In a perfect world, pitcher Donn Roach would bring to the Padres the groundball prowess he demonstrated in the Cal League and awaiting him in San Diego would be the homegrown middle infielders deluxe, Ozzie Smith and Roberto Alomar, each in the pink of his Hall of Fame, groundball-gobbling career.
Roach generates groundballs to the nth degree, which probably owes more to his sinkerball and split-changeup than the extra "n" in his first name. Before the Padres got him this month in the Ernesto Frieri swap with the Los Angeles Angels of La Habra, Roach was a groundball-hitting fungo man unto himself for the Inland Empire 66ers.
Roach's groundball rate was 78 percent, as absurd as it was unsustainable, but the righty's
66-percent groundball clip in low Single A was further evidence that infielders are busy when Roach pitches.
As the baseball men say, Roach should "move through the system" because he "pounds the strikezone" and can "miss bats" (and not only by avoiding caves). Roach showed himself "not afraid" in major league camp with the Angels. He is efficient, not dynamic. His breaking ball is "fringe-average." He is said to "understand who he is."
If and when he does reach the major leagues, either as a "back-end" guy or a "swing man," it's hoped that the Padres actually have a major league infield behind him and that Roach's fastball, which now averages 90-91 mph, is suitably heavy to trick big leaguers. Should Roach encounter Bryce Harper in pregame warmups, the two can reminisce about their days as JUCO teammates.