The San Diego Padres season has not gone well but within all the pain there have been some stories that certainly stand out as a positive thing. One particular note that has been developing in the recent weeks is the emergence of veteran minor league pitcher Seth Simmons.
The right handed pitcher had thrown over 240 games and 355 innings as a reliever since being drafted by Arizona in the 40th round of the 2011 draft. The San Antonio Missions needed a spot starter June 17 against Midland and Simmons was called upon. He pitched extremely well going four innings and only allowing two hits and one run while striking out two. He pitched in relief four days later and threw two scoreless innings, striking out three and was placed in the rotation right after that. Here are his thoughts about being a starting pitcher as he spoke to Michael Leboff of MiLB.com.
“There was no sit-down about becoming a starter, I made a spot start on a doubleheader day because I was the freshest arm and then I went back to the ‘pen for a little bit. Then they put me back into the rotation right after the All-Star break, and it’s just kind of being smooth sailing. I just kept making starts and they’ve just let me be…. It’s been nice to just go out there and do my job. Come to think of it, it’s kind of awesome that we didn’t have a sit-down talk about the whole thing.”
At the age of 28, the career minor league relief pitcher was thrust into the limelight with a rotation spot. The way he has responded has left most in the game scratching their head. Simmons has looked dominate as a starter going 2-1 in his last 10 games with a 1.75 ERA. He has struck out 55 batters in 61 innings, while only allowing 42 hits. Suddenly the right handed pitcher from North Carolina he has turned himself into someone who the Padres might want to take a look at very soon. Simmons has a career minor league record of 25-18 with an ERA of 2.77 and a WHIP of 1.16. He has struck out 527 batters in his 432 innings pitched and those numbers are quite impressive.
Simmons is 5-9 and 170 lbs, so he is not your prototypical pitcher in terms of size. He does not light up the radar gun either, but does command his pitches well and has a very serviceable slider. Andy Green is familiar with Simmons as he coached him in 2014 while both were in the Diamondbacks organization. Simmons has made the difficult move to the bullpen and you cannot argue with the success he has had so far. The switch into a starting pitcher was not easy as he describes here.
“Transitioning into a new role as a starter was tough, I’m actually learning how to pitch a little bit better. As a reliever, if I fell behind, I would throw my best pitch immediately to get out of a jam. As a starter, you can’t show all of your cards from the word ‘go…. I always thought about starting and wanted the opportunity to do it, but I never thought in a million years I’d have as much success as I’ve had this year. But at the end of the day, I’ve been around a little bit and have played at Triple-A and I’ve learned things from guys I’ve seen start. Watching those guys, you kind of pick up little things and go out, compete as best as I can and let the chips fall where they may.”
The Padres need all the arms they can get at the upper minor league level. Dinelson Lamet, Michael Kelly, Andrew Lockett and Phil Maton are all getting close and adding Simmons name to this bunch is exciting for the Padres. The team has much pitching depth and the 2017 season will be a breakout year for many young Padres pitcher. Cal Quantrill and Eric Lauer are both progressing really well and each will be on the fast track to the major leagues.
A.J. Preller has done well in revitalizing the Padres farm system. The team has found many young players and acquired them very inexpensively. Ryan Buchter, Buddy Baumann, Brad Hand and Luis Sardinas are already paying dividends at the major league level. The Padres scouting and developing department has already surpassed anything in terms of production that past regimes have accomplished. It is really an exciting time to be a Padres fan. I know the product on the field currently is horrible, but that will not always be the case and you have to admit the team is playing a better style of baseball. They just need time to find the productive players that Andy Green can cultivate into a winner. Perhaps Seth Simmons can be a key to hat success. The numbers do not lie about this late bloomer. He could have some major league service time in his future relatively soon.