The Padres drafted a fourth player, albeit in the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft when they selected Trevor Frank, a right-handed reliever out of the Cleveland organization. Unlike the three players drafted before him, Frank can be sent to the minors without being offered back to his previous organization.
Frank, 25, hails from El Cajon, CA, where attended Valhalla High School. After starring as a pitcher/infielder in East County, Frank went on to pitch for UC Riverside and was selected in the 8th round of 2013 MLB Draft.
“I was definitely a Padres fan growing up. I grew up watching Trevor Hoffman and getting to walk through the locker room was really special,” said Frank, via telephone shortly after his acquisition by San Diego.
Frank spent the 2016 season pitching for High-A Lynchburg and appeared in 44 games out of the pen, and posted a solid 2.47 ERA and a very impressive 0.91 WHIP. Despite the successful season, Frank didn’t give much consideration to the chances of being selected in the Rule 5 draft.
“The possibility of being selected (in the Rule 5 Draft) was never really brought up. I hoped to be put on the (40-man) roster with Cleveland but it didn’t happen. I went to the (Arizona) Fall League to pitch and hopefully be seen a bit.”
Frank found himself on the Padres’ radar and although his AFL numbers weren't great (11.88 ERA in 8.1 innings pitched) he worked with a former Padre on his secondary stuff.
“(Former Padre starting pitcher) Brian Lawrence was my pitching coach in the Fall League and he helped me work on a change-up. I felt comfortable throwing it this fall.”
Frank’s repertoire features a low-90’s fastball that can be humped up to 95 mph and a slider that has improved as a professional.
“My fastball is a four-seamer that has good movement. I like to run it into guys. My slider started as more of a cutter but it has gotten a lot tighter over time.”
Frank has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen as a professional, after being converted to a reliever during his senior season at UC Riverside. It was a move that gave Frank an opportunity to play professional baseball.
“As a starter, for whatever reason, I had trouble getting out of the sixth inning. I am not really sure why - but if I got past the sixth, I was usually good. I don’t think it was a matter of fatigue or anything - I didn’t really have that ‘plus’ second pitch. I didn’t figure that out until I became a professional.
During my senior year, I would often pitch out of the ‘pen on Tuesday games. I found that I enjoyed it and it made pitching more fun. I wish I would have been moved to the bullpen sooner.”
Frank’s journey through baseball took him out of the sunshine state for the first time during the summer of 2010 when he spent a summer pitching for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots, a college summer league located in America’s 49th state.
“It was awesome. I lived with a host family and the experience helped get me ready to pitch every day. It was really hard to fall asleep at first, though.
To my surprise there were a lot of fans at the games -- most games I pitched in were packed. There aren’t a lot of opportunities to see baseball played up there but the people seemed like they were really into it.”
As a reliever, Frank saw his control improve immensely and his strikeouts increased as well. Last season Frank had a nine-to-one strikeout-to-walk-ratio, which Frank credits more to his approach.
“I think, for me, it is all about not being scared out there. I am not afraid to go after guys -- get in on their hands and mixing up pitches and locations. I think when guys nibble is when they get hit. I don’t really nibble at the zone -- I try and go right after guys.”
Frank worked as the closer in High-A Lynchburg last season and finished second in the Carolina League with 17 saves, despite not having a big-time fastball.
“I enjoy closing but I am willing to do whatever I can to help the club. I will pitch in any role that is asked of me.
I have talked with (minor league pitching coordinator) Mark Prior a little bit and I am looking forward to learning new things from everyone. The good thing about changing organizations is that you can use the things that work and maybe get a fresh perspective on things that maybe didn’t. I am just looking forward to learning.”
The reliever figures to be in the mix for a bullpen job in the spring but at the very worst, he provides much-needed depth in the minors. Either way, Frank will be ready.
“It has always been a dream of mine to pitch for the Padres and pitch for the team I watched growing up. I am excited for the chance given to me.”