The deadline is about to pass, and while Dylan Cease is still a Chicagoan for the time being, more last-minute moves are trickling through the pipeline: The White Sox have reportedly purchased former top prospect Luis Patiño from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Patiño, a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher signed out of Colombia, was a consensus Top 20 prospect before the 2020 and 2021 seasons, featuring a wickedly-rising fastball that touched 100 mph and a mid-80s, two-plane slider. He was the headliner in the trade that sent Blake Snell to the Padres, and made 15 starts for the Rays in 2021, posting a 4.31 ERA in 77 innings pitched. However, he missed significant time in 2022 due to an oblique strain and has been in the minors for most of 2023, where he’s run a 6.75 ERA and an ugly 13.4% walk rate that precipitated a move to the bullpen, from which he’s made 21 appearances to go along with his six starts.
He’s made two appearances at the big-league level this year, allowing four runs in four innings and averaging 94.7 mph on his fastball.
Patiño is not your typical “cash considerations” acquisition, even in his post-hype state. This is a product of the fact that Tampa Bay is too good at player development to keep him on the 40-man roster, and they’d rather exchange him for some cash now rather than designate him for assignment, where he’d almost certainly be claimed on waivers. It’s essentially the same process that led to Gregory Santos being available over the winter, and they can only hope that the results are in the same ballpark here.
It seems likely that Pantiño will join the White Sox active roster at some point this season, if not immediately, where they may be inclined to give him one more chance to start — and see if he can realize his upside — before concretizing his future as a reliever. It’s a high-upside move for virtually no risk. The chances that Patiño is anything more than a reliever — albeit a potential high-leverage one — are relatively small, but if the Sox allow him to work through his struggles and finish his development in the majors, they might have a hidden gem on their hands.