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2012 Pitching Review – The Bullpen

Frequent readers of the blog will be very excited with this post.  It is the last of my 2012 Vancouver Canadian player reviews.  Now, the excitement may stem from the series itself, as readers look forward to each position in turn.  Or it may just be a product of wanting to get the whole ordeal over with.  A position I can somewhat empathize with as this spring training exercise has dragged on a bit.

And to be perfectly honest, I have been dreading this final piece of the puzzle.  For me, if you are a reliever in short season rookie ball, then you are nothing more than organizational filler going forward.  I may be being narrow minded.  Plenty of great relievers aren’t failed starters.  Relievers may also go in the opposite direction, using the bullpen to build arm strength before switching to the rotation as they physically mature.  The C’s did have one such arm in their ‘pen last year, and, of the names below, he’ll be the one to keep an eye on going forward.

I’ve broken down the relievers by most appearances, with less than 50% of those being starts, while adding in a few bonus entries.  My picks of names that may have a future in the system.

With the head of the organization due to kick off their much anticipated 2013 tomorrow and the A ball teams above Vancouver starting Thursday, things are starting to happen

To be honest, I don’t know why Vancouver would release Jonathan and not Toronto.  Possibly, if a player is to be released, it is technically from his last served team.  If you look at the list below (as always, courtesy of baseballreference.com), Lucas was near the top in both appearances and innings pitched:

Name Age G ▾ IP H WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
Andrew Sikula 23 29 36.2 25 0.955 6.1 0.7 2.5 7.6 3.1
Jonathan Lucas 24 27 40.1 46 1.636 10.3 0 4.5 6 1.35
Tucker Donahue 21 22 25.2 29 1.675 10.2 0.7 4.9 7.4 1.5
Eric Brown 23 19 45.2 62 1.73 12.2 1.8 3.4 8.5 2.53
Nicholas Purdy 22 19 38.2 40 1.603 9.3 0.7 5.1 7.7 1.5
Zack Breault 23 18 34.1 28 1.34 7.3 0.3 4.7 5.5 1.17
Ian Kadish 23 15 22.2 10 0.926 4 0.4 4.4 14.3 3.27
Matt Johnson 24 14 15.2 17 1.404 9.8 0 2.9 9.8 3.4
Marcus Stroman 21 7 11.1 8 0.971 6.4 0 2.4 11.9 5

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Now, I’ve said this numerous times on this blog.  I refuse to make ‘released’ predictions.  I’m going to give everyone a chance to make a team.  With our first cut of the spring though, I’m going to sidestep my self-imposed restraint by adding a few names to the Jonathan Lucas category:

Eric Brown – I hate to do this to 2012’s opening day starter, and to such a great story.  An Ontario kid who played for U.B.C.,

Eric Brown in C's red (photo courtesy of vancouversun.com)

Eric Brown in C’s red (photo courtesy of vancouversun.com)

Brown was a 50th round pick in 2011, the last of his kind as ’11 was the final year the draft went 50 rounds.  If you look at his numbers last season though, things just don’t look good.  Everything bar his K/BB ratio is under the Lucas line.  He did have a .358 BABIP making his FIP over two runs lower than his ERA.  That’s a positive.  The 1.73 WHIP and 12.2 hits per nine means he just struggles to get people out.  At twenty-three, he’ll find a niche in Independent ball.

Tucker Donahue – I needed another body to even things out here a bit (very scientific, I know) so, based on the numbers, Tucker gets the nod.  And let’s be honest, he did struggle.  With similar numbers in WHIP and H/9 to Eric it shouldn’t be such a tough call, but last year was Tucker’s first in pro ball.  You would expect the Jays may give him another chance.  I’m going to go on a limb and say he has a poor extended spring training and they Lucas him.

The Canadians – this is a bit of a dual moniker as both the below names are actually Canadian and, if they are not Lucas’d, they have done nothing to deserve a promotion, so if still in the organization, will be back in Vancouver:

Nicholas Purdy – Purdy has three things going for him (aside from being Canadian). He’s big at 6’5″ so creates a nice downward plane to his fastball.  As per this article, he came to pitching quite late in life, so maybe deserves more time.  He had one excellent spell in 2011 with the GCL Jays where he struck out 13.7/9.  The bad: he struggles to get people out.  In his first three seasons his WHIP is 1.418.  Even the year he struck out so many he made up for it by walking 5.43/9.  If he gets through extended, this year will be his last to prove he belongs.

Zack Breault  – Another big bodied Ontarian, 2012 was Zack’s repeat year with the C’s.  And, if looking at the counting stats, his numbers did improve.  However, if digging a bit deeper, his BABIP dropped to a lucky .260 and his BB/9 rate ticked up a bit, giving him a 1.17 K/BB ratio.  Not good enough.  At twenty-four, he’ll do well to get out of extended.

Lansing bound:

Matt manning his new position

Matt manning his new position

Matt Johnson – The feel good story of 2012.  Johnson was an older middle infielder who came in to do some mop up duty in a blowout.  His fastball touched the 90s and things just went from there.  With an excellent 9.77 K/9 rate and 2.18 FIP Johnson impressed.  The rumour had him heading to the instructional league after the C’s wrapped up their season.  I was unable to confirm if he did pitch and, if so, how well, but at his age, it is safe to assume, provided all went well, he will begin the season in Lansing.

Andrew Sikula – I wrote about Andy over at Jays Journal.  To rehash, he’s not overly overpowering, decent control, but got a bit lucky last year with this BABIP against.  He struck out over two less hitters per nine in the Northwest than the Appalachian league.  If that trend continues into the Midwest, he could find himself in a bit of trouble.

Enjoying the Florida sun in Dunedin:

Ian Kadish –  Another older guy, Kadish was dominant in fifteen appearances with the C’s last year with a 14.29 K/9 ratio and 2.19 FIP.  He was promoted to Lansing where he threw pretty well.  His BABIP rose 70 points and K rate naturally dropped, but he definitely threw well enough to start out with Dunedin and see how he fares.

Marcus Stroman – And finally, we get to Marcus, probably the only hurler on this list that has any chance of seeing time in a Blue Jays uniform.  Most should know his back-story.  After being drafted in the first round this past year, Stroman was labelled the most mlb ready player in the draft.  His short tenure in Vancouver didn’t disappoint as he struck out near enough 12 hitters per nine and displayed a sparking 1.35 FIP.  A promotion to double A New Hampshire followed and things were going swimmingly until he was hit with a fifty game suspension for a banned substance.  It was apparently in an over the counter supplement he purchased in Vancouver.  He still has plenty of that suspension to serve, so won’t see the mound anytime soon.  He did get into two spring training games in last ten days though, giving up zero hits over four innings of work with two K’s and a walk.

Anthopoulos has stated that Marcus will be stretched out as a starter in Dunedin, but with his ability to help the pen right now, it will be interesting to see how long they stick to their guns.

So, that’s it, my final review piece of the 2012 season.  I’ve written the last half of the piece while watching Texas play Houston in the opening game of the season.  That means the big boys have all left the spring training complexes.  I’d like to give an accurate prediction of when the minor league rosters will be officially announced, but in reality, I have no idea.  With Lansing and Dunedin beginning on Thursday, let’s say we have the necessary information on Tuesday.

(editors note: they were actually released yesterday! Will go through as soon as reasonably possible)

One Response

  1. […] good.  In fact, it contains two guys that I broke my ‘no release’ rule when making my off-season predictions and had them as saying goodbye to the Jays […]

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