As the third highest ranked prospect in the Houston Astros organization, many people around the organization as well as fans had high expectations for David Paulino when he made his debut back on May 31 in Minneapolis. While many will probably admit that Paulino's call up to the majors was forced or rushed due to injuries at the top of the depth chart, the Astros still believed that the young pitcher could produce at the major league level.
So far, however, the production has not been there for Paulino. Over the course of his first three major league starts, Paulino has done a nice job getting outs in the first few innings before struggling in the middle innings and failing to go deep into ballgames. While Paulino has avoided damage in the first few innings, his pitch counts have caused him trouble.
Starting pitchers experience trouble with this aspect of the game a lot, as it is a big adjustment to not only retire major league hitters but also make sure you do not throw too many pitches while cruising through innings. This has resulted in Paulino not getting through more than five and two thirds innings for the Astros in any of his three starts.
Coming up through the minor leagues, Paulino's control was never highly touted by scouts or in minor league reports. He was always known for having improved his fastball as he grew and matured, but his control always needed improvement and the expectation was that as he worked through more innings in professional ball, his control would improve over time.
There is no doubt that Paulino's control will improve at some point, and I am sure that he is working tirelessly with Astros pitching coach Brent Strom in order to tweak his mechanics and other aspects of his game. This sense of urgency was definitely not what the team would have liked to see in Paulino's development, but injuries are a part of the game and the Astros realize that they will need to get their young prospects ready sooner rather than later sometimes.
The good news is that Paulino will get more major league experience to work through these issues, as long as he steps up and delivers one or two solid starts. The Astros entire starting rotation will not be on the disabled list forever (hopefully), and Paulino's opportunities will fade away as the regular guys return.
With other pitchers such as Mike Fiers, Brad Peacock, and Francis Martes stepping up on the mound for the Astros, it is Paulino's turn to answer the bell and deliver a solid start for Houston. Due to the rapid emergence of the organization's #1 prospect in Martes, Astros fans will quickly forget about Paulino if he does not produce good starts soon.
Paulino will have to remind Astros fans that he has the potential to be a dominant pitcher in the major leagues as well, and he will have his next chance to that tonight on a national stage against the 38-29 Boston Red Sox.