Traded to the Astros in the deal that sent Jose Veras to the Detroit Tigers in September of 2013, David Paulino has become a top prospect both in the Astros system and in baseball. With some major league innings already under his belt, Paulino is on the cusp of staying on a major league roster for the long term.
Physically, Paulino is one intimidating pitcher. According to minorleagueball.com, the 6’7” right-hander averages his fastball in the mid-to-upper-nineties and has a sharp breaking ball.
Paulino really broke out in 2016 with Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 1.83 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP in 64 innings of work. He struck out 72 and had a batting average against at .204.
This earned him a September call-up to the Astros at the end of 2016. In three appearances, Paulino gave up four earned runs on six hits and three walks, striking out two in seven innings of work.
The major problem for Paulino is durability. Through two starts at Fresno this season, he has only pitched nine innings, striking out 10 with a 3.00 ERA. Yes, part of this was because of a stint on the disabled list at the end of March until the beginning of May. However, it will be interesting to see what the Astros view him as or the future.
Paulino may be the closest pitcher in the Astros system to make a major league roster. However, he does have to figure out what his identity is as a pitcher, whether it is out of the bullpen or as a starter.