The San Diego Padres will send rookie right-hander Jesse Hahn to the mound today against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Here's the scoop on Hahn.
Hahn was a college pitcher at Virginia Tech. He had erratic freshman and sophomore seasons, but took a large step forward as a junior in 2010, posting a 3.70 ERA with a 76/20 K/BB in 73 innings. That may sound just OK but he was showing a blistering fastball and greatly improved control. Projected as a first-rounder, he hurt his elbow two days before the draft and fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in the sixth round, where they drafted him knowing he would need Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 2011 on rehab.
He returned in 2012 with a 2.77 ERA and a 55/15 K/BB in 52 innings for Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League. He made 19 starts for High-A Charlotte in the Florida State League in '13 with a 63/18 K/BB in 67 innings, then was traded to the Padres this past winter. In '14 he has a 2.20 ERA in 32 innings with Double-A San Antonio, a 28/11 K/BB, and a 2.25 GO/AO.
Born July 30, 1989, the 6-5, 190 pound right-hander shows a low-to-mid-90s sinker, a big-breaking power curveball, and a decent changeup. He's come a long way with his command compared to his early days in college, and when he's right he looks like a number three starter, sometimes (at his very best) even more than that. Durability is his main concern: dating back to college, he's never thrown more than 73 innings in a season. The Rays kept him on a pretty short leash and the Padres haven't pushed him much either: he's thrown five innings only once this year.
Keys to watch for his debut: does he command his breaking ball against big league hitters? Does he tire easily or lose velocity as the game progresses? There's no real question about Hahn's stuff, but we need to see what kind of workload he can bear.