Currin's Star Rising With Stockton

On Tuesday, Stockton Ports reliever Patrick Currin opened some eyes with a dominating performance in the California League/ Carolina League All-Star Game. Currin struck-out three of four batters in working a perfect 1.1 innings. A year removed from being selected in the 22nd round of the draft, Currin is a pitcher on the rise in the Oakland system.

If movement is the key to success for pitchers, Stockton Ports' closer Patrick Currin should have a long career ahead of him. Hardly any pitch that Currin throws is straight. Currin uses a three-quarters throwing motion to sling pitches that often begin at a hitter's shoulder, only to end up on the outside corner of the plate.

Currin's best pitch is a cross between a curveball and a slider. He also features a mid to high-80s fastball that has biting action.

"My curveball is kind of my go-to pitch. I can throw it early in the count and I can throw it late in the count, just depending on the situation. Some days, my curveball might look more like a slider. Some people might call it a slider, but I call it a curveball," Currin said.

Currin has been using that curveball effectively in the ninth inning for the Ports since he was promoted from Low-A Kane County at the end of April. He allowed four runs in only one-third of an inning in his Ports' debut on April 30, but since that time, he has been nearly unhittable for Stockton.

In his last 15 outings for Stockton, Currin has allowed only two earned runs in 26 innings. He has 29 strikeouts and only seven walks during that stretch and he has converted six saves and has earned a win.

"I've just been pitching to my strengths and have been trying to stay away from the hitters' strengths," Currin said.

Those numbers were enough to earn Currin a spot on the California League All-Star team despite not being in the league for the season's first month. Currin was a late addition to the roster, as he found out about being added to the team after the Ports' game on Saturday.

"It was an honor to be selected. It's been a pretty exciting month. It was exciting to come to Stockton and now make the All-Star team. It has been fun," Currin said.

After playing in two pitcher friendly leagues in the Northwest and Midwest Leagues to begin his career, Currin has noticed a jump in the abilities of the hitters in the notoriously offensive-minded California League.

"It seems like throughout the line-up, guys have a little bit more pop and a little bit more consistency with the bat. You have to make more pitches throughout the line-up, one through nine," Currin said. Currin has had a lot of success since being selected in the 22nd round of the 2006 draft out of UNC-Greensboro. A closer in college, Currin has filled a late-inning role for much of his time as a pro. In 2006, Currin had two saves for the Vancouver Canadians while working the majority of the time in the seventh and eighth innings. He showed good command in Vancouver, striking out 38 and walking only eight in 32 innings.

This season, Currin has moved from being a set-up man to being a closer. He had only one save in Kane County in April, although the Cougars didn't have many save opportunities that month. Since his promotion to Stockton, however, Currin has pitched in the ninth inning on eight separate occasions and has converted on all six of his save opportunities.

Currin says that he feels comfortable in the high-pressure ninth inning role.

"That's the kind of role I was in in college," Currin said.

"They said they wanted to put me out there in pressure situations because they thought I could handle it. I've just kind of gone out there to do what I can do to be the closer."

Despite a slow start to the season, Stockton finished the first half of the season in second place, four games behind first-half division winners San Jose. With a strong finish to the first half, the Ports look poised to make a run at the second-half division title and Currin will be counted on to play a big role in that effort.

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