June 5, 2014
The Situation: In recent years, Angels manager Mike Scioscia hasn’t had many reliable bullpen options to work with, and that’s continued to be the case in 2014. Anaheim’s bullpen entered play on Wednesday with a 4.32 ERA, the fifth-highest mark in the majors. In search of setup assistance, the Angels have called up 22-year-old right-hander Cam Bedrosian from Double-A Arkansas, where he’d posted some eye-popping numbers. He saw his first action on Tuesday, setting down the Astros in order with one K.
Background: The Angels popped Bedrosian with the second of their five first-round selections in the 2010 amateur draft, taking the righty with the no. 29 overall pick, which the team received as compensation after the Boston Red Sox signed free agent John Lackey. Bedrosian became the fifth (and highest-picked) player to be drafted out of East Coweta High School in Sharpsburg, Georgia. He has good bloodlines, as his father, Steve Bedrosian, pitched in the big leagues for 14 seasons and even won the NL Cy Young Award in 1987. However, Bedrosian found little success as a starter, struggling mightily in that role ever since returning from 2011 Tommy John surgery. To his credit, the 22-year-old has been able to reinvent himself as a reliever to the point where his 2014 numbers turn heads, as he’s sent 45 batters down on strikes in just 24 innings of work in High-A and Double-A, recording a 1.12 ERA.
The Scouting: Bedrosian is a tough one to figure out, as reports from his Arizona Fall League appearances don’t paint the picture of a shutdown reliever. However, he does possess big-league stuff with a loose arm and a compact delivery, and he appears to be getting the most out of his arsenal.
Bedrosian brings three offerings to the mound. The fastball is the bread-and-butter pitch, as he can run it up into the mid-90s with some movement and spot it around the zone. He will need to be careful when he goes up in the zone, however, as the pitch has a tendency to flatten out.
Bedrosian’s curveball will show above average when he’s able to keep it sharp by driving it down and staying on top of the ball. The importance of this offering cannot be understated, as Bedrosian will need a second pitch to pair with the heater, which hitters will be able to adjust to in the long term. His delivery lacks deception, so his opponents should be able to pick up the fastball out of his hand early.
Lastly, there’s Bedrosian’s hard slider, which has the characteristics of a cutter. It’s a below-average offering that he may use as a get-me-over offering to opposite-sided batters.
Immediate Impact: Given the state of the Angels bullpen, Bedrosian will be asked to contribute in a big way immediately. He’s getting more out of his arsenal now than ever before, but he could learn quickly what happens at the major-league level when a pitcher whose stuff can get flat misses his spot up. Look for Bedrosian to compete using his fastball-curveball combination while mixing in the hard slider to keep opposite-handed batters off-balance. The fastball’s success will make or break him. –Ron Shah
Fantasy Impact: Ernesto Frieri already went through his yearly ritual of surrendering the closer’s job for about a week, so I think Bedrosian just missed out on an opportunity for immediate fantasy relevance. The main concern with Bedrosian has been command. In a limited sample, his walk rate is hovering around the 10 percent region, but that’s something you can definitely live with if his strikeout rate approaches the 30s.
For now, Bedrosian is a middle reliever with limited value. Scioscia has displayed closer loyalty in the past, and Frieri has been pretty good since his blowup outing on April 23. I don’t see Bedrosian getting saves in the near future. Longer term, however, Bedrosian has the makings of a high-leverage reliever with the potential for some really nice peripheral numbers. –Mauricio Rubio
Ron Shah is an author of Baseball Prospectus.