With Clayton Richard on the disabled list, the Padres brass acknowledged that they only had 4 starting pitchers on the roster. Anthony Bass would retain his role as long man in the bullpen and recently reactivated Tyson Ross would need to stay in the bullpen in order to avoid aggravating his previously injured non-throwing shoulder during an at bat. There was some speculation that the team would use the upcoming off days to avoid needing a 5th starter for a while, but that all changed with an announcement that followed the sweep of the Miami Marlins.
23 year old AA RHP Burch Smith is getting the call. He'll pitch Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the rotation will get an extra day's rest. Smith was a 14th round pick by the Padres in the 2011 draft. He made 26 starts in Lake Elsinore last year and 6 in San Antonio this year. He posted a 3.85 ERA for the Storm and a 1.15 ERA for the Missions. Apparently, that was enough for the organization to decide that he could get big leaguers out well enough to skip ahead to the major leagues. Smith throws in the high 90s and has piled up strikeouts in the minors at a rate of 9.9 per 9 innings pitched.
John Sickels of SBNation's Minorleagueball.com had this to say about Smith before the season when he gave him a C+ and ranked him as the 17th best Padres Prospect:
17) Burch Smith, RHP, Grade C+: Inning-eating fly ball pitcher from University of Oklahoma pounded strike zone in High-A, 3.85 ERA with 137/27 K/BB in 129 innings. Often overlooked in a prospect-rich system, but in other organizations he would be getting a lot of play as a possible number four starter. Breakthrough candidate in Double-A? This might look too low a year from now, but in this system he has a lot of competition for slots on this list.
That last part looks a little prophetic after these latest events. Expect another writeup by Sickels in the coming days.
No word yet on a corresponding roster by the Padres. They will need to make room both on the 40 man roster and the 25 man. I have not heard any speculation as to what that move might be, but let me start by throwing out Brad Brach's name for demotion to AAA. However, the more likely scenario is that Brad Boxberger gets sent back down.