Jonathan Padilla has once again pitched very well and he's becoming one of the better 'sleeper' prospects.

STATEN ISLAND, NY -- As Jonathan Padilla’s third season in Pinstripes begins to wrap up, he is focused more than ever on staying healthy, and getting stronger. Coming off of an arm injury earlier this season, he has been working arduously to return to his pre-injury form and to be even better than he was before.

Padilla’s journey with the Yankees began in 2014 when he was signed by the organization as an International Free Agent that year.  He began his career in the Gulf Coast League.  While there, he pitched well during his 14 appearances, striking out 44 batters in 42 and 1/3 innings and earning a respectable 3.61 ERA.  Additionally over that span, he only walked 10 hitters, helping lead to an excellent 1.13 WHIP. 

The effort he devoted to his development in the GCL proved beneficial for him.  The following season, he pitched in Pulaski and the Dominican Summer League, overall recording a 2.08 ERA over 52 innings.  Possibly even more notable though, he only walked eight batters all year, leading to a 1.00 WHIP that season. 

“[Last season] went well, I was always ready coming into this season in Staten Island, because the competition was hard in the other levels,” Padilla said through the help of a translator.  “I tried to improve my overall game every day, and I tried to focus on my outing each day one at a time, to not let them affect one another.”

Earlier this year in Extended Spring Training, he ran into trouble when he hurt his arm.  However, he did not let that impact the growth he was making as a pitcher. 

“I injured my arm and worked hard to recuperate, and now I’m performing better,” he mentioned.  “I really focused on my arm staying healthy since then, including by lifting weights [and] doing everything possible to progress in my development.”

Over the course of time Padilla has spent in other levels of the Yankees farm system, he has been in many different environments.  In Charleston and the GCL, he had been putting unnecessary stress on himself to perform well.  The effects of those pressures were evident in those levels, but since then he has done a great job working to dispel them.

“Now, I’m with a better team than when I was down in the Gulf Coast and Dominican Summer Leagues.  I have been trying to focus on my mentality and focus on being positive here, as opposed to when I was over there.  I’m working to just keep doing the same things that I’m doing right now,” he explained. 

Approaching the end of the regular season, the Staten Island Yankees will need Padilla at his finest if they look to push for a playoff spot in the New York-Penn League.  Ultimately though, the Yankees coaching staff is affirmative that Padilla is already doing admirably so far this year, and his progress will continue to emanate so long as he hones in on the adjustments he has made since Extended Spring Training earlier this season. 

One proponent of Padilla’s recent success is pitching coach Travis Phelps.  Through a great deal of instruction and guidance over the duration of that period, they worked on several elements of Padilla’s pitching style. 

“One of the biggest things for him was his extension and really pushing off of his backside,” Phelps pointed out.  “Also, really trying to create a little bit of leverage with his body, and working down in the strike zone.” 

Padilla has done a great job incorporating those pieces better into his delivery.  With Staten Island this season, he has a 2.34 ERA over 34 and 2/3 innings.  Additionally, as per usual, his WHIP is outstanding, residing at 1.10, which is almost exactly at his career average of 1.08, which he has accrued in his 133 full innings of work so far in his professional career. 

“This year he has developed a cutter, which has been really good for him,” Phelps revealed about Padilla’s repertoire. “He’s really done a good job of mixing all of his pitches, and changing speeds to keeping hitters off-balance.  His ability to completely keep the other team off-balance has been the biggest thing for him, and that’s where he’s having his success.”

Looking towards the rest of the season, Phelps believes Padilla still has plenty left in the tank but expects him to be very focused on each outing he makes, whether it be by starting a game or coming out of the bullpen. 

“I would really like to see him finish the season strong,” Phelps said.  He’s been very good for us this year, and he’s pitched tremendously as of a couple days ago [his last outing], so I’d really like to see him [duplicate] that outing and finish the season the way he’s pitched to that point.”

The sentiment towards Padilla’s dominance here in Staten Island is also shared by manager Dave Bialas. 

“He’s looked good, he’s been in different roles as a starter and a reliever,” Bialas said.  “The only outing he had that [wasn’t that great] was his outing [against Williamsport], when he didn’t locate well.  But overall, he’s pitched very well in games for us, and he has given us needed innings.”

As strong as Padilla has looked thus far in Staten Island, he is on track to continue advancing in the system if he continues to impress the way he has in the early going.  

“I think he could move up a level right now,” Bialas added.  “He throws strikes and he has a good breaking ball.  It’s just a matter of numbers; he’s proved that he can improve.  He’s going to get better, and I think he’s going to gain some velocity as well.  He’s going to pitch higher, [especially] because of his breaking ball, and he’s very competitive.” 

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