the Arizona League Padres. Ruiz threw two-thirds of an inning and allowed no hits. Jose then moved on to Low-A with Tri-City, where he pitched 10 and two-thirds scoreless innings with two saves and 12 strikeouts. Finally, his last stop was Lake Elsinore where he pitched a scoreless inning in 2016. Ruiz went on to try to progress in the Venezuelan League during the off-season. He was not on the mound much as he only pitched an inning and allowed two runs. With guys like Brad Hand, Ryan Buchter, and Carter Capps potentially being traded away, Ruiz might make it to the Padres bullpen at some point in 2017.
Zach Lee P
Lee was a peculiar signing for the San Diego Padres this off-season. The 6-foot-4 pitcher did make it to MLB in 2015, but had a terrible outing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lee allowed seven runs on 11 hits in four and two-thirds innings pitched. Darren Balsley and the Padres must see something in Zach Lee, as his 2016 campaign in the minors was also not impressive. In 27 starts in Triple-A, Lee posted a 6.14 ERA with a 1.568 WHIP. He could be a decent addition, or the team could cut their ties early in spring. Either way, he was definitely worth a look for a 2017 Padres’ team that needs pitching.
When looking at Jenkins’ numbers, you might think that he finds himself in the same situation as Zach Lee. However Jenkins has looked impressive in the majors before. His 5.88 ERA in eight games with the Braves last season is deceiving. The 6-foot-4 pitcher did struggle in his first MLB stint, but after being brought back up on June 22, Jenkins allowed no earned runs in 23 innings. When you mix the 24-year-old’s potential with Petco Park and Darren Balsley, that could be something special come 2017. He has a high likelihood to break camp with the team in some aspect, though he does have minor league options left and can be sent to El Paso.
Fresh from the White House, is the Padres new signing, Trevor Cahill. The 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher has had an intriguing career up to this point. Cahill was once an all-star, back in 2010 with the Oakland Athletics. The Oceanside native would post an ERA of 2.97 with an impressive 18-8 record. These days, Cahill has been used primarily as a reliever, he was part of the Chicago Cubs bullpen in 2016. Cahill was not on the famed World Series roster, but did contribute throughout the season, pitching in 50 games. The former Vista High student posted an ERA of 2.74 in 65 and two-thirds innings with the World Series Champs in 2016. Cahill will most likely be on the roster come opening day, however it is still uncertain if he will be in the rotation for Darren Balsley or become a part of Doug Bochtler‘s crew in the bullpen.
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