When the Tampa Bay Rays traded established ace Blake Snell to the Padres this past December, Rays General Manager Erik Neander said the deal would not have been made without receiving 21-year-old righthander Luis Patino in return. Neander told Baseball America:
"“This is something that we wouldn’t have thought about it if the entirety of the return were years away,’’ Rays general manager Erik Neander said. “To have the primary piece for us—and Luis Patiño is the primary piece—be as close as he is, and to be able to time up where he should be going through a really nice progression over the course of 2021, that was really important to us.”"
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Luis Patino’s 2021, So far
This year, Patino has gone 3-1 at Triple-A Durham, with a 3.07 ERA, prompting a return to the Rays on July 22. Rays manager Kevin Cash at the time said the team was giving Patino a chance to establish himself as a major-league starter.
In his first start on the day he was recalled, Patino did not establish himself as such by allowing four runs and five hits in 5.1 innings. One week later, this past Thursday, Patino made another start, with results that produced smiles throughout Tropicana Field.
Patino went six innings against the visiting New York Yankees, allowing only three hits and striking out eight. The Rays, meanwhile, had one of their most lopsided victories ever as they trounced the Yankees, 14-0.
Manager Kevin Cash liked what he saw, telling the Tampa Bay Times:
"“If you can bottle that up for the next two or three months, we’re going to feel really good. We know the stuff is there. We know the way he can navigate through a lineup is there. When it all comes together, it’s special to watch.”"
One good start does not make Luis Patino a reliable starter, but it shows the potential is there and can be realized. “Potential” has always been attached to Patino, who was ranked as the fifth-highest pitching prospect entering this season by MLB Pipeline.
Patino’s meeting of his potential provides some reassurance after no moves were made to bolster the starting rotation before the trading deadline.