Friday, February 22, 2008

Could Wade LeBlanc break into the rotation in 2008?

By now, all Padre fans know names like Shawn Estes, Glendon Rusch and Will Ledezma as far as names that could be the #5 starter in the rotation.

For those of you who pay attention to the minor league talent the Padres have, here's another name for you...Wade LeBlanc. LeBlanc has been a guy that I got to watch when I made the 45-50 minute drive from Irvine up to Lake Elsinore to watch the Padres Single-A team, the Lake Elsinore Storm.

I remember the first Storm game I ever saw, LeBlanc was the starter for the Storm that night and he didn't disappoint. I got to talking to a few fans around where I sat, you could tell the ones who were repeat visitors because all I kept hearing was "keep your eye on this kid, he's the real deal." So, with that information, I kept track of him even after he was called up to AA San Antonio, leading the Missions to the Texas League Title in 2007.

Wade received an invitation to Padres spring training, and he's apparently opening eyes there as well. Padres' manager Bud Black is one of those people saying "He's got a big league pitch already," referring to the changeup that LeBlanc has picked up, a pitch the Padres have seen time and time again from closer Trevor Hoffman. Mad Friar's columnist Denis Savage also likes LeBlanc "when LeBlanc comes up, I do not expect him to go back down."

If you're going to keep your eye on one guy, keep the name Wade LeBlanc in the back of your mind. You might be seeing him sooner than you expect.

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