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De Paula impresses in Padres' debut

Acquired on Tuesday, righty hurls six one-hit innings in Storm win
July 27, 2014

While it was Chase Headley whose move garnered most of the headlines in this week's Padres-Yankees trade, Rafael De Paula made his name known on Saturday night.

De Paula allowed one hit -- a solo homer -- over six innings in his San Diego organizational debut as Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore held off visiting Bakersfield, 3-1.

"He was calm, cool and collected," Storm pitching coach Bronswell Patrick said of the newest addition to his rotation. "He was ready to go. He threw a bullpen the first day he got here and he was ready to go tonight. He showed it. He kept himself poised and went out and threw strikes."

De Paula (1-0) retired the first six batters he faced before surrendering a leadoff home run to Harold Riggins in the third.

"The only mistake was a fastball up, out over the plate, and [Riggins] hit it for a home run," Patrick said. "The thing that I liked the most about him is he came back and got three outs right away. It wasn't like he let anything bother him."

After responding to the blast by retiring the side in order in the third, De Paula worked around a walk in the fourth and another in the fifth. The 23-year-old right-hander set down the side in order in the sixth to close his evening. In total, he struck out three and walked two.

"He just attacked guys," Patrick said. "He didn't shy away from any of their hitters. He went out and attacked the zone. Even though he had a couple walks, those walks that he had, they were pretty close pitches that could have gone either way. He didn't shy away from anybody.

"It's very impressive. It speaks highly, as far as him being focused, coming out and looking to impress the organization. It speaks highly of him being able to do that. I want him to be comfortable."

With four days and approximately 2,500 miles separating De Paula from the trade and his former Florida State League club in Tampa, the native of the Dominican Republic matched his longest outing of the season.

"As a pitching coach, I let them get their feet wet first," Patrick said of acquisitions like De Paula. "There's not a lot of information that I can give to him right now. I feed off him first. I want him to get comfortable first. Being in a new organization, being with new players, a different clubhouse, facing different hitters, for me, I let the guys get their feet wet. As it goes three, maybe four starts later, then we'll start talking a little bit more as far as, 'Hey, this is what I think you need to work on.'"

The Storm helped their new teammate with two runs in the bottom of the first and tacked on another on Benji Gonzalez's third-inning RBI single after Riggins' homer.

Behind De Paula, Matthew Shepherd and Brandon Alger finished off the Blaze. Alger struck out two over two perfect innings to earn his 10th save.

Bakersfield starter and ninth-ranked Reds prospect Ismael Guillon (0-4) was charged with three runs -- two earned -- on five hits and three walks while striking out three over six innings.

Tyler Maun is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.