Mailbag: Who Is Juan Oramas?

Reader Peter recently posed the following question: “What can you tell me about Padres left-hander Juan Pablo Oramas? He is having a great start at Fort Wayne; do you have any scouting reports?”

Well, Peter, I can tell you he’s intriguing. Here’s what I said about Oramas in the Ducksnorts 2009 Baseball Annual:

Oramas doesn’t have a classic pitcher’s body [he's 5'10", 215 lbs], and — despite what the numbers might seem to suggest — doesn’t throw hard. Right now he is using off-speed stuff to beat unrefined hitters… He has yet to pitch on the North American continent, and it’s possible that his approach won’t translate at higher levels. Still, anyone who can dominate a league like he did in ’08 [1.02 ERA, 11.89 K/9 in the Dominican Summer League] must be doing something right, which tells me he’s worth tracking for now.

Oramas followed his 2008 performance with a strong campaign (2.31 ERA, 8.93 K/9) as one of the youngest pitchers in the much more advanced Mexican League. But those are just numbers. For a more complete look, I decided to enlist the aid of someone much closer to the situation, Padres Executive Vice President Paul DePodesta. Here’s what DePo had to say about Oramas:

He’s a young left-hander from Mexico. Not the biggest guy but has a really good three pitch mix of FB, CB and CH. He’s definitely a flyball pitcher, so the Cal League will be a good test. However, he was outstanding last summer in the Mexican League, and that’s a tough place for flyball pitchers as well.

Oramas has since been promoted to Lake Elsinore, where he made his first start of 2010 after five relief appearances. His final line in that start (3.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO) isn’t one you see often. It’s worth remembering that The Hangar in Lancaster is one of the most favorable hitting environments in professional baseball. Also, striking out half the batters you face is a good thing.

I say keep watching and waiting. He’s young (turns 20 on May 11), so there’s no hurry.

Thanks, Peter, for the question. And thanks to DePo for sharing his insights.

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