Padres Prospect Report: Chris Tierney

Chris Tierney turned 20 on September 1st. As a seventh round draft pick by the Kansas City Royals in the 2001 Draft, he began his career with a shaky start. In 2001, Tierney went 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA allowing 16 earned runs in 22 innings pitched. His WHIP was 1.77 and he struck out 21 in his stint with the Low A Gulf Coast Royals.<br><br> Judd Choate, a former scout for the Royals provides some insight...

Judd Choate served as an associate scout for the Kansas City Royals from 1993-1996.

"Tierney is loaded with potential, but then again so is any 19 year old, 6'6" lefty," Choate said. "I think if you look in the dictionary, that's the definition of "potential."

The Padres acquired Tierney along with Brian Sanches in a deal that sent Rondell White to the Royals on August 26th.

The 225 pound lefthander went 5-11 with a 4.38 ERA in 26 starts for Single-A Wilmington in 2001. He showed potential with his fastball, curveball and changeup, but he's still learning the nuances of pitching. His fastball rests at 90-92 and his changeup and curve are still developmental pitches.

His strikeout-walk ratio was just 73-48 in 127 innings, and opponents smacked him around for a .313 average.

In Burlington in 2002, Chris lowered his ERA to 3.25 allowing 179 hits in 166 innings of work. He also walked 41 and his strikeouts per inning dipped as he recorded just 89. His WHIP dropped to a respectable 1.33 in 27 games, all starts.

"The problem with Tierney is that he doesn't throw that hard (although that might change) and he's not that coordinated. He's sort of his gangly kid who can throw a baseball. He needs to mature physically (a lot), and figure out how to pitch."

As a high school kid from Illinois, Tierney has a longer road to follow before reaching the majors.

"I was shocked and everyone else was shocked. Everyone on the team," Tierney said. "I just figured I wouldn't be traded, especially with six games left in the season. I thought it was really weird."

In his debut at Lake Elsinore, Tierney allowed four hits while walking two and striking out four to get the win. In his one start he earned a 1.50 ERA, but the Padres will have to wait until next year to see what they have.

"Realistically, he's AT LEAST 4-5 years away from going to major league game without first buying a ticket," Choate said. "Honestly, the Padres would have been better served grabbing one of the Royals numerous 21 year old 5'9" righties. The Padres must see something the Royals haven't."

The Padres likely were looking to recoup a lefthander in the minors after losing one in Oliver Perez and knowing they would lose another later in the season in Cory Stewart. When looking at pitchers, you can never have too many as the uncertainty with them is clearly an unknown.

"Tierney might be good someday, but that's probably five years and a lot of instruction away," John Sickels of ESPN concurred.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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