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Padres claim a new unicorn off waivers

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Padres claim righty pitcher Rowan Wick from the Cardinals. He’s a raw converted catcher. Think Christian Bethancourt 2.0

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals-Media Day
Rowan Wick can throw a baseball really hard. That’s about all
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With Jose Torres placed on MLB’s Restricted List, the Padres had an open 40-man slot. Some predicted that the roster spot might get claimed by a veteran first baseman with a freshly-minted seven-figure contract. Nope.

Rowan who? Mr. Wick was drafted as a catcher by the Cardinals in 2012. He was quickly converted to outfield after hardly a year in affiliated ball, where he toiled away in the lower minors for a couple of years. In 2015 they gave him a three-game audition on the mound, and they saw potential. Does this story sound a little familiar? Yeah, the Padres did the same kind of thing with Christian Bethancourt, and they also followed a similar path with Jose Ruiz, but there’s a chance this can work! Kenley Jansen was once an oversized catching prospect with a cannon arm, and his career has turned out pretty nicely. Anyway, Wick has worked exclusively as a pitcher the last two years, where he has shown a mid-90’s fastball with movement that has touched 98 contrasted occasionally by a developing curveball. Teams around the league started to take notice, and I’ll let the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tell you how he did last year:

This past year, at several levels, Wick had a 2-1 record with a 3.19 ERA in 34 games. He struck out 42 batters in 42 1/3 innings and had a 1.20 WHIP. The Cardinals kept him on the 40-man roster to avoid leaving him exposed to other teams in the Rule 5 draft.

So now he’s on the Padres 40-man roster. He’s got talent for sure, but he still walks a ton of guys, plunks a dude now and then, and has more than his share of wild pitches. Once again the organization has another project on their hands. This time of year, AJ Preller has been known to roster a guy just to get a closer look at him. Who knows if Wick will stick around, but he’ll be interesting to watch this spring.