Joining the San Francisco Giants and twenty-one other non-roster invitees in the desert for spring training, Curtis Partch will display his talents, which in the past included both starting and relieving. He possesses a fastball that tops out at 99 mph, and struck out batters over eight minor league seasons at the rate of 10.3 per 9 innings.
At six-five, 240 pounds, right-handed pitcher Partch is another in the list of determined prospects, trying to hook up with San Francisco or at least be given a close look at the big league level. After being waived by Cincinnati last December 3rd, Partch was signed by the Giants two weeks later. Here is a synopsis of his professional career so far:
2005: Drafted in 49th round of the MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants, but not signed.
2007: Drafted in 26th round by Cincinnati Reds out of Merced College and signed. Partch joined the Gulf Coast Reds, in the rookie Gulf Coast League where he appeared in five games (2 SV/1.29 ERA/1.286 WHIP) before being sent to the Advanced Rookie level, Billings Mustangs, in the Pioneer League (12 G, 1 GS, 1 SV 3.29).
2008: He spent all season with the A Dayton Dragons in the Midwest League (33 G/17 S/5.00 ERA/1.49 WHIP).
2009: Partch spent time with three teams, beginning with the Dragons for nineteen starts (8-7/4.67 ERA/1.404 WHIP) and then moving to the Sarasota Reds in the A+ Florida League (7 GS/3-2/4.35 ERA/1.424 WHIP). He finished out the season with one victorious start with the AA Carolina Mudcats in the Southern League (5 IP/0 ER/1.4 WHIP).
2010: He began with the Lynchburg Hillcats in the A+ Carolina League (7-11/28 G/24 GS/4.98 ERA/1.591 WHIP), and then as he did in 2009, he completed the season with one start with the Mudcats. This finale did not go as well, as he got hammered for seven earned runs on seven hits in three innings to take the loss.
2011: Partch spent the bulk of the season with the Bakersfield Blaze of the A+ California League and again finished out the season with the Mudcats, going 2-2 in seven starts with a 5.25 ERA and a 1.553 WHIP.
2012: Partch shifted to the bullpen, beginning with twelve games with the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League (1 SV/3.55 ERA/1.105 WHIP), on to seven games with the Bakersfield Blaze (2 SV/1.50 ERA/0.833 WHIP) and then to the bulk of his season with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (7-4/45 G/6 SV/4.73 ERA/1.536 WHIP).
2013: He began with the Blue Wahoos (7G/4 SV/2.16 ERA/0.960 WHIP) and then spent most of the year with AAA Louisville Bats of the International League, where he got into twenty-four games, all in relief, going 1-2 with a 4.13 ERA, a 1.376 WHIP and two saves.
As major league debuts go, it went-455 feet deep into the upper deck in Cincinnati, for an opposing grand slam.
Also, during this season, he made his MLB debut and appeared in fourteen games, posting a forgettable 6.17 ERA and a 1.457 WHIP, while surrendering eight home runs in 23.1 innings.
2014: He rode the ping-pong express between Louisville and the big club, appearing in forty-one games with the Bats while recording six saves with a 4.75 ERA and a WHIP of 1.500. With the Reds, he appeared in six games, going 1-0 with no runs allowed but seven walks to go with his six strikeouts, resulting in a 1.29 WHIP.
Eight seasons: 45-52/4.82 ERA/271 G/104 GS/25 SV/769 IP/848 H/412 ER/65 HR/298 BB/619 SO/59 HBP/65 WP/1.490 WHIP/0.6 HR/9/4.8 BB/9/10.3 SO/9.
Mar 31, 2012; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; A fan (center) is applauded after catching a foul ball with his left hand while holding a camera in his right during the second inning of a game between the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
In assessing his brief major league career, he may be best remembered for his debut in June of 2013, at which time he gave up a tenth-inning grand slam to Matt Holliday, reportedly 455 feet deep into the second deck in front of the hometown fans. The Cardinals went on to defeat the Reds, 11-4.
In trying to determine why the Reds released him, I came across a post by SB Nation’s Wick Terrell, who explained first that the Cincinnati Reds were desperate to trim dollars from their budget. As he put it,
“If the Reds did not already have an estimated $115 million due to their existing roster for 2015, there’s little chance that either [Logan Ondrusek] of these relievers would have been let go given the struggles seen by the [Reds] bullpen in the previous season, but when money’s tight, saving millions when you can becomes paramount.”
At the time of his release, Partch would have been making the league minimum, but as the author put it, when a pitcher “delivers tantalizing, radar-scorching fastballs, but delivers them flat enough that they’re prone to getting hit a million miles,” that is going to lead to the decision to move in a different direction.
The direction for Curtis Partch was San Francisco, via the desert. The Giants have a respected scouting combine, and for Partch to have received the engraved invitation that he did, meant that the Giants brain-trust saw something that piqued its interest.
Well, that’s what they get paid the big bucks to do. Here’s hoping it pays off in Curtis Partch’s direction.