In this edition of the weekly prospect spotlight series here at East Village Times, Patrick Brewer puts the spotlight on Padres pitching prospect Zech Lemond.
Long known for having quite a bit of pitching depth in the minor league system, the Padres system was left barren following A.J. Preller’s offseason frenzy last year. Names like Max Fried, Zach Elfin, Joe Ross, Matt Wisler, and Jesse Hahn were all traded last offseason.
Going into the 2015 season, the Padres had a pretty decent starting rotation, with not much else in the minor league system. The best overall talent in terms of starting pitching was Colin Rea, who only really came on in a big way in the second half. Beyond him, there was not a lot else doing for the Padres in the pitching department in the minor leagues in 2015.
Despite this lack of pitching talent at the top of the system, the Padres did have a few interesting prospects in the lower end of the system, and now have a few more in Austin Smith, Jacob Nix, and Logan Allen. One of those interesting pitchers in the Padres lower minors is Zech Lemond, who was selected in the 3rd round (86th overall) out of Rice in the 2014 draft. Rated the 25th prospect in the Padres minor league system, Lemond is coming off a season in which he struggled in his first season pitching in High A ball after a brief stint in Double A to close out the 2014 season.
At only 23 years old, Lemond still has lot of room to grow despite his poor showing last season. In 130 innings pitched in 2015, Lemond finished the year with a 5.54 ERA and a 4.58 FIP. Lemond actually appeared in 32 games, with 22 of those coming as starts. Lemond struggled with walks, walking three batters per nine innings, and he was unable to get consistent strikeouts, striking out only 7 batters per nine innings. Despite those struggles, Lemond still has the potential for a bright future if he can put all aspects of his game together.
Coming out of Rice, Lemond set a record with 14 saves in his Sophomore season before being moved to the rotation. Despite some injury concerns, Lemond was still selected in the third round by the Padres in the 2014 draft. Lemond currently operates with three pitches: a mid-90s fastball, usually in the 92-96 mph range, a “spike” curveball that averages around 85 mph, as well as a decent changeup. Lemond does a good job of using the strike zone and has a strong delivery, making him a good bet to stay in the rotation. There are some questions with his durability given his small size, however Lemond still has time to grow into his frame.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Based on the scouting grades above, Lemond currently profiles as a number four pitcher. Lemond’s fastball is certainly above average with strong command, but he still has a lot of work to do getting his changeup and curveball up to speed. His curveball is strong a secondary pitch, but Lemond needs to command the pitch better in order to succeed in the long term. The biggest knock to this point against him is his struggles with control using his secondary pitches. At worst, Lemond can be a strong relief option if he does not make it as a starter long term