Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Signed by the Tigers in 2009, Paulino was an under-the-radar signing that the scouting staff had high hopes for. The Tigers signed him for $100,000 and he made his official professional debut in 2010.
Pitching in the Dominican Summer League as a 17-year old, Paulino compiled a 3.88 ERA in 16 outings, including 15 starts. He allowed only 34 hits in 46 1/3 innings of work, though he did walk 45 batters and throw another 14 wild pitches. His strikeout rate was impressive as he fanned nearly eleven batters per nine innings.
The Tigers brought Paulino Stateside for the 2011 season and let him get work with the organization's top instructors throughout the extended spring season and the Gulf Coast League season. He finished the GCL campaign with a 2.36 ERA in 45 2/3 innings. He against allowed just 34 hits over that span and cut his walks to just 18. He maintained a solid strikeout rate and really improved after some rest and side work on his delivery around mid-summer.
Paulino was roughed up in a brief trial at High-A to end the season, leaving him with a definitive idea of what he needed to do to improve in 2012.
Paulino has a long, very lean frame that includes excellent length in his arms. He has outstanding arm speed and a clean arm action, both part of the reason the Tigers scouts were convinced he would add velocity and blossom into a top flight prospect.
After sitting in the mid-80s when he signed in 2009, Paulino's fastball now sits at 93-94 mph and will touch as high as 98 mph when he reaches back for more. Given his thin frame there are scouts that believe he could still add more velocity down the line.
He has above-average movement on his four-seam fastball, displaying good life that can keep the ball off the barrel of the bat. He has the velocity and deception thanks to his long arms to miss bats with his fastball alone.
Paulino will also throw a curveball and change-up, though both are below-average pitches. He has shown improved feel for spinning his curveball but lacks the consistency required to make it a reliable pitch. His change-up is decidedly below-average and requires significant work.
The Tigers worked extensively with Paulino to repeat his delivery last summer and he made huge strides in the second half of the GCL season. He began throwing more strikes and working around the strike zone more consistently. He still lacks the ability to locate in the strike zone, but that may come with time as he is a solid athlete that has taken well to instruction.
Paulino's potential screams above-average big league starter just given the strides he has made before his 20th birthday. While he is light years from reaching that ceiling, the promise in his right arm is undeniable and must be taken seriously.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP WHIP R
Paulino's workload has yet to make any significant increases and he has yet to have any arm trouble. He will likely see a big innings jump with his full-season debut this year and he will have to be watched for fatigue in the second half of the season.
Paulino looks destined for the West Michigan rotation to start the year and the 19-year old will likely work against Midwest League competition all summer long. He has plenty to work on and there is no need to rush him through the system.
Paulino should move a level at a time for the next two to three years, but you can't rule out the possibility of him making a mid-season jump in 2013 if everything starts to come together. He doesn't project to be on the big league radar until 2015 at the earliest.
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