Fort Wayne, Ind- While the attention and scrutiny on the Padres’ minor league system may be at an all-time high, there are still quite a few intriguing prospects flying under the radar.  Today, one such player, 18-year-old Luis Patino, tantalized fans and scouts in his full-season debut with the Fort Wayne TinCaps, striking out four and allowing a meager three baserunners over the first five innings as the TinCaps won 3-2.

In the top of the first, Patino came out firing on all cylinders with his fastball sitting 94-96 mph, but he ran into some minor trouble a couple of hitters into the game.  After inducing a pair of groundouts, he gave up a line drive double to center and subsequently made a poor throw trying to pick the runner off of second, which ultimately resulted in an unearned run.

Despite the limited damage, Patino displayed his athleticism every bit as loudly as it had been described by Sam Geaney last summer in an interview with John Conniff.  “In a way, he’s like MacKenzie, in that both are two of the more athletic pitchers that we had at the complex this summer,” said Geaney.  “If you want a comp, he reminds you of the more athletic pitchers that you will see in terms of Mike Leake or Jake Peavy. But remember, I’m not saying he is going to have the careers they did, but he is the same type of premium athletic pitcher.”

The young right-hander responded well to start the second by striking out two consecutive Whitecaps’ hitters.  For the first one, he utilized a deceptive extra leg pump and dropped his velocity from 95 mph to 92 mph to catch the batter off guard, as you can see here:

“Yeah, I like to do that,” said Patino after the game.  “It is to change the timing for the hitters because they sometimes wait for the fastball so you change the delivery.”

On the second strikeout, he broke out a curveball that boasted a sharp, downward bite.  It’s a pitch he relied on upon heavily as the game progressed and is more advanced than either his changeup or slider.  In fact, after the game, a scout opined to me that he would have Patino tuck away the slider for a while and focus on tightening up the curve; though, there is no indication the organization will do that with Patino only having thrown a handful of sliders in one game.

Over the next couple of innings, Patino maintained both his velocity and command well, continuing to touch 94-95 mph with his heater.  Additionally, his ability to generate groundballs, including a 3-6-1 double play to close out the fourth, allowed him to work efficiently as he required a mere 58 pitches to get through four innings.

“I think everything I heard coming into today was positive,” Fort Wayne manager Anthony Contreras shared.  “Obviously, the talent he is; the person he is; and the makeup he is played out on the field.  I was excited to see him compete, and he showed a little bit of emotion out there when we got that double play for him to finish the inning.”

Heading into the fifth, there was some expectation that his velocity would drop, but Patino still displayed an ability to dial it up to 94-95 mph.  He also did a fair job mixing in the slider and changeup more frequently, but his command wasn’t nearly as sharp.  On one occasion, he hung a breaking ball over the plate; however, he was unscathed as the shot to deep to left center was caught by Tre Carter.

Fort Wayne elected to keep Patino out there to start the sixth considering he had only tossed 67 pitches on the day, but he was unable to keep things rolling, giving up two soft singles and a walk to end his day with a final line of 5 IP, 1 ER, BB, 4 K, and 5 H.  It’s a solid but unspectacular stat line that doesn’t do justice for the special talent Patino flashed at Parkview today.

“I felt good…and now I’m a little excited because it was my first start,” said Patino.  “…My command today was good…I controlled my pitches to all- command inside, up, outside…my changeup and my curveball and my slider. “

Now firmly entrenched in the six-man rotation, Patino is slated to start his second game against the same team on Tuesday when the TinCaps travel to West Michigan.

TinCap Notes: It was a challenging day for the Fort Wayne hitters as they faced off against 2016 first round pick Matt Manning, who struck out eight and allowed just one extra-base hit, and his devastating curveball.

The generally patient and selective Jeisson Rosario was responsible for an uncharacteristic three strikeouts on the day, giving him thirteen over the last six games.  There’s no reason for grave concern since it seems to be a matter of being pitched differently (attacking the zone early) and falling behind in the count.  At just 18 years old and a good eye at the plate, I would expect Rosario to rectify that and adjust over the next few weeks.

After being transferred to Fort Wayne last week, Luis Almanzar is getting his feet under him, collecting a walk and a pair of singles in today’s game, which included a line drive to center field to give the TinCaps an early lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, Tirso Ornelas rocketed a 107 mph line drive down the first base line for a double off a southpaw.

Posted by Travis Barnett

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