07/13/08 4:15 PM ET
Double-A righty sharp in Futures Game
Deadline deals for Padres could hasten Inman's climb
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
Inman, who was the Padres' lone representative in Sunday's XM All-Star Futures Game played at Yankee Stadium, could well find himself on a fast track to the Major Leagues, especially if the team deals pitchers Greg Maddux and/or Randy Wolf before the Trade Deadline.
Now that the Padres have committed to being sellers this year -- general manager Kevin Towers said this week that the team is looking to add prospects through trades -- Inman and a handful of other pitching prospects could get premature bump.
Not that the 21-year-old Inman has been thinking about that. Well, at least not too much.
"I'd be lying if I said I don't think about it," Inman said Sunday. "You try not to let it bother you ... but who knows?"
Inman worked a proficient fifth inning Sunday, needing just 11 pitches to get three outs. He got Fernando Martinez (Mets) on a fly ball to right, struck out Wellington Castillo of the Cubs with a fastball on the outside corner and snared a soft line drive up the middle off the bat of Gorkys Hernandez (Braves) to end the inning.
The World Team defeated the U.S. Team, 3-0.
Inman and fellow San Antonio pitcher, left-hander Steve Garrison, were two players that San Diego acquired last July in the trade that sent reliever Scott Linebrink to Milwaukee.
Inman was considered the gem of the deal, though left-hander Joe Thatcher, also in the deal, made it to the Major Leagues first last season. Inman is 8-4 with a 3.02 ERA for San Antonio this season with 109 strikeouts in 98 1/3 innings.
Inman has struggled with his control at times, walking 48 batters. But Inman has kept his hits down (just 77 in those 98 1/3 innings) as opponents are hitting just .213 against him.
Inman cited his improved changeup and his confidence in using it as contributing factors to his success in San Antonio. But that doesn't mean he's not without some warts.
Other than reaching the Major Leagues, Inman's biggest goal and most immediate one is cutting down on his walks.
"For me, it's been a weird season," Inman said of the walks. "I'll go one or two outings with one or no walks and then I'll sporadically start walking guys."
Garrison, who is a roommate of Inman's in San Antonio, has propelled himself to the top of the prospect ladder in the Padres system this season, going 6-3 with a 3.07 ERA and a 76-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Towers saw Garrison and several other members of a talented San Antonio pitching rotation recently and came away impressed with Garrison.
"Garrison is ahead of the pack," Towers said.
"I'm pretty pleased with the overall depth through our system," Towers said. "Guys like Garrison, [Stephen] Faris, [Matt] Buschmann and Inman, if they don't make it this year should compete for spots in the rotation next year."
If Maddux and/or Wolf -- both will be free agents after the season -- get moved before the Trade Deadline, the Padres will need reinforcements. Garrison might be a good fit as might Inman and Triple-A pitchers Wade LeBlanc and Josh Geer, though both have taken their lumps at Triple-A Portland.
For Sunday, at least, Inman was left to soak in his experience at Yankee Stadium and his scoreless inning.
"It was an amazing experience, I was telling some of the guys that I had never been on a big league field," Inman said.
The next time Inman does, it might be for much longer than one sun-splashed afternoon.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.