San Diego Padres: Why Their Pitching Rotation Will Deliver Success in 2013

Chris HaddadContributor IIJune 24, 2012

San Diego Padres: Why Their Pitching Rotation Will Deliver Success in 2013

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    The San Diego Padres have acquired promising talent for both their minor league and Major League Baseball teams.

    Homegrown talent like Keyvius Sampson offer definitive promise for the future, while trade rewards like Edinson Volquez, Clayton Richard, Casey Kelly, Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin have the potential to create one of the top pitching rotations in the National League in 2013.

    To top everything off, the Padres signed a television deal with Fox Sports in 2012 that can bring the club over $1 billion in revenue over the next 20 years. It is clear that the organization is headed for prominence in the very near future.

No. 6: Current Depth Chart, RHP Edinson Volquez and LHP Clayton Richard

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    Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard will anchor the 2013 Padres rotation. 'Anchor' meaning that Volquez should be the ace ('should' being the operative word - if he ever figures out his arsenal) and Richard be the caboose.

    In following slides, the 2-3-4 starters will be addressed and all have higher ceilings and better arsenals than Richard, who is mostly a product of his environment. Taking a look at the MLB landscape, it is easy to see which pitchers are overachieving—many of whom are pitching in the National League West.

No. 5: The K Machine, RHP Keyvius Sampson

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    A 2009 fourth-round draft pick, Keyvius Sampson has a wicked arsenal and has dominated the low minors.

    Still just 21 and pitching in the notoriously strong hitter's league, the Texas League (Double A), Sampson will need at least half of 2013 in the minors to work on his control but could be a late-season or injury call-up for San Diego.

    Most likely he takes the mound in Petco in 2014, but if he slaughters Double or Triple-A next year, then the Padres would be hard-pressed to keep him in the minors. It would be a nice problem to have.

No. 4: The Hype Machine, RHP Casey Kelly

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    Poor Casey Kelly.

    A first-round selection by the Boston Red Sox in 2008, Kelly was traded to the San Diego Padres prior to the 2010 season (along with fellow prospects Reymond Fuentes and Anthony Rizzo) for the Padres' All-Star first baseman and San Diego fan favorite, Adrian Gonzalez.

    Clearly, there has been a lot of pressure on the kid as he's tried to succeed as a professional. A converted shortstop, Kelly has matured slowly in the minors, dealing with bouts of inconsistency.

    He possesses a deep bag of devastatingly good pitches, though his control is sometimes not sharp. If he finishes the second half of 2012 on a strong note, either in Triple-A or up with the big club, then he has an excellent chance of breaking camp in 2013 with San Diego.

No. 3: The Future in the Present, RHP Joe Wieland

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    22-year-old Joe Wieland moved so quickly through the Texas Rangers' farm system that he only needed seven innings in Triple-A Tucson in 2012 to convince the Padres to promote him to San Diego.

    Before getting hurt in May, Wieland had shown some of the positive traits that he displayed in the minors (strong K:BB ratio, low batting average against, low WHIP, excellent K/9) but predictably he did make costly mistakes on which MLB hitters capitalized (1.63 HR/9, which explains why his 4.08 xFIP was so much lower than his 4.76 FIP).

    Cutting down on his home runs and continuing his blazing development will make Wieland one of the leaders of an exceptional pitching staff in 2013 and beyond.

No. 2: Cliff Lee Redux, LHP Robbie Erlin

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    Robbie Erlin is a master craftsman; his tool of choice, a baseball.

    In 300 career minor league innings, the 21-year-old Erlin has surgically carved out a 7.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.0 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9) with a 1.00 WHIP and a 2.61 ERA.

    More impressively, his fastball only works in the 88-90 mph range but with advanced deception skills. Clearly, Erlin has a high ceiling at the Major League level and the potential to headline a dynamic cast of young studs for many years to come.

No. 1: Fox Sports TV Deal, $1.2 Billion over 20 Years

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    The new San Diego Padres TV deal with Fox Sports opens many doors not previously afforded to the team.

    It is worth up to $1.2 billion over 20 years and provides immediate cash benefit to a club who entered the 2012 season with the lowest MLB payroll.

    The new Fox TV deal allows the team to be more aggressive in free agency and construct a roster whose strengths play well to Petco Park and the other cavernous stadiums in the National League West.