Sewald spent most of his first three seasons at the Univ. of San Diego in the bullpen before emerging as the most consistent starter in the weekend rotation as a senior, going 8-4, 3.09 with 75 strikeouts and 27 walks in 84 innings.
He was a teammate of Kris Bryant.
- June 2012: Paul signed with the Mets for just $1,000 after they chose him in the 10th round, out of the University of San Diego.
After the 2014 season, Sewald had an extra benefit while participating with Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League. Paul had the chance to share an off-campus apartment with his brother Johnny and two other Arizona State baseball players.
“I was like, ‘Hey, I’m coming down, do you mind if I stay?” the Mets prospect said as the AFL season concluded. “Everyone was excited. It’s been really cool. I got to spend a lot of time with him, a lot of time with his roommates."
Paul's brother, Johnny, who is four years younger, was selected in the 34th round in 2012, but chose Arizona State. Both brothers are products of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.
After such a dominating season, what did he feel was the reason for his successful year in Savannah? “I would say the main reason for my successful season was that I really challenged the zone. I threw strikes with all my pitches and let my defense work, using the large ballpark to my advantage,” says Sewald. (2013)
Paul's superstition: He chews a specific type of gum when he pitches, Bubble Yum, Watermelon, Jolly Rancher. His main hobby: golfing.
Favorite player: Pedro Martinez. " While my stuff is not necessarily similar to Pedro’s, I do try to model his strike-throwing and competitiveness, which is almost second to none," says Sewald.
Who had the biggest influence in playing baseball?
"My dad has always been my biggest influence on my baseball career. He was my coach when I was younger, and he is still someone I can go to if I feel there is something I need to work on in my game. Frank Viola has made the biggest impact on my game so far in my professional career. He just has so much experience and insight that you just listen when he has advice. He talks a lot about the approach and mental aspects of the game, and I certainly think it elevated my performance," Paul said. (D Conde - November 18 - 2013)
FRIENDS WITH KRIS BRYANT
Sewald stifled a laugh as Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant walked to the plate during a Spring Training 2016 game and a sold-out crowd serenaded him. Under normal circumstances, a Minor League reliever such as Sewald might quiver at the prospect of facing Bryant, one of MLB's foremost sluggers.
Yet for Sewald, this wasn't intimidating. It was funny. Sewald and Bryant have been friends since Little League. "He was already better than everyone else," Paul said. Later, they became college teammates at the University of San Diego. They remain golf buddies to this day.
So when Bryant stepped to the plate amidst the crowd's adulation, booming the first pitch he saw for a deep flyout to Cashman Field's center-field swell, Sewald couldn't help but laugh.
"I didn't really appreciate that the crowd loved him way more than they loved me," he joked afterward. "Everyone got really excited. I just tried to keep my emotions in check and tried not to laugh, seeing him at the plate. It was fun to get to face him."
In so many ways, this was Bryant's day—local kid comes home to share his successes with the community that raised him. But that could not obscure the fact that for Sewald, too, this was a homecoming. A Las Vegas native just like Bryant, Sewald estimates he had 10 family members and another 20 to 30 acquaintances in attendance.
Sewald also received an ovation from those folks, even if it couldn't match Bryant's in decibels. "It was unbelievable getting to pitch in front of the home crowd, my family, my girlfriend," said Sewald. "Tons of friends came out, and it was amazing to get to pitch so well, and get to have that kind of audience."
Consider it the first of what should be many similar moments this summer for Sewald, who will open his season at Triple-A Las Vegas. Not since high school has Sewald pitched regularly in his hometown, though he still spends his off-seasons there golfing with Bryant, who calls him "an unbelievable person" and "one of the most underrated prospects in all of baseball."
Statistics suggest the Cubs slugger may have a point. Sewald has reason to hope his homecoming in Vegas will be brief. That he pitched three shutout innings with three strikeouts against the Cubs only bolstered Sewald's confidence that his next meeting with Bryant could come at Wrigleyville or Flushing.
"It gives me a ton of confidence that I can get outs at the Major League level," Sewald said. "I've had a little bit of success in the last couple of outings in Major League camp before I went down to Minor League camp, and got my confidence up a little bit. I started to feel like I have everything going heading into the season. Then to face one of the best lineups in baseball and throw like that is obviously just a huge confidence boost." (DiComo - MLB.com - 3/31/16)
Aug 12-15, 2021: Paul was on the paternity list.
Aug 15-16, 2021: Paul was on the restricted list.
As if Paul needed any more advantage in this 2021 breakout season, he gave the Mariners his first glimpse of pitching with Dad Strength in a win over Texas.
Sewald worked around a leadoff single to Adolis García and picked up his fifth save after six days in between his last outing while he was in Las Vegas to be with his wife, Molly, for the birth of their first child, Chloe. In the down time, he played catch with his brother to keep his arm loose, but nothing too taxing.
“I'm too old to not have the heat packs and the whole thing,” Sewald joked. “So, it was a lot of lobbing going on. But it was just enough to be ready.”
Sewald has kept things light all season, but fatherhood has certainly added an even more grounded perspective on how he approaches things. To be sure, when Sewald is on the mound, he’s been fierce, but he recognizes that 2021 has been a blessing of a year for him on and off the mound, and he’s embracing every moment of it. (Kramer - mlb.com - 8/18/2021)
June 2012: Paul signed with the Mets for just $1,000 after they chose him in the 10th round, out of the University of San Diego.
Dec 2, 2020: Paul chose free agency.
