The San Diego Padres hired Ruben Niebla to serve as the team’s new pitching coach. He will have quite a few projects on his hands for the coming season and beyond. Here are a few who should benefit immediately.
In searching for a new pitching coach, the Padres sought a coach to grow with the young team.
At the age of 50, Ruben Niebla is considered a younger coach with many upsides to his craft. After a few seasons of Larry Rothschild being in charge of the staff, A.J. Preller went in a totally different direction. With minimal experience as a major league pitching coach, Niebla will learn on the job.
The native of Calexico is well known for his ability to get the most out of his pitching staff. Niebla made it to the Triple-A level but never enjoyed big-league dreams. He relates well to young pitchers and quickly bonds with them. With this kind of trust, pitchers tend to adjust faster to new concepts and recommendations.
Reviews from Cleveland are favorable in regards to Niebla.
Current Guardians’ pitchers Logan Allen and Cal Quantrill are no strangers to Padres fans. Both made it no secret that they enjoyed their time with the pitching coach. Niebla spent over 20 years in the system, working under various titles. His connections to players are endless as each praises his ability to connect with pitchers.
The Guardians will miss his services, but Niebla took advantage of an opportunity to return home of sorts. Calexico and San Diego are not that far apart. There is also great excitement about the Padres currently. A chance to work and build his reputation in San Diego was too good to ignore.
Everyone on the staff will benefit from his presence, but the following pitchers should gain from the addition of Niebla in 2022 and beyond.
Of all his projects, this might be the most important of all. The Padres probably expected Gore to have made his debut by now at the major league level, but that hasn’t happened. For whatever reason, the southpaw is taking a little more time than initially thought. Within the first few days that the Padres hired Niebla, Gore and the new coach were seen at Petco Park in the outfield working on mechanics. The mechanics for Gore has varied slightly over the years, and it will be interesting to see what Niebla has to say about the southpaw’s future motion. Gore has unlimited potential, and he will debut at some point in 2022 for the Padres. How well he does will depend significantly on what Ruben Niebla can get from the young hurler.
Pagan got hammered late in the season as he constantly left fastballs over the plate. Hitters did not miss Pagan’s heater, and the pitcher coughed up late runs for the Padres in 2021. The fastball velocity is still adequate for Pagan. His issues seem to be on location and not getting the proper movement on his pitches. If Niebla can get better command from Pagan, then the Padres could enjoy a decent year from the right-handed pitcher. Arm strength and durability are not a concern for Pagan, who has been available for the Padres since the team acquired the pitcher from the Rays.
This right-handed pitcher has one of the nastiest sliders in the game of baseball, but he often has no idea where he is throwing the ball. Adams led all of the major leagues in hit batters last season, and more often than not, they were on his terrific slider. The main issue is in his windup. There are many moving parts, and more often than not, the pitcher is unable to repeat his mechanics and, more importantly- his release point. If Niebla can get adequate control out of this pitcher, he could be one of the best relief pitchers in the game of baseball. For now, he is a risk any time he toes the rubber.
At times in 2021, Blake Snell showed why he is a former Cy Young award winner. Then there were times when a single inning got away from the lefty, and he struggled to make it deep in the game. Snell always seems to battle high pitch counts, which could be a common theme for the rest of his career. However, Niebla will try to limit his wear and tear in an attempt to get six or seven innings out of the pitcher each time he takes the mound. Snell battled minor mechanical issues in 2021 and will try to be more consistent this coming season for the Padres. Niebla will be a big key to that happening.
The rookie year for Weathers was full of ups and downs. The southpaw showed why the Padres spent a high draft pick on him. An injury to his leg hurt Weathers’ momentum in 2021, and he never seemed to recover. Niebla has an extensive history of working with young pitchers in their infancy in the league. The Padres will want to see that Weathers makes adjustments and can learn from his mistakes. The Padres new pitching coach will guide Weathers through the bumps in the road. For the Padres’ sake, hopefully, Weathers is a quick learner.
An elbow injury at the end of the 2021 season still clouds Paddack’s future season. Reports are that the elbow is okay, but the Padres will not really know until the pitcher starts constantly throwing during the spring. The Padres have seen what Paddack can do in the league as he performed well in his rookie season. Since then, his ERA and WHIP have climbed, and there is a sense that Paddack is regressing. Time is still on Paddack’s side, but he will need to remain healthy and improve several facets of his game. Ruben Niebla may have his work cut out for him with Paddack, but the talent is there for success.