Unheralded Anthony Bass Promoted to Majors


If you look at tonight’s probable starting pitchers, you may be wondering who the “Anthony Bass” starting for the San Diego Padres is. While the Padres boast a good amount of starting pitching depth in the upper minors, Bass is not a name that pops up often in discussions of their pitching prospects.

But what should we expect from the recently-promoted Bass, both now and in the future?

There are a number of reasons why Bass wasn’t really on anyone’s radar, mine included, as an imminent major league call-up. Primary among these was that the righthander’s Triple-A experience consisted entirely of one 2010 spot start and one 2011 spot start. It’s not that often that prospects basically skip Triple-A, and it’s even rarer for a non-top prospect to do that. But the Padres have now promoted both outfielder Blake Tekotte and Bass straight from Double-A San Antonio in the past couple of weeks, so they’re clearly not above skipping a player past Triple-A Tucson if they feel he’s the best guy to help the MLB team.

The other reason Bass never got much hype is because he’s not a flashy pitcher, being a fairly standard sinker-and-offspeed-assortment guy. He’s the sort of polished pitcher who one would expect to breeze through the low minors before hitting a wall in Double-A, but in fact, the opposite has happened. After he struck out just 89 batters in 123 2/3 innings in 2009, Bass upped that to 112 in 138 last year and 63 in 68 2/3 this year.

He’s a groundball pitcher, so between his own groundball-inducing tendencies and Petco Park, home runs should not be an issue for Bass. That said, he’s the sort of pitcher who doesn’t have an obvious out pitch who may find major league hitters far tougher to strike out than minor league ones, and his lack of Triple-A experience makes it even more difficult to set those fears aside, at least in the short term.

Bass is having a good enough year to lend some hope that he can be an adequate fifth starter in the near term, especially with Petco Park behind him. His long-term prognosis is more in question, since he’s the sort of prospect who may adjust well and become a mid-rotation starter, or he may never really figure big league offenses out. Anything in between is also possible, of course–the smart money’s on Bass becoming a back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever down the line.

It’ll be interesting to see how he adapts to the promotion.