By Rich Arleo
CBS Local Sports, in our 30 Players 30 Days spring training feature, profiles one young player from each Major League Baseball team leading up to opening day.
Colin Rea, Starting Pitcher, San Diego Padres
2015 season (Minors): 18 G, 18 GS, 101 2/3 IP, 1.95 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 5 W, 80 SO, 23 BB
2015 season (Majors): 6 G, 6 GS, 31 2/3 IP, 4.26 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 2 W, 26 SO, 11 BB
A team that underwent a major rebuild last offseason that was supposed to set them up to be immediate competitors, the Padres finished with a disappointing 74 wins after a few moves by new general manager AJ Preller fell flat. The Padres made a few moves this offseason to erase some wrongs and try to push reset on the rebuild, and while their farm system is far from stocked, they will look to a couple of rookies to make an impact this year, and one of them is 25-year-old right-hander Colin Rea.
Rea was a 12th-round draft pick of the Padres in 2011 and has never had an extremely high ceiling, but following an impressive Minor League performance last year, Rea got a taste at the bigs and showed some signs that he could be a contributor in the middle of San Diego’s rotation.
It was a bit of a struggle in the Minors for Rea the first few years, as his 3.88 ERA at Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore in 2014 was his best up to that point since debuting in pro ball in ‘11. But last season, Rea began to make a quick push towards the bigs.
Beginning the year at Double-A San Antonio, Rea posted a 1.80 ERA in 12 starts with 60 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 75 innings. He couldn’t quite replicate the success when he moved up to Triple-A, but he didn’t completely falter either and managed to receive a callup to the bigs in August. While Rea wasn’t able to give the Padres a ton of innings in each start, he also never gave up more than four earned runs in any start. He finished the year with his best big league outing, giving up only two hits with three walks in seven scoreless innings.
For the most part, Rea showed the strong command he had in the Minors during his time in San Diego. The righty won’t blow away hitters, as his four-seam fastball averages about 91 miles per hour, according to Fangraphs’ PITCHf/x data. Rea uses deception to fool hitters, adding a two-seam fastball and cutter to his repertoire to go along with the four-seamer. In addition to the three types of fastballs, Rea will throw in a looping curveball and sometimes a slider, all of which have been effective at each level as long as he maintains his command.
Rea was inconsistent this spring, but he did enough to win a rotation spot, and he and second baseman Cory Spangenberg will have a chance to make a major impact in San Diego as rookies in 2016.
Rich Arleo is a freelance sports writer and editor who covers Major League Baseball and fantasy sports. You can follow him on Twitter, @Rarleo.