Padres Scouting Report: David Pauley

High school pitchers are viewed as high ceiling projects. Some teams shy away from them, while others are willing to take a flyer in hopes of developing a superstar. The San Diego Padres have consistently drafted college players in an effort to aid an ailing franchise at the Major League level. That may change this year, but rewind back to 2001, when David Pauley was the taken out of high school – in the eighth round.

David Pauley ended up being selected 240th overall in 2001 and unlike many who decide to go back into the draft, Pauley headed to the Pioneer League as an 18 year old. Pauley struggled making the transition, going 4-9 with a 6.00 ERA. A 1.62 WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched) had to weigh heavily on his mind.

The Padres saw fit to give him some confidence by promoting him to Eugene in '02. And the young right-hander responded.

Pauley ended the year with a 6-1 record in 15 games started. His WHIP – a commanding 1.24 and his ERA reflected his improvement by dropping all the way down to 2.81.

This from a high school kid who turned 19 during the season was a revelation of sorts. Responding mentally to the challenge has vaulted him up prospect boards.

"For the high school kids – well the Padres philosophy is not to draft many of them so it is not like we had a lot of them," Fort Wayne Wizards broadcaster Terry Byrom began. "David Pauley takes this pretty seriously. Not a whole lot of kids in his position 19 to 20 years old probably would work as hard as he does or have as good a head on his shoulders as he does."

"He throws pretty well," said a Padres scout. "He gets into the low 90's. 90 to 92 to 93 with his fastball and he has a really good curveball. And he has a good changeup. He is a guy who it would not surprise me at all if he is in San Diego."

That reflects the sentiments of the entire organization.

While his hard work paid off in 2002, 2003 when he was again promoted, this time to Fort Wayne, would again be scrutinized.

Pauley did not make many doubters after going 7-7 with a 3.29 ERA on a weak hitting Wizards club. With an increased workload, Pauley was able to again keep his WHIP down to a 1.25 mark.

His real progress came in his strikeout per inning ratio. Entering 2003, Pauley was striking out batters a clip of seven per nine innings of work. This past season he upped that by two full strikeouts, averaging one per inning of work.

"He is a really good street smart type kid," Byrom said. "Just really knew how to take care of himself and how to make sure he was ready everyday, even though he would pitch every fifth day, but he was always ready everyday. Just a good kid who has a great attitude.

"He doesn't walk anyone either. I think we led the league in fewest walks. We don't have a whole lot of guys, especially from a starter point of view that would walk a lot of guys."

Pauley walked 38 batters last year and has walked 80 in 266 innings of Minor League work.

"He was around the plate," the Padres scout confirmed. "And he is going to get bigger and stronger. He is still kind of thinner. That just comes with age."

Pauley is still only 20 years old and he has already seen three levels of the Padres Minor League system. At this rate he will be up in the Major in 2007 and will still only be 23. Not bad for a kid who just got out of high school.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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