Spring Training Preview: Tyrell Jenkins & His Interesting Past

Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports


This past year, Jenkins avoided the disabled list for the first time in his career.

He performed well in Triple-A, with a 4-3 record and an ERA of 2.47 in 83.2 innings.

Jenkins was promoted to the big leagues in June for the first time in his career and ended up throwing 52 big league innings. He had a nice stretch of three consecutive starts where he threw a combined 18 innings, striking out nine while only giving up three runs and ten hits.

What surrounded that, though, wasn’t too pretty. Tyrell’s first cup of coffee in the bigs added up to a 5.88 ERA and a 6.86 FIP in 52 IP. He also walked more batters (33) than he struck out (26) and gave up 11 home runs.

At the end of the season, he lost sensation in his fingers, citing nerve damage. Luckily, that feeling came back and everything was deemed OK in the following days.

Tyrell Jenkins was traded by the Braves in December along with LHP Brady Feigl to the Rangers for right-handed prospect Luke Jackson.

He was DFA’d by the Rangers 13 days later, and then claimed by the Reds. The Reds then DFA’d him, and he was claimed by the Padres. He was a member of four organizations in four weeks.

It was such a whirlwind, that he actually did not even know the Reds had DFA’d him; at least until a member of the Red’s organization called him and let him know the Padres had claimed him, as told in a story by David O’Brien:

“So, the Padres got me. I talked to (manager Andy) Green; the GM, I believe, Mr. Preller, A.J. Preller; and I talked to the pitching coach, and they all sound kind of excited. I mean, they all called me, so…. They’re excited, I’m excited.”

So, that’s where we are now. Tyrell Jenkins is in MLB camp with the Padres as another former top-100 prospect seeking to revive his career. When looking at Jenkins’ career so far, a few things stand out:

  1. His strikeout and walk rate is pretty poor. That is not a good sign. His career K/9 throughout his professional career reads as this: 6.0, 8.84, 8.74, 6.20, 5.40, 4.99, 5.71, 5.47, 4.92, then a 4.50 K/9 in the big leagues. Ever since 2012, Jenkins’ strikeout rate has been quite subpar, almost alarmingly so. I’d bet it is a big reason why the Braves decided to trade him. Also, for being someone who statistically has shown so far that he cannot strike many batters out, Jenkins walks a lot of guys too. That’s not a good recipe for success.
  2. He really has not gotten a fair shake with either of his organizations. As a Cardinal, once he finally got healthy and performed well, he got traded. He was still young at the time and was kind of blindsided by the trade, which must have been pretty rough on him. During his stint with the Braves, while Jason Heyward was performing in STL and Shelby Miller was dominating at the big league level, Jenkins probably felt some pressure to perform. And he did perform, to a certain extent. However, he battled injuries along the way, and his upside ended up being not as high as the Braves totally expected.
  3. He always goes old-school with the socks, which I love:
  4. He seems like a heck of a dude. A lot of Braves’ fans and writers were pretty sad to see him go:

He has that infectious personality that everyone wants in a player. He’s a hard worker who loves to compete. It is hard to not root for Tyrell Jenkins.

Jenkins figures to get a look in big-league camp, and he is still really young. At 24 (he will not turn 25 until July 20th), he is only a year older than Luis Perdomo. The Henderson High School native averages low-90s on his fastball (his average fastball velo with the Braves last year was 91.2 MPH, per FanGraphs). In addition to that, he throws a slider and a changeup. Perhaps the most intriguing part about him is, his athletic frame. I mean, it is not like his struggles have been because he has not been in great shape. He has always been in great shape. That alone can give some hope to the Padres’ brass that Jenkins can transform himself into the pitcher he was once expected to be.

Tyrell Jenkins is yet another pitcher that Darren Balsley can seek to revive. “Bals” has his hands full this Spring with a fair share of former highly-touted pitchers. The Jered Weaver signing on Saturday just means there’s one less spot for Tyrell Jenkins on the big league pitching staff. Jenkins is not projected to be one of the Padres’ top-5 starting pitchers come Opening Day, but a lot can change during spring training.

Even if he does not win a rotation spot, perhaps he can land in the bullpen as a long-relief option. A.J. Preller was reported to have a lot of interest in Jenkins dating back to his days with the Braves, and he obviously thinks there is something in Jenkins that is big-league material. Let’s hope he is right.

There is one quote from James A. Baldwin that, in my opinion, sums up Tyrell Jenkins this spring. That quote is this: “The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.” Tyrell has nothing to lose. For the first time in his career, he does not have any major expectations. He is no longer the “$1.3 million dollar man” who was expected to become a star for the Cardinals, nor is he the “player who was traded for Jason Heyward” as he was on the Braves.

He is a San Diego Padre. He can just go out, perform his best, and see what happens.

I am rooting for him to make it. All other Padres’ fans should, too.

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