By Joe Naiman
Ramona’s Nick Vincent has posted quality statistics during his professional baseball career, and his continued ability to pitch well has given Vincent another call-up to the San Diego Padres.
“It’s always good to be back up here,” Vincent said.
“He deserved a shot in the major leagues,” said Padres Manager Bud Black.
Vincent’s 2013 season with San Diego’s Class AAA Tucson farm club included a 4-3 record in 20 appearances with a 4.15 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 21-2/3 innings. Opposing batters were batting .264 against Vincent prior to his call-up. The statistics might not match some of Vincent’s past minor league figures or even those from his 27 appearances with the Padres during 2012, but the Tucson Padres’ team ERA was 4.58 while the team opposing batting average was .286.
“You look at how they’re throwing the ball in AAA and you get reports,” Black said. “In comparison to some of the other guys Nick has pitched well.”
On May 30 the Padres sent pitcher Anthony Bass to Tucson while calling up Vincent.
“I was just throwing well the last couple of weeks, and baseball’s big on numbers,” Vincent said.
Vincent finished the Padres’ May 30 game against the Seattle Mariners, retiring all three batters he faced during San Diego’s 7-1 loss. He survived four two-strike fouls from Brendan Ryan before striking out Ryan on a full count to end the 10-pitch at-bat. Alex Liddi then grounded out to shortstop on a 1-0 count before Endy Chavez’s first-pitch flyout to center ended the inning.
Vincent, who was optioned to Tucson on March 24, was hurt during spring training. Black believes that Vincent might have made San Diego’s Opening Day roster had he been healthy.
“He was in the mix,” Black said.
Vincent made one spring training appearance and retired all three batters he faced.
Black plans to use Vincent as a situational reliever.
“I think Nick kind of knows when he’s going to pitch a lot of times,” Black said. “He won’t be asked to give us a lot of length. (Dale) Thayer can do that. (Tim) Stauffer can do that.”
Petco Park is about 40 miles from Ramona, although Vincent will likely be seeing his family at the ballpark rather than in Ramona.
“I don’t know how much I’ll be going home,” he said. “I always see them over here.”
Vincent graduated from Ramona High School in 2004 and then played collegiate baseball at Palomar College and Long Beach State. The Padres selected him in the 18th round of the 2008 draft, and he spent most of the rest of that year with the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League. He made eight starts and eight relief appearances for Eugene in 2008, and also had a five-inning start at Class AAA Portland that year.
Vincent spent 2009 and 2010 with the Lake Elsinore Storm, where he was converted to a full-time relief pitcher. In 2009 his 59 appearances produced a 4-2 record with a 3.08 ERA and two saves. Vincent made one start and 47 relief appearances for the 2010 Storm; he had a 4-0 record and an ERA of 1.87.
Vincent was 8-2 with a 2.27 ERA for San Antonio in 2011 and was selected to play in the Texas League’s All-Star Game. He began 2012 on the disabled list but was activated on May 10 and initially pitched for Tucson. He was called up to the Padres on May 18 but optioned back to Tucson on May 20 without having appeared in a game. After allowing 11 runs in 8-2/3 innings during his first nine outings with Tucson, he was transferred to San Antonio. In his nine outings with the Missions he was 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA, allowing only two runs, four hits, and no walks in 9-2/3 innings while striking out 15.
That earned him another call-up to the Padres. He made his major league debut June 26 with two scoreless innings at Houston and earned his first major league win June 28 at Houston. He was returned to Tucson July 5 but received a third call-up to San Diego July 16. He pitched three scoreless innings before being returned to Tucson July 22 when Eric Stults was activated from the disabled list.
Vincent’s fourth 2012 stint with the Padres began Aug. 18 and lasted for the rest of the season. Those 20 appearances produced a 1-0 record and only one run in 18-1/3 innings for an ERA of 0.49. He allowed 11 hits while holding opponents to a .169 batting average and only walked three batters while striking out 20. Vincent’s full 2012 statistics with the Padres included a 2-0 record, a 1.71 ERA in 26- 1/3 innings, 19 hits, seven walks, and 28 strikeouts. He did not allow a run in 23 of those appearances, including 22 of his final 23 games. His ERA during his 13 games at Petco Park was 0.68; he allowed one run in 13-1/3 innings.
“Statistically did a nice job,” Black said. “We’ll see if we can get the same results.”