The Padres announced Friday that they’ve claimed right-hander Luis Patiño off waivers from the White Sox, who’d designated him for assignment earlier in the week. It’s a homecoming for Patiño, a former top prospect who was originally signed and developed by the Padres. Their 40-man roster is now up to 33 players.
Now 24 years old, Patiño was traded from San Diego to Tampa Bay alongside catcher Francisco Mejia, minor league catcher Blake Hunt and minor league righty Cole Wilcox in the 2020 trade that brought eventual two-time Cy Young winner Blake Snell to the Padres. At the time of the swap, Patiño was regarded as one of the sport’s very best pitching prospects; he’d scuffled through 17 1/3 innings in his initial call to the Majors the prior season (5.19 ERA, 21-to-14 K/BB ratio), but that debut came at just 20 years of age. Entering the 2020 campaign, each of Baseball America, MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, ESPN and The Athletic had ranked among the top 30 prospects in all of MLB.
As is made clear by the manner in which he’s returning to the Friars, things haven’t panned out for Patiño. The right-hander posted strong numbers in 29 1/3 Triple-A frames in 2021 and also spent the majority of that season on the big league roster in Tampa Bay. It wasn’t a great season by any means, but Patiño did post a 4.31 ERA with a 22.2% strikeout rate and 8.7% walk rate while averaging 96 mph on his heater. For a 21-year-old in his first full MLB campaign — and one who’d barely pitched above A-ball thanks to the canceled 2020 minor league season — it was a reasonably encouraging first foot forward.
From there, however, things went downhill quickly. Patiño suffered a severe oblique strain early in the 2022 campaign, prompting a 60-day IL placement and an absence of more than three months. Upon returning, he showed diminished velocity and far shakier results. Patiño walked more batters than he struck out in 20 MLB frames that year and was limited to 34 Triple-A innings, where he struggled with home runs and was tagged for a 4.50 earned run average.
In 2023, Patiño developed alarming command troubles, walking more nearly 18% of the opponents he faced in Triple-A between the Rays and the White Sox, who acquired him for cash considerations on the day of the trade deadline. In 21 1/3 innings at the MLB level, Patiño posted a 4.57 ERA with an 18.2% strikeout rate and 14.1% walk rate.
He’ll now head back to a Padres club that’s in need of pitching depth after seeing starters Snell, Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill reach free agency in addition to relievers Josh Hader, Luis Garcia and Drew Pomeranz. Clearly, Patiño can’t be counted on like the Padres might have expected in 2021, had he not been traded, but he gives them a still-young arm to plug into the rotation mix or bullpen this spring. Patiño is out of minor league options, it should be noted, meaning he’ll have to either make the Opening Day roster or else be traded or placed on waivers once again.