- Jan 8, 2021: The Mariners organization signed free agent Sewald to a minor league contract.
- Mar 22, 2022: Sewald signed a one-year, contract with the Mariners.
- Jan 13, 2023: Paul and the Mariners avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $4.1 million.
|Birth City:||Las Vegas, NV|
|Draft:||Mets #10 - 2012 - Out of Univ. of San Diego (CA)|
Sewald has an 89-94 mph FASTBALL, a deceptive 82-85 mph SLIDER that breaks late, and a decent 81-84 mph CHANGEUP that is fringe average.
Sewald is a finesse-pitching control artist spotting his heater on both sides of the plate, and he doesn't walk many. His slider is very effective at getting hitters to swing and miss.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 64% of the time; Change 3.7%; and Slider 32.4% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 59.2% of the time, his Sinker 4.2%; Change 6.3%; and Slider 30.3% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 91 mph, Sinker 90.2, Change 83.9, and Slider 81.9 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 69.7% of the time, his Sinker less than 1%; Change 3.6%; and Slider 25.8% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 91.3 mph, Sinker 88.7, Change 81.4, and Slider 82 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 59.7% of the time, his Change 7%; and Slider 33.3% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 92.1 mph, Change 81.9, and Slider 82.7 mph.
- 2022 Pitch Usage./Avg. Velo: 52% - 92.5 mph; Slider 48% - 82.8 mph.
In 2017, Paul showcased the slider that he knew could be an effective weapon against righthanders.
“Paul, everybody keeps saying has fringe stuff, but he knows how to compete and finds a way to win,” Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said in 2017. “He’s got a sneaky delivery. He crossfires and can locate, so I am very pleased with him and have been since two spring trainings ago when he started an exhibition game in Las Vegas for us. We said, ‘This kid can pitch,’ and felt good about him.”
Sewald credits the improvement of his slider for helping with that confidence.
“The more I throw it, the more success I’ve had, as long as I am locating my fastball,” Paul said. “For me it’s just been about fastball command early in the count and throwing my slider as a put-away pitch.” (Mike Puma -NY Post - June 2017)
The delivery is clean, he can throw strikes, he has the three pitches, and he goes right after hitters, but he'll need to watch his location. Up in the zone, he'll get killed, since he lacks the velocity to throw the ball by hitters.
Paul attacks the zone and throws strikes.
2021 Season: Righty reliever Paul Sewald signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. On May 13, when his contract was selected by the club, the promotions of Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert got all the headlines. Little did we know, Sewald would become one of the year’s best stories.
From Sewald’s season debut on May 16, he went on to lead all MLB relievers in strikeouts by a wide margin, with 104 in 64 2/3 innings. Among relievers with at least 60 innings on the 2021 season, Sewald’s 39.4 K% ranked second in baseball.
Deploying a sweeping slider, elevated fastballs, and a deceptive delivery, Sewald ascended to the top of the pecking order in the Mariners’ bullpen by August. Sewald pitched in 19 of the Mariners’ last 32 games as they pushed for a playoff spot, always in the highest-leverage situations. Sewald’s breakout 2021 season included 10 wins, a 3.06 ERA, 104 strikeouts, 11 saves, and 16 holds. (Tim Dierkes | January 5, 2022)
2022 Season: This year, the tweak Sewald made to stay one lesson ahead of the league was on his slider. In 2022, Sewald threw his slider even more, almost a 50-50 split with his fastball rather than the 60-40 split of 2021. Sewald’s slider is an outlier, with significantly less drop than the average MLB slider, but the thing the Mariners have emphasized with Sewald is worrying less about two-plane movement and focusing on maximizing sweep (horizontal movement) on the slider. In 2022, the slider swept just a little bit less on average, but still tempted batters to whiff about 40% of the time. In Eno Sarris’s roundup of the top ten pitches in baseball purely by Stuff+, which measures only the physical characteristics of pitches, Sewald’s slider comes in at #5.
While the slider doesn’t generate a ton of swings—batters swing at it only about 42% of the time—when they do swing, they either whiff at it or foul it away. In 2022, Sewald suppressed batters to a wOBA of just .204 on the pitch, and xSLG suggests he even got a little unlucky on the pitch—an xSLG of .277 vs. the .304 actual slugging percentage. That’s even better (weaker) contact than he got off the pitch in 2021, even if he’s not generating as many whiffs on it with a similar number of swings.
In 2022, however, Sewald’s fastball was less toothsome for batters, who again offered at the pitch 55% of the time but whiffed at it just under 30% of the time, while fouling it away another 42% of the time—still good numbers, but not as dominant as 2021, when batters offered at the pitch about the same amount but whiffed more like 33% of the time, good for third-highest in baseball on a four-seamer. That’s a small but significant difference. In 2021, Sewald ranked 23rd among qualified relievers (those who threw 100+ fastballs) in whiffs/swing; in 2022, he was down to 50th. His overall chase rate dropped from the 70th percentile in the league to the bottom 13th percentile.
It was never likely Sewald would recapture his mega-strikeout form in 2022; with the league having an entire season’s worth of data on him, the surprise factor was largely gone. But Sewald, ever adaptive, was already focused on a different, more sustainable goal: creating weak contact when batters do swing. (Kate Preusser@KatePreusser Jan 5, 2023)
Apr 10-May 15, 2013: Sewald was on the D.L. with a contusion.
- Apr 20-27, 2022: Sewald was on the Covid-19 IL.