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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, May 11, 2019 9:00 pm

TinCaps add starting pitcher

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

With ace Ryan Weathers still on the injured list, the San Diego Padres provided a new starter for Fort Wayne's matchup tonight against Beloit.

The TinCaps are going for the sweep and they will send 20-year-old right-hander Sam Keating to the mound for his first Midwest League start. To make room for Keating, who was promoted from extended spring training, the Padres sent reliever Dan Dallas to extended spring.

Keating was a high selection in the 2017 draft, picked No. 108 overall (fourth round) by the Padres. He hasn't lived up to expectations yet, posting a 6.87 ERA in a half-season of rookie ball in 2017 and a 5.20 mark in Tri Cities in 2018. His command was a problem last season as he walked 28 in 55 1/3 innings of work. He only struck out 34, which isn't ideal either for a pitcher with a mid-90s fastball and decent secondary stuff.

Of course, he was also several years younger than the average pitcher in his league in both of his pro seasons and he could improve rapidly in the next several years as he matures physically. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, he's already an imposing presence on the mound, with room to add muscle. He could just be getting a cup of coffee in the Midwest League with Weathers out, or he could stick around for a while to see how he handles a higher level. Tonight's start will be important in determining which direction the Padres go.

That Dallas was the one to be demoted makes some sense. The 21-year-old left-hander has been struggling all season, posting a 5.74 ERA in 10 appearances. He hadn't pitched since May 6 and he was hardly striking out anyone after putting up some very impressive whiff numbers at a couple of levels last season. Dallas is a talented pitcher and showed as much in his brief time with the TinCaps in 2018. He'll be back in Fort Wayne at some point this season and could be an important part of the team's bullpen. He just hasn't had it so far this season.