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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Luis Patino worked five innings and earned a win in his first start with the TinCaps against West Michigan on Wednesday. The 18-year-old struck out four and allowed just one run.

Thursday, May 17, 2018 1:00 am

TinCaps 3 West Michigan 2

Newest TinCap dazzles in mound debut

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

TinCaps vs. West Michigan

When: 7:05 p.m. today

Where: Parkview Field

Pitchers: Aaron Leasher (TinCaps) vs. Jesus Rodriguez (Whitecaps)

TV: Xfinity 81

Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM

Tuesday night, the San Diego Padres promoted 18-year-old right-hander Luis Patino to the TinCaps. Wednesday morning, he made his first appearance in the Midwest League and outpitched one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.

Patino worked five innings and gave up one earned run on five hits, striking out four. He touched 96 mph with his fastball, and his performance was enough to get the win in a 3-2 TinCaps victory at Parkview Field in front of an announced crowd of 7,512.

The right-hander commanded all of his pitches well and mixed in a 78 mph curveball to go along with the high-velocity fastball. Manager Anthony Contreras said Patino will be in the Fort Wayne (16-22) rotation for the foreseeable future.

“Everything I heard about (Patino) coming into today was positive,” Contreras said. “The talent that he is, the person, the makeup, everything like that, it played out on the field. I was excited to see him just compete. ... Everybody talked highly about him, and he came as advertised.”

Patino gave up an unearned run in the first inning, partly due to his own error that came when he threw the ball into center field on an attempted pickoff at second base. He cruised through most of the rest of his start, pitching into the sixth before two soft singles and a walk loaded the bases with nobody out and forced him from the game. 

“I was a little excited because it was my first start, but I felt good,” said Patino, who made his first start above rookie ball. “I thank God, my family, my teammates. I feel pretty good.”

The TinCaps led 3-1 when Patino exited in the sixth inning. They scratched out three runs in the early innings against Whitecaps (20-18) starter Matt Manning, who was the No. 9 pick in the 2016 draft and is the No. 51 prospect in baseball, per MLB.com.

Manning was overpowering at times, striking out eight in five innings, but Fort Wayne rallied for a run in the second and two more in the third, totaling five hits and three against the 6-foot-6 right-hander. 

Shortstop Gabriel Arias had an RBI double in the third and 18-year-old Luis Almanzar continued his excellent series. The third baseman walked and scored in the second and singled in a run in the third. He also singled in the seventh.

“I think he'd been waiting to get out of Arizona (at extended spring training),” Contreras said of Almanzar. “You can see the energy in him. Just to be out under the lights – today under the sun – and just have a crowd to play in front of, you can tell he's been kind of itching at the bit to get out and show his talents.”

Patino left the game with the bases loaded and nobody out. The tying run was on second base, but reliever Ben Sheckler quieted the threat, getting the first hitter he saw to bounce into a double play and then getting a ground ball to end the inning. One run scored, but West Michigan's best chance to even the score was gone.

Sheckler pitched three shutout innings and right-hander Jared Carkuff got another double play in the ninth to seal the win and his second save of the season.

dsinn@jg.net