The San Diego Padres traded Fernando Rodney to the Marlins on June 30, 2016, for a right-handed Class A pitcher named Chris Paddack. Paddack was absolutely, definitely not hurt in any way at the time of the trade … but made just three starts in San Diego’s system before his elbow blew out, leading to Tommy John surgery that left him on the sidelines for all of 2017. He’s back now and threw on the back fields in Peoria on Saturday, showing most of what he had before the surgery and certainly justifying the trade and the team’s patience with him.
Paddack was throwing 90-92 mph during a live BP session, touching 93 once, with a grade-70 changeup thrown at 78-81 where he has tremendous arm speed. He has a great body and frame, and throws with an arm action that gets him on top of the ball from a three-quarters arm slot; given his 6-foot-4 frame, that means he really gets downhill action on the fastball.
The question about Paddack was and remains his breaking ball. He has a curveball, which came in at 72-75 in Saturday’s outing, and one of the ones he threw at 75 was a solid-average pitch, so he can definitely spin it but has yet to do so consistently enough to call it a viable third pitch. He has the slot for a good curveball, and given the control he already showed before his injury (12 walks, total, in 87 ⅓ pro innings, for a 3.6 percent rate), he has mid-rotation upside.