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Where Did Chris Paddack Come From?

After a dominant spring, Padres rookie right-hander Chris Paddack made his major league debut on Sunday against the Giants. All Paddack did was prove that his Spring Training was no fluke, surrendering one run on two hits over five spectacular innings of work. Paddack retired the first ten batters, six of which were strike outs. The Giants first hit came in his fifth inning of work, where a Brandon Crawford single and Pablo Sandoval double led to the Giants lone run. In what could have been another milestone in Paddack’s young career, he came to the plate with the bases loaded in the second inning and two outs. His first career plate appearance nearly gave him his first career Major League hit and RBI. Paddack hit a seemingly line drive single to right field. However, Giants right fielder Gerardo Parra came up firing to first base, just in time to nab Paddack to end the inning. The emotional rollercoaster that is seeing your first major league plate appearance go from an rbi single to an out did not faze Paddack. He retired the side in the following inning. Though he did not earn the win, Paddack’s amazing start to the 2019 season begs the question – Where did Chris Paddack come from?

Christopher Joseph Paddack was born on January 8th, 1996, in Cedar Park, Texas. He starred on the local Cedar Park High School baseball team. The 2015 graduate of Cedar Park High School was named the District 25-5A Pitcher of the Year and to the All-State Team, as awarded by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association. In his senior year, Paddack was a perfect 11-0 and sported an ERA of 0.46, the lowest ERA in Cedar Park history. In 75.1 innings, Paddack struck out 134 batters.

The Miami Marlins selected Paddack in the eighth round of the 2015 MLB Draft. Paddack opted to forgo his commitment to Texas A&M, accept a signing bonus of $400,000, and begin his professional career. He debuted with the Gulf Coast Marlins in the summer of 2015, logging a 2.18 ERA in 45.1 innings. In the midst of his first full season of professional baseball in 2016, Paddack was traded to the San Diego Padres for Fernando Rodney. While Rodney went on to struggle with the Marlins, Paddack was diagnosed with a torn UCL after only three starts with the Padres Low-A affiliate. Tommy John Surgery forced him to miss all of the 2017 season. The trade of these players quickly became an afterthought, a wash for both sides with no real winner or loser. So we thought.

Despite missing a year of development, Paddack returned in 2018 in an impressive fashion. A well-earned midseason promotion from High-A to Double-AA was taken in stride as he posted an impressive 1.91 ERA in seven starts at Double-AA. More notably, his strikeout and walk statistics continued to impress the Padres front office. In 90 innings across two levels in 2018, his first year back after missing a season due to Tommy John, Paddack record 120 strikeouts and surrendered only 8 walks. After the season, the Padres added Paddack to their 40-man roster. Two weeks ago, Paddack’s hard work culminated in the moment that he was told that he made the Opening Day Roster before being removed from his last Spring Training start. 

For his first career major league start, Paddack made his presence known from the moment he arrived at the ballpark. Channeling his Texas upbringing, Paddack showed up to the ballpark donning a cowboy hat, boots, and sunglasses to go with his black suit. Suited, booted and ready to debut… pic.twitter.com/WYT9DfQWKP— San Diego Padres (@Padres) March 31, 2019

His quick rise through the system and lack of expectations to make the roster left even the San Diego Padres surprised. At the time of his debut, there were no Paddack jerseys available in stores yet. As a result, his friends and family could be seen here at Petco Park sporting not Paddack’s jersey, but rather Cowboy hats and boots. Chris Paddack’s friends and family here to take in his major league debut, donning cowboy hats and boots in lieu of Paddack jerseys, which aren’t available yet.

It is easy to forget that Paddack is one of San Diego’s most highly touted prospects simply because they have so many of them. Paddack ranked fifth on the most recent list of the Padres’ Top 30 Prospects and 32nd overall for the 2019 season. 

Newly acquired Manny Machado has certainly taken much of the mainstream spotlight, but Paddack and fellow rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. are what the future of Padres’ baseball is all about. Paddack pitches with emotion and has the perfect stage to do it, a young team that is looking to change the culture. He is just the first of the many talented Padres prospects to make an impression on the league this year. As part of a rotation that does not include a single starter that has pitched a full season at the major league level, Paddack’s case to be the ace of the staff is as good as anybody’s.

Featured Photo: San Diego Padres twitter account @Padres

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Nick Mailman

Mathematics major and baseball player at Wheaton College (IL)

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