Augusta GreenJackets | Bullpen
Without a doubt, competition will be fierce in Scottsdale during Giants minor league camp for spots in each full-season squad's bullpen. But the final decisions for that of the Augusta GreenJackets could be the most difficult for management minds to make. Here's a look at the most worthy candidates.
RHP - Cam McVey
RHP - Jake Smith
RHP - Daniel Slania
RHP - Tyler Rogers
RHP - Jake Shadle
RHP - Carlos Alvarado
LHP - Nicholas Gonzalez
LHP - Nick Jones
LHP - Christian Jones
There isn't a sliver of a chance that all nine of the names on the left make the same roster, but they're all deserving of some innings somewhere, if not in Augusta. Five of them, all right-handers, pitched for Salem-Keizer for most or all of 2013, with the eldest of the group Cameron McVey securing the most innings. In 42.1 frames — which was surprisingly tied for third most on the team — McVey 1.13 WHIP and a 3.29 ERA while striking out more than a batter per inning.
Jake Smith was that player tied with McVey at 42.1 innings pitched, and though the two had even more statistical similarities in 2013, Smith impressed even further in the strikeout category. Smith rung up 54 last year, but allowed a walk every other inning. Still, the 2011 48th-round pick was a solid rock for the Volcanoes and likely earned himself a 2014 promotion.
The Heath Bell look-a-like in the above video (courtesy of Jason Cole of Baseball Prospectus) is Giants 2013 fifth-round selection Dan Slania. Listed at six feet, five inches and 275 pounds, Slania is a beast. He throws the usual: fastball, changeup, slider and curveball. But note the tailing action on the fastball — which is low-90s — and the swing-and-misses on the sharp curveball. Slania threw just 13.2 innings with Salem-Keizer last year, which could be attributed to either a strict pitch-count or his duties as a closer. He also didn't make his first pro appearance until July 25 (likely an injury).
Submariner Tyler Rogers didn't allow a run, earned or unearned, in seven innings in Arizona. Then he transferred to Salem-Keizer where a 3.10 earned run average was posted in 20-plus innings of work. Rogers even joined San Jose's staff during the team's playoff run but failed to enter a game.
Jake Shadle rounds out the Volcanoes probables to make the GreenJackets roster. Drafted in 2010, Shadle grinded through three consecutive seasons with the AZL Giants before finally leaving the southwest to join Salem-Kezier in 2013. He, along with McVey and Smith, were the workhorses in the Volcano bullpen, logging 38.2 innings. Shadle maintained a 3.03 ERA in 21 appearances.
The next four names come from San Francisco's 2013 rookie roster as three out of the four were 2013 draftees. Carlos Alvarado was not one of those picked last year, but the six-foot, four-inch righty was more than serviceable in his first pro season in the United States. With 29 baserunners allowed in 28.1 innings plus 37 punch-outs, Alvarado should wind up somewhere new in 2014.
Lefties Nicholas Gonzalez, Nick Jones and Christian Jones began their maiden year of professional ball together in Arizona. Christian Jones split time between Arizona and Salem-Keizer, pitching well (2.84 ERA, four walks in 19.0 innings) in both locations. Nick Jones was one of many tall relief arms selected by San Francisco in June, standing at six feet, six inches. Nick held a sub-one WHIP over 18.2 innings with a 1.93 ERA and two saves. Gonzalez had easily the most impressive stat line in Arizona — a 0.52 WHIP in 17.1 innings. Only nine opposing hitters reached base over his seven relief appearances as the six-foot, four-inch, 220-pound South Florida product also struck out 17.
Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to comment on the 2014 Minor League Roster Predictions page. Discussion is always good.