If you search through Minor League rosters you may find more than one person
who matches the description of Aaron Coonrod. Great stuff – needs to
find the strike zone.
"There is a ton of guys out there like that," Tye Waller, the Padres' Director of Player Development, explained. "We believe he is going to get that eventually. Aaron just has to have confidence in himself. Learn his mechanics and his release point and just trust himself."
The fuss is about his 109 walks in 193 career minor league innings pitched. Last year, Coonrod walked 30 in 35.2 innings of work with Fort Wayne and was at his worst in May when he issued a free pass to 22 batters in just 12.2 innings of work. He settled down in June, walking just four over his last 15.2 innings of relief.
With a new confidence, he was elevated to Lake Elsinore. He walked 19 batters in 33.1 innings of work, including one game where he issued five base on balls. He walked multiple batters in 16 games spanning two leagues and never worked more than 2.2 innings in any outing. That is where the concern comes from.
Coonrod is a power pitcher who will generate a lot of strikeouts if he can consistently get the ball over the plate. The Padres remain confident in his ability and feel he made strides towards the end of the year.
"He is a guy who ended up pitching pretty well down the stretch down in Lake Elsinore," Waller added. "He started off well in Fort Wayne and ended up sliding into the dugout and banged himself up and he lost it for a little bit and got it back. We wanted to get him to Lake Elsinore and there is definitely enough arm. He will get plenty of opportunities to find it and see if we can remake a system with his approach."
His WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) was 1.88 with the Wizards but dropped down to 1.38 while with the Storm.
The light at the end of the tunnel shows Coonrod to be nearly unhittable when he is on. The opposition hit just .221 off him in the California League and he kept the leadoff hitter of an inning to a .174 average. He also struck out 70 in 69 innings of work across two leagues.
Armed with a fastball that touches 97, there will be plenty of time given to the prospect. Refining his secondary pitches and, of course, gaining control of each of them will ultimately be the key to his success. As former Padre Oliver Perez has shown, once it comes together, Coonrod can take his game to the next level and has the potential to be a future closer for the big club.
Seventeen days. A few hours here, a few minutes there, Spring Training is getting here faster than…