Previous articles in this series:
- Get to Know: Catcher Prospects
- Get to Know: First Base Prospects
- Get to Know: Second Base Prospects
- Get to Know: Third Base Prospects
- Get to Know: Shortstop Prospects
- Get to Know: Outfield Prospects for 2015
- Get to Know: Outfield Prospects for 2016 and Beyond
- Get to Know: Starting Pitching Prospects for 2015
- Get to Know: Starting Pitching Prospects for 2016 and Beyond
Last year, we split this category into starters likely to be relievers and relief prospects. That probably would have been the right thing to do this year, but since we’ve already addressed Kyle Crick in the starting pitcher iteration of this exercise, we’ve officially crossed The Line. There’s no going back.
More than anything though, I need to stress my strong, borderline-spiteful resentment for the practice of using roster spots on relief prospects. We’ve hammered home just how fungible most closers are and yet so many of you are insistent on finding a guy who might inherit that role three years from now. Color me confused.
Not only are relief roles highly unpredictable, but relievers themselves suffer massive variance from year to year. Investing in even the best relief prospects assumes some type of continuity of progression, as well as stabilization within the organization that seems impossible to predict. That being said, here are some power arms worth watching if you have literally nothing better to do with your time.
Let’s set a few things straight, shall we? This is not no particular order. The running gag throughout in no way constitutes a comp. Yes, there are probably other relief prospects worth mentioning but haha, that was a trick there are no relief prospects worth mentioning this is just an exercise in futility.
Jacob Lindgren, Yankees
He could be in the majors this year, and he’s tough on lefties thanks to a potent
potable fastball/slider combination. Lefties don’t get to close as often as they probably should, and Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller are in town for a while, so there’s probably not much here until injuries strike. Yankees fans will remember the name Mark Montgomery, probably.
Cam Bedrosian, Angels
Bedrosian blew through the minor leagues on the back of a 70 fastball, while flashing an above-average slider and below-average command. He can survive in the big leagues with that type of arsenal, but it’s hardly the stuff closer dreams are made of. Y’know. Like Jeremy Jeffress was?
Nick Burdi, Twins
The rare reliever with a chance for three average-or-better pitches, Burdi can touch triple digits with an explosive fastball. He complements it with a dynamic slider and can flash an average change. Why not start? There’s a lot of effort in the delivery. He’s one of a few mold-breaking pitchers when it comes to the Twins, and an easy candidate for future closer. Then again, so was Casey Weathers.
Nick Howard, Reds
There’s a solid chance he’s a starter, especially given the Reds ability to turn college relievers into starting pitchers, but since he closed for UVA, we’ll mention him here. He’ll touch 98 MPH in relief and works with two breaking balls, both of which could play above average at peak. Whether he can turn over a lineup enough times without a changeup is to be determined. If not, he profiles as a bullpen anchor, just like Phillippe Aumont once did.
Jonathon Crawford, Reds
I would prefer if you did not.
Raisel Iglesias, Reds
Again with the Reds and their ability to turn relievers into competent starters. Still, at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds and a history of relieving in Cuba, it’s hard to imagine Iglesias holding up under a starter’s workload. He’s got a low- to mid-90s fastball and a slider capable to generating swings-and-misses. He has a starters arsenal, but is most likely to end up in the pen. Chapman still exists and there’s no guarantee the closer role will ever be open in Cincinnati, but if it is, Iglesias could slot in there. Of course, the same could be said of Ryan Perry, once upon a time.
Corey Knebel, Brewers
Milwaukee just signed Francisco Rodriguez for not insignificant money over the next two years, which doesn’t help Knebel’s case. What does is a big fastball and a hammer curve. If you built a prototype reliever, it would look a lot like Knebel in terms of build and stuff. But then again, they said the same things about Craig Hansen.
Keone Kela, Rangers
Take what I said about Knebel and put it into a smaller, squat-er package. Kela can touch triple digits and sits in the upper 90s, with control but lacking command. His premium velocity makes it tough for hitters to wait on his plus curve. He’s a possible future option for the closer role should Neftali Feliz lose his groove or his health. The tag of future closer was once granted to the likes of Daniel Moskos, though, so buyer beware.
