Padres: Chris Paddack Isn’t Their Only Impressive Rookie Pitcher
A significant part of the Padres’ future is hinging on their young pitching that is coming up through the farm system. From their top prize in MacKenzie Gore to Luis Patino, to Adrian Morejon and Ryan Weathers, and down to Michel Báez, San Diego has a plethora of young arms that should be making their debuts in the coming years. And with each one, the team’s chances at contention should improve.
But the movement has already begun this season, headlined by the 23-year-old Chris Paddack. And even though he’s allowed nine earned runs in his last ten innings across two starts, the rookie still has an impressive 3.26 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 115 strikeouts in 110.1 innings heading into play on Friday.
But, because of how impressive he’s been, it’s caused many of us to overlook the fact that he’s just one of the talented rookie pitchers on San Diego’s Major League roster that has been contributing.
Starter Cal Quantrill and reliever Andrés Muñoz are the other two that have quietly put together impressive 2019 campaigns thus far. But, unless you were a Padres fan or went into the deep cuts of baseball, you wouldn’t know because Paddack has received all the shine.
Quantrill has appeared in 17 games (12 starts) on the season and has an impressive 3.23 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and opponents’ .665 OPS with 61 strikeouts in 75.1 innings. However, he didn’t make his debut with the Padres until May 1st.
And by the time the All-Star Break came around, he was 11 games and 41 innings into his career, with an unsightly 4.83 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. It got to the point where he was put into the bullpen for over two weeks before returning as a starter.
However, the All-Star Break seemed to do him well, as he’s quietly gone on an impressive stretch since July 14th.
In six appearances (five starts), the 24-year-old has tossed 34.1 innings while posting a 1.31 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, .179 batting average against (BAA), 4.6% walk rate, and a 3.14 FIP.
Among all pitchers with at least 30 innings during this period, his ERA ranks 4th in MLB, while his WHIP comes in at 6th, average against, 8th, walk rate, 12th, and his FIP, 14th.
His FIP in these six games, just like with his season mark, indicates that he has been a bit fortunate, however. And this stems from his lack of strikeouts paired with his walk-rate.
Quantrill’s been excellent at limiting the walks recently, but on the season, he’s been slightly above-average, which results in a below-average 13.6 K-BB% because of his lack of swing-and-miss stuff. And because of it, you won’t find many putting him on the level of a Paddack, Gore, or even Patino.
But that’s okay because his ceiling has long been viewed as a quality mid-rotation arm. And with Paddack and Gore expected to slot into the top, Quantrill would make for a strong number three or four, if he continues to develop.
But he’s not the only one turning heads, as 20-year-old Andrés Muñoz, the Padres’ 10th-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, is making a name for himself too.
Armed with a potential 80-grade fastball that averages over 100 miles-per-hour, and a slider that could develop into a plus pitch, the youngster is slowly working his way towards being an elite back-end, high-leverage reliever or closer.
The flamethrowing rookie debuted right after the All-Star Break, and in 13.1 innings since, has a 2.03 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 16 strikeouts. Per Statcast, Muñoz has an above-average exit velocity allowed, aided by a healthy 25.8% hard-hit rate (average is 34.4%).
The righty has an excellent .238 wOBA allowed, .278 Expected wOBA, .194 Expected Batting Average, and .296 Expected Slugging Percentage. And for relievers, these numbers, along with strikeouts and walks, are more telling than ERA.
His walk-rate of over 14% shows that he does have control issues, but correcting that usually comes last to a young pitcher, especially hard-throwing ones. And Muñoz is only 20, so he has a lot of room for growth. In fact, it would be more surprising if he didn’t have control and/or command issues when you consider all the variables.
The future is bright in Southern California. And while Quantrill and Muñoz may not be viewed in the same light as their peers within the organization, they are vital pieces to building a winner.
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Featured Image via Geoff Bilau