One of the most intriguing September promotions is David Paulino, right-handed pitcher for the Houston Astros. He'll make his major league debut tomorrow against the Cleveland Indians. Here's a quick rundown.
First, basic background pre-season from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
David Paulino, RHP, Houston Astros
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-7 WT: 215 DOB: February 6, 1994
Paulino was originally signed by the Tigers out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. The Tigers traded him to the Astros in the 2013 Jose Veras deal. He missed all of 2014 with Tommy John surgery but came back healthy and effective in 2015, showing a fastball up to 96-97 MPH as well as a plus curve. His change-up still needs work but is stuff is electric and his command isn’t bad given his lack of experience. Paulino is getting some play this winter as an elite prospect but I’d like to see what happens with a larger workload before going that far. He could be a dominant starter or a nasty closer depending on how things pan out. Grade B-.
Paulino was ridiculously effective this year. In 90 innings between brief rookie ball work, Double-A, and Triple-A, Paulino posted a 2.00 ERA with a spectacular 106/19 K/BB and just 72 hits allowed. He missed time with a suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules but his performance was superior in every way.
Stuff-wise there is plenty to like here: his fastball was up to 97-98 MPH in Triple-A. His curveball is now a firm plus pitch, at least a 60 and flashing more. His change-up still needs polish but has improved enough that he can remain a starter, durability allowing. His command and control took a step forward and as noted you can't knock the stats.
The main concern for Paulino remains long-term durability; he's never exceeded 90 innings so we'll have to see how he handles a full starter's workload. We'll also have to see if the mysterious suspension augers a longer-term makeup issue, though at his age he has plenty of time to mature. Gradewise he is now at least a B+ and you can make a good case for an A-.