In 2015, the hype finally met reality as right-handed pitcher Colin Rea delievered on the promise that many had projected for him since he was drafted in the 12th round out of Indiana State in 2011.
"Thank you very much," said Rea. "It really was a fun year, especially getting to the big leagues."
The six-foot-four, 205 pound Rea came into his own this year mainly by building on what he did in 2014, using more of the inside part of the plate and developing his split-finger in place of a change-up, to go along with his two-seam fastball and slider.
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He began the year in Double-A San Antonio where he put together a dominant half-season with a 1.08 ERA 75 innings over in 12 starts. After an initial hiccup in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League with Triple-A El Paso, Rea settled in and allowed only one earned run in three of his next five outings.
"It's true in some of the Triple-A parks, the ball does go a little further and players are older, more experienced and have better approaches," Rea said on the differences between Double-A and Triple-A. "But if you execute your pitches you should be able to get guys out. So I always think it's more on me than the other factors."
In early August the Padres promoted Rea to the big leagues, where he showed some flashes of his potential. In his last two starts, he held the Dodgers to two runs and shut out the Rockies for seven innings to finish with a 2-2 record and a 4.36 ERA.
When Rea experienced some tightness in his forearm in mid-September, the Padres shut him down in a precautionary move. Even with the early finish, he threw 133.1 innings, more than ever had in his professional career.
"The arm feels fine and it was largely to be on the safe side on why I didn't pitch the rest of the year," said Rea, who was just getting off of a combine harvester on the family farm in Iowa on hearing that he won the award. "Right now I'm mainly working on getting stronger and adding a little bit of weight. I need to be able to go deeper into the season."
When asked what the major difference between this year and years past was, he had quick and easy answer.
"Confidence; when I began to understand what type of pitcher I am and knowing that I could get guys out, a lot of things came together for me."
"The key is to keep on building on what you are doing right."
You can follow all of the action in the Padres' minor league system @madfriars on Twitter