Astros AM: David Paulino To Make Major League Debut
Leaning on prospects at crucial junctures is a theme for the Houston Astros in 2016.
Key rotation pieces, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, are both out for the foreseeable future. However, the Houston Astros have a contingency plan in place in the form of a promising young arm. His name is David Paulino.
That’s right! The Astros have decided to officially promote their fourth-best prospect per MLB Pipeline. And yes, Paulino was called up despite only throwing 14 innings at the Triple-A level.
As the other half of the Jose Veras to Detroit Tigers trade a few years ago, Paulino has become one of the Astros best minor league arms in the meantime. Though he missed the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery, the 22-year old has seen his stock rise greatly in the past calendar year.
Paulino’s best pitch is arguably his fastball, which can top out around 98 MPH. But he also throws an impressive curve ball that grades out to be above-average per MLB Pipeline. And his changeup has seen steady improvement since his Tommy John surgery. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he is also 6’7″ and weighs about 215 lbs.
In a combined 90.0 innings between three minor league levels (Rk, AA, AAA), the Dominican Republic native has allowed just 20 earned runs with 19 walks while striking out 106 strikeouts. The majority of those innings came as a starter (15 GS), but he has also made five appearances as a reliever.
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Regardless of the role, Paulino has excelled in 2016. And the team hope he can carry over that success in his first major league start Thursday.
Paulino joins a rotation that has seen fellow rookies in Chris Devenski and Joseph Musgrove start games for the Astros this season. And like Devenski and Musgrove, Paulino will have a chance to demonstrate why the team’s minor league system is one of the best in the game.
Of course, leaning on so many young players like the Astros have in 2016 is a double edge sword.
The Astros will have to be careful in their usage of Paulino. After all, it isn’t unheard of to see a herald young pitcher struggle at the major league level first before adjusting. The same can be said of the opposite, however.
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This upcoming start Thursday will not only be an important one for Paulino, but obviously for the Astros as well. The team is currently battling two-fifths of the American League East for the second Wild Card spot along with holding off a few AL Central foes. And then there is the Seattle Mariners lurking not too far behind. Every game at this juncture matters.
**Statistics provided by Baseball Reference**