No. 3 Padres prospect Patiño keeps aiming high

July 7th, 2020

Prized Padres prospect found a way to use baseball’s hiatus to continue his development.

After his first big league Spring Training was canceled in mid-March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the 20-year-old right-hander from Barranquilla, Colombia traveled to Miami, where he trained with his fellow countryman and idol, Cubs lefty José Quintana.

“Spending time with someone I used to watch on television, and to train with that person, it’s something incredible that I never thought would happen to me as a young guy,” Patiño said in Spanish during a Zoom call on Sunday.

“José Quintana is like a father to me. He gave me the chance to go to his house and train with him. It was incredible. I never complained to him about anything. I always got up in the morning enthusiastic about working with him.

“I learned a lot of things -- his calmness, his patience, his way of thinking. It’s going to help me be a better ballplayer, thanks to those little things that he does that I didn’t think were important. Now I know that they are important.”

Had it not been for the pandemic, it’s possible that Patiño might already have made his Major League debut. He likely would have begun the season in the Minor Leagues with an eye on being called up later in the year. The crisis caused by COVID-19 changed everything.

Patiño, ranked third in the Padres’ system and 27th overall by MLB Pipeline, was included in the team’s 60-man player pool along with lefty MacKenzie Gore, the game’s top pitching prospect. Depending on how they look during Summer Camp, both could be considered for a variety of roles.

Patiño has appeared in 50 games in his Minor League career, including 48 starts, in which he’s held opposing batters to a .208 average. Last year, he went 6-8 with a 2.57 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) between Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and Double-A Amarillo. In 94 2/3 innings, he stuck out 123 batters while walking only 38.

Padres manager Jayce Tingler says it’s too soon to determine exactly how Patiño might be used this year, but noted that all options are on the table.

“I think the main thing is we want to build him up, stretch him out so he’s capable of starting, he’s capable of doing long relief work and he’s capable of coming in and getting maybe one or two hitters out in short relief,” Tingler said. “What we don’t want to do is prepare for the last [scenario]. If we just get him ready for one-inning stints, that’s really all he can do. Our goal is to build him up, get experience, and we’ll go from there.”

Regardless of what happens this year, Patiño, who pitched in last year’s Futures Game in Cleveland, has already accomplished one of his goals, which was to rank among baseball’s top prospects.

“From the moment I signed with the Padres, I always set goals. One of them, above all, was to be one of the best players from my country,” said Patiño. “It was also about expanding baseball in Colombia, where I come from. For me, it was always a goal to be on those prospect lists.”

Patiño’s current objective is to make the Padres’ initial 30-man Opening Day roster and help the team get to the playoffs in a shortened 60-game season that is slated to begin on July 24.

“Aside from making the team, what I want to do is enjoy the moment,” Patiño said.