Padres' Perdomo aims to beat the odds

Promising prospect faces uphill battle to crack rotation

Padres' Perdomo aims to beat the odds

SAN DIEGO -- There's no shortage of intriguing pitching candidates who will gather at the Padres' Spring Training complex in Arizona on Feb. 16, each armed with the hope of earning a spot on the team's 25-man roster.

Few are more fascinating than 22-year-old right-hander Luis Perdomo, who was plucked from the Cardinals in the Rule 5 Draft in December.

Perdomo, who immediately became the Padres' ninth-best prospect, hasn't pitched an inning above Class A, and on paper alone, he looks like a long shot to survive the entire season on the big league roster.

Don't tell that to Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley, who had the opportunity to watch Perdomo last week during the team's three-day minicamp for 16 of San Diego's top prospects.

"He's really interesting," Balsley said. "There's no reason in the world why this kid won't pitch in the big leagues, from what I've seen on video. He has a good arm stroke, good velocity and his secondary pitches are good. It's just a matter of him executing those pitches."

Perdomo, who is from the Dominican Republic, had a breakout season in 2015 in the Cardinals' system, establishing a career high in innings (126 2/3) with 118 strikeouts in two Minor League stops. Perdomo pitched in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Cincinnati, where he showcased a 97-mph fastball.

"That was a big step for me," Perdomo said through an interpreter of playing in the Futures Game.

The Padres took notice and went to some lengths to acquire Perdomo during the Rule 5 Draft on the last day of the Winter Meetings, as the Rockies selected him with the fourth overall pick with the plan to then send him to San Diego. He has to remain on the team's 25-man roster the entire season or be offered back to the Cardinals.

"Perdomo is a really good body, good athlete, throws in the mid-90s," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller, who indicated Perdomo will be given a chance to start in Spring Training. "We've seen him start. He has a really good arm. It's going to be a jump, but he's got talent, and that's a good place to start from."

It won't be easy for Perdomo. San Diego's starting rotation appears almost complete at the first four spots with James Shields, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner and Brandon Maurer, who is moving from the bullpen to the rotation.

There could be a chance for the Padres to stash Perdomo in the bullpen, although the team has loaded up on arms in an attempt at rebuilding the bullpen from where it was a year ago. The competition will make winning a job tough.

"There's really not many nerves," Perdomo said last week through an interpreter as he was asked of the steep odds awaiting him. "I'm excited for the opportunity. It's a chance to showcase what I can do. There's a lot of work to be done.

"But I'm very excited. I'm very blessed for the opportunity to be here."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.