July 29, 2013
Painting the Black
The Mid-Season Unknowns
One of the better perseverance stories in the majors this season. Bernier is a 33-year-old rookie who entered 2013 with four big-league plate appearances, those coming in 2008 as a member of the Rockies. He's spent the time since playing for various Triple-A affiliates, trying to reach the show again and record his first career hit. The Twins gave Bernier the chance last week and he took advantage, doubling down the left-field line against Joe Blanton.
Jose De La Torre
De La Torre started the year by impressing with Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Once the season began he worked his way into the majors, and has made a few appearances since. A small right-hander with a varied arsenal, De La Torre throws the standard two low-90s fastballs along with a slider and changeup. He's missed bats and the zone alike so far. Given that he's 27 it's fair to wonder if he'll ever control the ball well enough to stick in middle relief. Otherwise he'll find himself in an up-and-down capacity.
There were plenty of things working against Field reaching the majors. For one he's short, either 5-foot-9 or 5-foot-10, depending on the source. For another he was a 24th-round pick. Field played well enough to force his way into 18 games with the Rockies over the past two seasons, yet he was placed on waivers this winter and claimed by the Twins. A few weeks later the Angels snatched him off waivers and he's recently returned to the majors. There's a chance he latches on as a utility infielder; if so, expect the Eckstein comparisons to roll in.
Originally signed as a 20-year-old amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic, Germen is a well-built right-hander who throws hard and throws strikes. That combination has led him to post good peripherals during his minor-league days, including a 4.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio this year, his first as a full-fledged reliever. He's got a chance to turn into a useful middle reliever.
The Padres' 31st-round pick in 2007, Hynes is a small southpaw who tops out around 90 and throws a breaking ball about 10 ticks slower. Because he's an obscure left-handed reliever in the San Diego organization, you'd expect some funk in his delivery. Sure enough, Hynes has some unusual mechanics that culminate with a closed-off landing and a three-quarters arm slot. He throws strikes, doesn't hurt himself with walks—he issued two in his 47 1/3 minor-league innings this season, against 58 strikeouts—and may find himself as a second lefty in a bullpen if all goes well. Otherwise it'll be an up-and-down life.
Medina has been in the majors for most of this season, and has compiled some nice numbers. He's the product of a lengthy development cycle, having joined the Mariners as an international free agent back in 2005—for reference: Pat Borders caught for Seattle on the day he signed. Medina is a blocky righty with good velocity and a slider. Although probably not this good, he should be good enough to fill a middle-relief role.
Before the Reds moved Partch to the bullpen permanently last season, he was little more than a mediocre starter. His stock has improved, though, and he found his way to the majors behind some improved numbers this season. Big right-handed pitchers that touch the upper 90s with their fastballs get long leashes and more opportunities than their performances otherwise merit.
For Susdorf to stick in the majors he'll have to hit. It's something he's done during his time in Triple-A this season despite weird hitting mechanics that see him lean into the plate as he swings. The former 19th-round pick is a corner outfielder who hasn't shown much power or ability to swipe bases in the minors. He notched his first hit on Sunday afternoon.
Wooten debuted on Friday night. An older arm who doesn't throw hard or feature much in the way of gimmicks, he relies on an assortment of pitches—including a cutter—and the ability to throw strikes. Wooten works with a thin margin, and that the Brewers chose against protecting him in the Rule 5 draft is telling of how they view his upside. Still, he's got the chance to make a better impression during this cameo appearance.