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.