July 24, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Coming into the 2012 season freshman Ryan Padilla was unsure how much he would play. He had struggled during fall ball and was having difficulties adjusting to collegiate pitching.
It didn’t take him long to adjust, however, and when he did he took off.
The Albuquerque-native did not start in either of the Lobos’ first two games of the season, but he played a key role nonetheless.
He came on as a pinch hitter against Nevada in the second game and was somewhat fittingly hit by a pitch. He led the Lobos by getting plunked 13 times this season.
Padilla’s second at bat was where he made his mark, though.
With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning and runners on the corners with one out, he went the other way and lofted a sacrifice fly that allowed the eventual winning run to score.
His successful at bat led to him getting more opportunities as he started seven games over the next three weeks, which included a pair of three-hit performances. He entered the starting lineup for good on March 13 against New Mexico State and he never looked back.
He began a season-best 15-game hitting streak that night against the Aggies, which included a stretch of seven straight games with at least two hits.
He hit .415 (27-for-65) over those 15 games with 19 runs, 11 RBIs, six doubles, and his first career home run against Fresno State on April 1. Following the streak, he failed to record at least one hit in only eight more games the rest of the season.
He finished the season third on the Lobos in batting (.353), doubles (19), home runs (five), RBIs (49), slugging (.525), and on base percentage (.430).
His success earned him second team All-Mountain West honors as well as Freshman All-American honors by Collegiate Baseball, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, PerfectGame.org, and Baseball America.
Padilla is currently playing in the Northwoods League, a summer league comprised of top collegiate players from across the country. The players use wood bats and regulation minor league baseballs to replicate playing in a professional setting, and he has enjoyed solid success so far. In 36 games for the Alexandria Beetles he is hitting .269 with 23 runs, 27 RBIs, nine doubles, and six home runs.
The 2012 season was just the beginning for the La Cueva product, though. He has a chance to be the next great player from the state of New Mexico to play for head coach Ray Birmingham and will play a big part in any success the Lobos enjoy in 2013.