The TinCaps have just six games remaining in their regular season and they hold a one-game lead in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Division. They've been handicapped in that race by turnover in their pitching rotation, which has only one starter – Tom Cosgrove – who was on the roster on Opening Day.
On Wednesday, the Fort Wayne pitching carousel continued to churn, with the team announcing that 18-year-old phenom Luis Patiño and lights-out reliever Dylan Coleman would be sent to the Arizona League Padres in rookie ball to finish their seasons.
Patiño has been one of the best pitchers in the Midwest League since he stormed on to the scene in mid-May. The right-hander, who was the youngest pitcher in the league for a good portion of the season, went 6-3 with a 2.16 ERA that was third in the league among pitchers with at least 80 innings worked. He gave up one or fewer earned runs in a remarkable 15 of his final 18 starts with the TinCaps and hit 99 mph with his fastball. Patiño has reached his Padres-mandated innings limit for the season. He'll likely be back with the TinCaps or in High-A Lake Elsinore to start next season.
Coleman, a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft, only pitched 16 2/3 innings with the TinCaps, but he was dominant in that time, striking out 22 and holding opponents to a .219 batting average. At 21, he could be on a fast track to the upper levels of the minors, so I'd expect him to start at High-A next year if all goes according to plan.
To replace the two departed hurlers on the roster, the Padres have elevated left-handed starter Joey Cantillo and right-handed reliever Nick Kuzia to Fort Wayne. Patiño was scheduled to start Thursday against Lake County, so Cantillo will likely make his Midwest League debut then. Like Patiño, Cantillo is an 18-year-old who has been outstanding in rookie ball. The 2017 16th-round pick went 2-2 with a 2.18 ERA in 45 1/3 innings with the AZL Padres and struck out 58 while walking just 12. The Padres thought highly enough of Cantillo to give him a $302,000 signing bonus to forego a baseball scholarship at Kentucky and instead begin his pro career immediately. That bonus amount is the suggested total for a fifth-round pick.
The 22-year-old Kuzia, who will likely pitch out of the bullpen, has been at Tri-City and struck out more than a batter per inning in 22 appearances for the Dust Devils. His 4.26 ERA is mediocre, but he gave up just one home run in 31 2/3 innings. Like Cantillo, he entered pro baseball in 2017, but was undrafted out of UMass-Lowell.
The TinCaps take on Lake County at 7:05 p.m. today at Parkview Field.