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Notes: Pitching prospect debuts, Myers on a roll

@AJCassavell
March 3, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres have spent the past few years dreaming on pitching prospects Luis Patiño and MacKenzie Gore. This week, it's finally time to see how their stuff plays against big league hitters. Patiño is slated for his spring debut on Wednesday against the Royals, with Gore set

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres have spent the past few years dreaming on pitching prospects Luis Patiño and MacKenzie Gore. This week, it's finally time to see how their stuff plays against big league hitters.

Patiño is slated for his spring debut on Wednesday against the Royals, with Gore set to follow Thursday against Seattle. Both are scheduled to appear in relief, San Diego manager Jayce Tingler said on Tuesday.

The highly touted pitching prospects have been taking part in live sessions on back fields at Padres camp. But they've yet to appear in any games, as the Padres have chosen to slow-play their prospect duo.

"They've had the experience of being around the Major League staff, the Major League players, going through all the drills, getting a feel for how everything goes," Tingler said. "My expectations are: They've done their prep, they've done their work, now we want them to go out and enjoy their game and pitch their game."

Gore is the top-ranked pitching prospect and the reigning MLB Pipeline Pitcher of the Year. He posted a 1.69 ERA at Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and Double-A Amarillo last season, while striking out 12 hitters per nine innings. At those same two levels, Patiño (MLB Pipeline's No. 27 overall prospect) notched a 2.57 mark with 11.7 K/9.

It's very unlikely that either of the two makes a push for a spot on the Opening Day roster. But they're clearly an integral part of the team's future. The Padres' decision to build them up slowly this spring might ultimately speak to the team's belief that they'll make an impact on the big league club later in the year.

"That's a process, and you've got to believe in the process," Patiño said of the slow build-up this spring. "The pitching coach, the staff have something for me. I'm working hard in practice, in bullpens, in live BP. So when they give me an opportunity to pitch in the game, I'll enjoy the moment and be Luis Patiño."

The Padres were mostly quiet on the starting-pitching front this winter -- to the surprise of many outside the organization. That strategy was largely because they didn't want to block opportunity for Gore and Patiño when they're ready. In fact, the Padres fortified their bullpen, partly in hopes of offering a soft landing for their young starters.

But that plan is for another day. First, Patiño and Gore have a spring debut to make. Their primary task, Tingler said, will be to throw strikes.

"It starts with throwing the ball over the plate," Tingler said. "That's when we'll find out how their stuff plays. If they're scattered around the zone or not throwing it over, we're not going to find out much. So hopefully they're aggressive and attacking the zone, and those big league hitters will tell them where their stuff's at."

One-hit wonders
The Padres' bullpen has come as advertised this spring. On Tuesday, seven different pitchers combined to one-hit the Brewers, racking up 11 strikeouts in the process. Only starter Garrett Richards allowed a single.

Newly acquired left-hander Drew Pomeranz whiffed two hitters in the third inning, and Jimmy Yacabonis struck out the side in the seventh. Matt Strahm continued his dominant spring with another scoreless outing, and he’s yet to allow a run over 3 2/3 innings.

On the whole, the Padres' 2.53 ERA is the lowest for any team in Spring Training -- by half a run.

Myers goes deep ... again
Wil Myers spent most of the winter at the center of trade speculation. This spring, he's offered a reminder that he's still potentially a very useful piece for the Padres.

Myers launched his third home run of the spring on Tuesday -- a monster shot off the center field batter's eye. He's hitting .313 in the Cactus League with a 1.260 OPS.

As things stand, Myers is slated to share time in right field this season, though he could still play his way into an everyday role again.

Then again, Myers has wowed us with his skill set before. His problem has always been sustaining the hot streaks and minimizing the slumps.

"The challenge is, can you learn from past experiences?" Tingler asked. "Instead of that being a two-week deal, can you shorten that to four or five games? ... It's baseball. We're going to run into cold patches. You just try to avoid the long ones."

Tatis still sidelined
Star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. remains sidelined as he battles the flu, and he's been absent from the complex for the past few days, before checking with the team's doctors in the evening.

"As much as we want him back and to be around, we've got to make sure the doctors can say it's not contagious anymore," Tingler said.

Tatis, who is 1-for-10 with a double this spring, hasn't played since Friday. He's coming off one of the most impressive rookie seasons in franchise history, in which he batted .317/.379/.590 over 83 games.

Up next
Before Patiño's debut, lefty prospect Adrian Morejon will get the ball first against Kansas City. Morejon looked sharp on Thursday against the Angels, working 1 1/3 scoreless innings -- including consecutive strikeouts of Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani. Closer Kirby Yates is also scheduled to make his spring debut, before the right-hander Patiño takes the mound. First pitch is slated for 1:10 p.m. PT at Peoria Stadium.

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