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What to expect from San Diego Padres rookie Luis Perdomo

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Denis Poroy, Getty Images

San Diego Padres rookie Luis Perdomo got roughed up by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Opening Day, giving up six hits, two walks, and six runs in one inning of work. Subsequent outings on April 6th and April 9th were more successful, but as a Rule 5 guy the Padres have to keep him on the roster all year or risk losing him to his original team (the Cardinals).

Can Perdomo stick, and what is his long-term outlook?

First, the basics from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:

Luis Perdomo, RHP, San Diego Padres
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 185 DOB: May 9, 1993

Signed by the Cardinals in 2010 from the Dominican Republic, Luis Perdomo was selected by the Rockies in the 2015 Rule 5 draft then was traded to the Padres. His track record is inconsistent but he made a lot of progress in ’15, improving his mechanics and control while sharpening his slider. His fastball is reasonably fast at 92-94 MPH (that’s the report I had from the Midwest League, other public reports say he’s hit 97) and there’s good sinking action on the pitch, limiting his home run vulnerability. His change-up is useable and could improve further. Perdomo has a chance to be a fourth starter if he does a bit more with the change-up and maintains the momentum he built up last year. Grade C+.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:

Perdomo threw eight innings in spring training. He fanned nine but was otherwise hit quite hard, giving up three walks, 18 hits, and 13 runs. Still, the Padres saw enough to bring him north; whether he holds the job or not all year remains to be seen.

Talent-wise he's intriguing, with a fastball at 90-95 MPH (averaging 93) so far. Press reports said he hit 95-97 last summer, but the personal report data I had said 92-94. He is averaging 93 in the majors, so the lower velocity report seems more valid. His breaking ball, thrown in the 82-86 range, is officially called a slider but Pitch F/x perceives it as a curveball. He also has a change-up. He is very much a ground ball pitcher and his stuff is lively, so it is understandable why the Padres were interested in him.

Perdomo's reputation in the Cardinals system was as a raw arm still trying to make the transition from thrower to pitcher. What's happened this spring, for both good and bad, fits perfectly into that narrative. He needs innings more than anything but as a Rule 5 guy those may be hard to come by.

My expectation is that Perdomo will flash considerable natural ability this year but will also have games where he gets blown up badly. If the Padres want to keep him, the ideal thing would be to use him in mop-up relief, the 12th man on the staff avoiding high-leverage situations.

Long-term, if his development is not short-circuited by injury or being pushed too fast, he could develop into a viable middle reliever or back-of-the-rotation starter.