Roach looks to extend innings limit
Club's 15th ranked prospect will likely start season at Double-A San Antonio
PEORIA, Ariz. -- There were few regrets to be had in 2012 for Donn Roach, a right-handed pitcher who was traded from the Angels' organization to the Padres on May 3.
Roach, 23, went a combined 11-2 with a 1.88 ERA in three Minor League stops a year ago that included his promotion from the Class A California League to the Double-A Texas League.
Heck, Roach -- the No. 15 prospect in the Padres' system according to MLB.com -- even got married in October.
It was, really, almost the perfect season, Roach thought. If only it hadn't ended so early, as he made his last appearance for San Antonio on July 13.
It wasn't an injury or a health concern that ended his season, but precaution, as the Padres capped his innings at 105 1/3, a significant bump from the 70 1/3 innings he threw in 2011.
"I just wish I could have pitched longer," Roach said. "Hopefully I will [in 2013]. I understand it, but it's frustrating, because you're throwing well and you want to keep going. I felt like I had just got to Double-A and had only thrown, like, 14 innings."
Roach wasn't far off. After his to San Antonio in June, he appeared in four games and threw 17 innings before the team shut him down.
The Padres think that Roach, who has been slowed with a sore left hamstring early in camp, can pitch in upwards of 140 innings this season.
There are some in the organization that wouldn't be surprised if he reaches San Diego by the end of the season.
"He's pretty advanced for his age. The sinker is a well above-average pitch, and his secondary pitches are good, too," said Randy Smith, the Padres' vice president of player development and international scouting. "It's tough for hitters to get the ball in the air off of him. To me, he's very advanced for his experience."
The Padres have high hopes for Roach this season, as he'll likely begin the season with San Antonio but could move fast thereafter thanks in large part to his bowling-ball sinker that, more often than not, can get ground ball after ground ball. It's a plus-pitch that keeps getting better.
"I didn't start throwing anything that really moved until my second year of college, but even then, I only used it once in a while," Roach said. "My first year or pro ball, I started to use it more."
Roach, a Las Vegas native, had a 7.84 ERA in 2009 at the University of Arizona. Roach later transferred to College of Southern Nevada, where he went 12-3 with a 2.67 ERA. The Angels then selected him with their third-round pick in the in 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Roach began last season with the Angels' Class A affiliate in Inland Empire, going 5-0 with a 2.16 ERA in five starts. Then in May, while the team was in Rancho Cucamonga, he was called into the manager's office.
"Honestly, we had just gotten into Rancho [Cucamonga] and the manager called me into his office. … I thought I might be getting called up to Double-A, but he was on the phone with [Angels assistant general manager] Scott Servais, who told me I've been traded," Roach said.
"At that point, I was confused. I didn't know what to think at first."
So Roach hopped in his car and drove to Lake Elsinore, the Padres' California League affiliate. Roach had more success there, going 5-1 with a 1.74 ERA in eight games, following the edict he was taught while in the Angels' system, pitching with efficiency.
"The Angels have a huge mentality of three pitches or less," Roach said. "That sort of stuck with me. ... I want them to swing and hit it. Last year was the year it really showed that philosophy really worked for me."