Ninth-round Padres selection Josh Spence, a lefthander out of Arizona State, was one of the team’s bigger wild-card selections in the draft.
The native Australian was a finesse pitcher to begin with, and he missed all of last year with elbow trouble. That left his short-term future (not to mention his long-term future) in doubt. Spence played some summer ball to attempt to show he was back in the form that made him a third-rounder last year (he didn’t sign with the Angels) and the highest-drafted Australian in history.
The Padres eventually bit and signed Spence, who made his pro debut tonight in relief for the AZL Padres. The 22-year-old lefty allowed one hit in a scoreless inning of work, striking out three.
3 K in an inning–certainly a good sign from a finesse guy that whatever velocity he has is back. Given his advanced age and polish, I’d expect Spence to be sent up to Eugene or even Fort Wayne if and when the Padres are convinced he can shoulder a normal workload this season.
Spence’s signing means that the Padres have signed half of their top 10 selections: 2nd-rounder Jedd Gyorko, 4th-rounder Chris Bisson, 5th-rounder Rico Noel, Spence, and 10th-rounder Houston Slemp. First-rounder Karsten Whitson, 3rd-rounder Zach Cates, 6th-rounder John Barbato, 7th-rounder A.J. Vanegas, and 8th-rounder Jose Dore remain unsigned.