To say that Chris Paddack has been having a good season so far is to vastly underestimate what he has actually been doing.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander has been on fire ever since he arrived in Lake Elsinore after completing his rehab for Tommy John surgery, as in only 21 2/3 innings, he has punched out 36 batters while walking a measly two, while carrying a pristine 0.00 ERA and a 0.38 WHIP.
Paddack was acquired in a 2016 trade that should have A.J. Preller arrested and sent to prison for committing highway robbery against the Miami Marlins, sending closer Fernando Rodney to the Marlins in exchange for the young Paddack, who had been lighting up Low-A Greensboro. Rodney lasted half a season for the Marlins, picking up eight saves, but compiling an ugly ERA of 5.89 and a 1.80 WHIP. He was eventually released at the end of the season and is currently playing for the Minesota Twins.
Paddack, however, continued his hot start in Low-A Fort Wayne, posting a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings, striking out 23 batters and walking three.
Unfortunately, Tommy John surgery would wipe out what was a promising start and keep Paddack out for the rest of the 2016 season, as well as the entire 2017 season.
He is back in action at High-A Lake Elsinore though, and the numbers from his previous performance reflect numbers that can be normally be replicated in a game of MLB The Show, striking out 10 batters over 5 2/3 innings and extending his scoreless streak to 21 2/3 innings.
It is clear that Paddack is more than advanced enough for the High-A level, but his performances have some fans wondering; will we see Chris Paddack in San Diego by the end of the season?
#Padres' Chris Paddack continued his amazing return from TJ yesterday, fanning 10 in 5.2 scoreless frames, extending his scoreless streak to 21.2 IP to start 2018 (yielded only 7 singles & 3 doubles through 1st 4 starts while posting a 36:2 K/BB mark): https://t.co/XSnWGo0xVB pic.twitter.com/7BfzJpnV9G
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 19, 2018
First, let’s take a look at his overall numbers on the year. With the aforementioned ERA and WHIP stats above, Paddack has paired that with a K% of 48 and a carries a 2.7 BB%. For those who aren’t convinced that Paddack isn’t a strikeout machine yet, then perhaps his 14.95 K/9 rate, as well as his 0.83 BB/9 rate, will provide some clarity. None of his success can be chalked up to luck either, as Paddack’s 0.74 FIP (Fielding Independent Percentage) showcases that he doesn’t need luck to make minor league hitters look like Little League ballplayers swinging garden hoses.
Numbers like these prove that Paddack can trail blaze through the Minors at a relative quick pace, and a promotion to Double-A San Antonio is surely in the wings, especially considering that former Rule 5 pick Miguel Diaz was promoted to Triple-A El Paso. Paddack is making a strong case to receive the Joey Lucchesi treatment; arrive in Lake Elsinore, blow everyone away to earn a promotion to San Antonio, go to spring training, and pitch your way onto the Major League roster.
— Jeff Sanders (@sdutSanders) May 18, 2018
However, while Paddack is for certain in need of a promotion, his chances of making it on to the Major League roster seem slim. Colin Rea is reportedly returning to San Antonio for a rehab assignment in preparation for a return to San Diego, rookie pitchers Lucchesi and Eric Lauer will be given their chances to succeed, Clayton Richard is expected to keep his rotation spot as a left-handed innings eater, and Tyson Ross has been excellent in his return to San Diego.
A move would also have to be made to add Paddack to the 40-man roster, but that problem could be resolved at the trade deadline. Preller’s phone will be buzzing come July with offers for closer Brad Hand and Ross, and while Preller may ask for a large bundle of prospects for his closer, Ross could be traded off for a couple of solid prospects, opening up one or even two roster spots. When Austin Hedges returns, either A.J. Ellis or Raffy Lopez could get designated for assignment, and even an extra outfielder could lose his spot on the roster should the Padres want to make a move.
Cal Quantrill and Logan Allen highlight the San Antonio pitching staff, as well as the injured Jake Nix and the rehabbing Rea, while Luis Perdomo, Walker Lockett, and Brett Kennedy are the front men of the El Paso rotation along with the aforementioned Diaz. Both teams could use Paddack’s filthy stuff on their roster, and the Padres need to stoke the flames of Paddack’s talent by challenging the 22-year-old at the upper levels of the minor leagues. If he continues to post video game numbers at the higher levels, Paddack could be donning a San Diego jersey come September when the rosters expand.