Righthander Jairo Iriarte threw a career-high 91.1 innings last year at Low-A Lake Elsinore. He was up to 61 innings at High-A Fort Wayne this year when he was promoted to Double-A San Antonio’s bullpen to allow the Padres to manage his workload.
Not that there isn’t a curiosity to see what Iriarte’s stuff looks like in short bursts.
So far, so good.
The 21-year-old struck out 10 of the first 25 batters he faced and allowed three hits and one walk over seven shutout innings since a July promotion to the Texas League.
“He really embraces challenges,” Padres assistant farm director Mike Daly said. “He’s hungry and he’s smart, and that goes a long way—and he has feel. We’ve seen him make improvements over the past year with his ability to throw strikes with his fastball, and his velocity has ticked up with his slider.”
Last season Iriarte walked 4.1 per nine innings and recorded a 5.12 ERA in the California League. With Fort Wayne this year, his walk rate remained the same but his ERA fell to 3.10.
At San Antonio his mid-90s fastball sat 97 mph out of the bullpen. He also throws a mid-80s slider as his chief secondary pitch and was continuing to develop a 91 mph slider as a weapon he’ll need in the rotation, especially against lefthanded hitters.
While the bullpen has always been viewed as a landing spot for Iriarte, who signed for $75,000 in 2018 out of Venezuela, the Padres have not given up on him in the rotation.
“His fastball’s really good. His slider’s improved and he’s in the zone more,” Daly said. “He’s matured. His body has gotten in much better shape. His shoulders are wider. He’s got good strength and he moves very well . . .
“I think he really opened up eyes at the end of camp . . . and in Fort Wayne to earn the opportunity there in San Antonio.”
— Other promotions to Double-A San Antonio included 20-year-old shortstop Jackson Merrill and righthander Adam Mazur, last year’s second-round pick. The latter worked in the bullpen for the time being after going 4-1 with a 2.02 ERA, 47 strikeouts and a 1.03 WHIP in 58 innings to start the year at High-A Fort Wayne.
— Lefthander Robby Snelling struck out 22 against six walks in his first 18.2 innings for High-A Fort Wayne. The 19-year-old had a 1.92 ERA in 70.1 innings for Low-A Lake Elsinore and Fort Wayne since the Padres made him the 39th overall pick last summer.