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Law: Padres prospect Patino shows off electric stuff

Melissa Oporto

San Diego right-hander Luis Patino was No. 50 on my top 100 this past winter on the strength of his electric stuff, but his outing on Wednesday in Peoria, Arizona, against the Royals' high-A team was my first opportunity to see him live. His stuff truly is electric -- I'm not sure there's a better adjective to describe it -- although I can also see reasons to pump the brakes a little bit on his prospect hype, given his size and delivery.

Patino, born in Barranquilla, Colombia, was at 93-96 mph on Wednesday with absurd spin on the pitch and some natural cut. I could actually see the spin on the ball (sorry, I can't measure spin rate with my eyes ... yet), which I can't remember happening with any prospect before, and his fastball moves enough that I had to ask if he was trying to cut it (he's not). His entire arsenal is strong, though -- his 82-83 mph slider breaks like a whiffle ball, although he also showed he could shorten it up to keep it in the zone, and he throws an upper-80s changeup with hard tumble like a split-change even though it's a traditional grip. His only pitch that wasn't obviously above average was his upper-70s curveball, but it's average and he throws it for strikes, making it more useful in the context of his other weapons.

Patino's arm is incredibly quick, but there is some effort to the delivery, especially at release when he can't keep his head steady. He has great balance over the rubber, with a very old-fashioned full windup, and gets big extension out over his front side -- so now imagine that 94 mph fastball moving like no fastball you've ever faced before, and it's coming out of his hand a little closer to your face than you're used to seeing. He cuts himself off a little bit, so there's some cross-body action to his delivery, but it likely also gives him deception against righties. Best of luck, hitters.