R.J. Alvarez, Athletics
He’s got a closer-type ceiling but lacks the command to assume his developmental journey will be smooth. His fastball-slider combo can be successful at the major-league level, as he proved in a 10-inning sting at the end of 2014. Of course, Daniel Bard was successful at one point, too.
Francellis Montas, White Sox
There’s not an insignificant chance that Montas could start. Of course there’s not an insignificant (read: any) chance that ants will crawl in your lungs and eat you from the inside out. Montas is a large individual with some mechanical woes and premium stuff. There’s a perfect development ceiling here of mid-rotation starter (or perhaps a tick above), but there are a lot of hurdles in the way and Montas can barely repeat his mechanics, now you want him to jump over hurdles? Smh. You might remember that name from such prospects as: Andrew Brackman.
Sam Tuivailala, Cardinals
Carlos Martinez but a little bit taller and with a better slider and no changeup. This comp really fell apart. Basically, Tuivailala throws damn hard with a good slider. He’s a really good relief prospect! Don’t roster him because he won’t close for at least two years probably. Remember Chance Ruffin?
Derek Law, Giants
Not only is he exactly like the other relievers that throw hard on this list with a good secondary pitch (curveball) but he’s also hurt! Continue to not invest in him at this moment, as a reliever’s fantasy relevance could come to define the term ephemeral. Jonny Venters could have been a great closer. He ended up with six saves in his career.
Michael Cederoth, Twins
Cederoth pumps easy heat from a lanky 6-foot-6 frame. The Twins are going to give him a shot to start, where he’ll complement his fastball/slider combo with a curve and a cutter but they’re fringy and lag behind the two dominant pitches. Big arm strength, a plus-plus fastball and a plus slider are more than many a successful closer has worked with. Of course, it could describe Fautino De Los Santos, too.
Bruce Rondon, Tigers
Big. Everything is big. Bruce? Big. Velo? Big. Arm strength? Big. His concept of the strike zone? Big. The opportunity he missed during his recovery from Tommy John? Big. Humberto Sanchez? Big. Failure.
Jacob Rhame, Dodgers
There’s no reason to know his name because he’s a 21-year-old reliever at Low-A. Then again, he did strike out 90 in 67 1/3 innings against only 14 walks. How his low-to mid-90s sinking fastball and middling change/curve combination work in the upper minors will likely dictate his value, but if you’re someone who likes to lock up relievers way too early, Rhame is for you. So, too, was Ryan Wagner.
Jake Reed, Twins
Another hard-throwing reliever for Minnesota! Terry Ryan had to have ordered a fainting couch by now. Reed works 93-97 MPH with the kind of life that gets held back two years in high school. His breaking ball is slurvy but effective. Consider him a future back-end option just like Johnny Hellweg.
Carson Smith, Mariners
Smith slings a heavy 93-97 MPH fastball with big arm side run from the right side. His offspeed is a slider that he can manipulate, and that ranges from the low- to high-80s depending on what he’s trying to do. He’s a potential heir to a Seattle throne once held by the likes of Danny Farquhar and Tom Wilhelmsen. Michael Olmsted was once a thing.
Others: Chris Reed, Dodgers; Jack Leathersich, Mets; Shawn Armstrong, Indians; Jairo Diaz, Rockies; Nick Wittgren, Marlins; Yimi Garcia, Dodgers; Jake Barrett, Diamondbacks; Jose Dominguez, Rays; John Stilson, Blue Jays; Jose Valdez, Tigers; Arodys Vizcaino, Braves; Steven Okert, Giants
Minor announcement: This is my last scheduled fantasy article. From here on out, I will be contributing mainly on the prospect side, though I’ll no doubt pitch in for some Dynasty Dynamics articles with Ben. I’ll continue to be a host on TINO as well, so don’t worry/I’m sorry. Writing about relief prospects in a fantasy context was the final straw. No one can blame me. No one.