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Padres call up prospect Luis Patiño

@AJCassavell
August 4, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres think Luis Patiño will be a staple in their rotation for years to come. But the right-hander will begin his career as a part of their bullpen -- starting Tuesday night. The club promoted Patiño, MLB Pipeline's No. 27 overall prospect, ahead of Tuesday's game

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres think Luis Patiño will be a staple in their rotation for years to come. But the right-hander will begin his career as a part of their bullpen -- starting Tuesday night.

The club promoted Patiño, MLB Pipeline's No. 27 overall prospect, ahead of Tuesday's game against the Dodgers. It’s another show of strength from one of the sport’s deepest farm systems.

Patiño was informed of his callup before Monday’s game, and he hasn’t pitched since Saturday, making him available right away if needed. San Diego optioned right-hander David Bednar to its alternate training site in a corresponding move.

“Even though I was expecting it for some time, you still never really know when that moment’s going to come,” Patiño said. “So when I got the news, I was still a bit surprised. But it was great. This is the moment I’ve been working for since I signed in 2016. It’s the goal that I’ve had. It’s really great to see the fruits of my labor coming to fruition here, knowing all the work that I’ve put in is being realized.”

According to those in attendance at the team's Summer Camp and alternate site, Patiño has been lights-out since MLB restarted last month. He might not be thrown into the fire immediately, but team officials expect Patiño to pitch high-leverage innings this season.

“He’s on a roll right now,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “He’s got a lot of flexibility in his game. ... He can give us length, he can give us a short burst.”

Tingler acknowledged that it’s still possible Patiño cracks the starting rotation this season. He might even do so on Friday. No starting pitcher has been named yet for that game, and Tingler expects to choose one based on the team’s bullpen needs in the next two days. If Patiño doesn’t pitch against the Dodgers, he instantly becomes an option for the series opener against the D-backs.

Patiño owns a 2.35 ERA across parts of three seasons in the Minor Leagues with 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He's only pitched two games in relief, but he spent a decent chunk of camp serving in that role, pitching in 1-2 inning bursts out of the 'pen during intrasquad games.

Naturally, Patiño's arrival raises the question of when fellow prospect MacKenzie Gore might arrive. Gore, MLB Pipeline's top overall pitching prospect, is 21 and has taken largely the same path as the 20-year-old Patiño. But Gore hasn't been quite the standout that Patiño has been this summer, plus the Padres feel Patiño's stuff might play up in the bullpen.

“It’s the same baseball; it’s the same game,” Patiño said. “Whether you’re in Colombia, whether you’re in the Minors, whether you’re in the big leagues, it’s the same game. I need to go out there and do what I’ve always done. I need to throw strikes. I need to attack. I need to make good pitches. I need to get through innings as efficiently as possible.”

Patiño was one of the less heralded signings during the Padres’ 2016-17 international spree. While the Padres spent big on prospects like Adrian Morejon and Jorge Oña, Patiño signed for $130,000.

The hard-throwing right-hander expressed immense pride at making the big leagues from his native Colombia. One of his first phone calls went to countryman Jose Quintana, the veteran Cubs left-hander. When the coronavirus pandemic shut down Spring Training in March, Patiño trained with Quintana in Miami, and he credits those workouts for his success this summer.

“I’m very proud to be another face that shows that Colombia has that quality, has that game,” Patiño said. “In Colombia, we think of ourselves more as a soccer country, maybe not necessarily a baseball country. I’m proud of myself for being here. But hopefully it’s not only a personal thing. Hopefully I can open doors and show there is talent there.”

Unlike with past Padres callups, there’s no soft landing available for Patiño. San Diego finally feels as though it has built a contender in the National League West. Thus, Patiño will be thrust into what the team considers an early August playoff push.

Patiño wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s what we all dream,” Patiño said. “Everybody dreams of pitching, playing in the postseason, winning a World Series. To be up here, to have been brought up early in the season to help the team win and compete and reach that goal -- it’s really a special thing for me. It fills me with pride. It motivates me. I’m blessed to have that opportunity.”

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.