San Diego Padres’ prospect Luis Patino is showing positive characteristics and seems poised for success in the game of baseball. The energy he brings to the team each day is contagious. There is a lot to like about the young pitcher.
Right-handed starting pitcher Luis Patino, armed with a million dollar smile and a dynamic personality, is one of the youngest pitchers in all of the California League.
He brings tons of energy to the ballpark with him. Patino loves the game of baseball. What is strange in that statement is that he comes from a country where baseball is still a second thought to most. In Colombia, soccer is still the favorite of its citizens. All adore the Colombian national past time, and many play it throughout the country. “In Colombia, baseball is not the most famous sport. Soccer is more (prevalent). But in Colombia in the last five or six years, baseball is more (popular). They play it more on the coast where I am from. It is not the same as soccer, but it is good,” Patino said. He admits that baseball is not the most popular sport, but there is a growing following for the game.
Picking up a bat and a ball in Colombia is not natural for most kids, but Patino had an upbringing in the sport which helped steer him. “My father played baseball for just one year. My uncle played for seven or eight years. He played for Colombia, but did not do it professionally,” Patino said. Both men helped shape his growth in the sport. “I never saw them play, but when I was younger, they took me to the field to see If I liked it. Since I went to the field, I found out I love this game, and I play a lot.” At the age of three or four, he was out on the fields and developed a love for the sport.
Luis Patino is naturally athletic. The Padres signed him in 2016 as a converted shortstop while his stock was down, but the Padres saw the potential in the young pitcher. Playing shortstop at a high level and then transitioning to pitcher was easy for Patino. “For me, it was not difficult. In Colombia I played shortstop on Saturday and pitched on Sunday,” Patino explains. He had some experience on the mound but lacked major league quality coaching. His approach on the hill has changed from his time in Colombia. “You have to have a different mentality from playing shortstop to being on the mound. When you work hard, you can do anything,” Patino said. He committed to becoming a pitcher, and the challenge of pitching is something he takes pride in as he comes to work.
Though he pitches now, there is still a natural curiousness for swinging the bat. “I do miss hitting. I need to pay more attention to pitching (though), and the hitting is for having fun. The work on the mound is my work now,” Patino said. There will be time when he will swing the bat in the upper minors and beyond. You have to admire that his only focus is on gaining knowledge on the mound.
The relationship between MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino is extraordinary. A Colombian teenager and a kid from North Carolina are the best of friends. They help push each other and feed off one another. “Mack (Gore) is a great guy. Very professional. He is my brother. He is older than me and gives me a lot of advice. He has played a lot more baseball than me. He is my best friend here, and he is my guy,” Patino told EVT. The Colombian pitcher is very fluent in English and Gore has a lot to do with that. When asked if Patino was teaching Gore Spanish, he laughed and replied. “A little bit. He never wants to learn. I teach him a few words, but he told me that I need to learn English more.”
When speaking about Patino to his teammates, the word “energy” is often used to describe him. He brings a passion each day to the ballpark, and that is recognized by the men he takes the field with. “If you have good energy, then you have a good mentality. When you are focused, you need to have fun out on the field. In Colombia, I learned that you have to enjoy the game. When you go to the field, you need to enjoy it. You are not there because of an obligation. That is your passion. The energy is natural for me,” Patino said. This concept is well rationalized for a young player. He knows that what he is doing in the game of baseball is special, and he is not going to waste his opportunity.
As a 19-year-old converted shortstop, Patino has a lot to learn in the game of baseball. Though he has flashed dominance, he realizes that he has to improve in many areas of the game. “I need to improve a lot. Every day you learn something new. Now I am working a lot on my command. I need to also learn a lot on the mental side. The difference between a big leaguer and a minor leaguer has to do with mentality. For me, that is a challenge, to think like a big leaguer,” Patino said. He admires MacKenzie Gore, who has an excellent grasp of the mental edge of the game, so hearing this from Patino is not a surprise. For a teenager, this is pretty advanced thinking.
The game of baseball is hard. Sometimes the game speeds up on you. There are errors behind you and frustration sets in on the mound for every pitcher. Patino talks about calming himself on the mound and advancing in the mental edge aspect of the sport. “I never get frustrated. It is part of the game. When a teammate makes an error, I tell them ‘let’s go.’ Sometimes I miss a pitch, and they hit a home run. That is part of the game. If you get upset about that, you don’t have a good mentality. When your teammate does something bad, you support them. That’s part of baseball,” Patino said.
Patino can throw four pitches above average with the curveball arguably being the pitch he needs to most improve. He can locate all four pitches and mixes them well when attacking hitters. “My best pitch is the fastball. My slider is my second best. I also throw a curve and changeup. I need to work on the curve. The changeup is better than last year. I am using it more this season. I have confidence in all my pitches,” Patino said. As he gets older, his development of each pitch will surely improve. The more coaching, and from different people, will only assist this teenager in growing into a polished professional pitcher.
There is a lot of love for Luis Patino on social media. He recognizes that and feels blessed to have their support. “The Padres fans are great. They always give me good advice. It is motivation for me to work hard. I know that the people want to watch me. For me, the Padres fans have been very fun. I love them,” Patino said with a smile. He loves the game of baseball, and the passion he exudes is contagious. You can see Luis Patino up the 15 freeway in Lake Elsinore. But hurry, he may not be there long.