Richmond Flying Squirrels | Bullpen
If there's one area 2013's Richmond Flying Squirrels team struggled, it was without question their bullpen. One relief pitcher had a WHIP below one and the next lowest was 1.18. Without going into a plethora of stats, the bottom line is that hitters reached and those runners scored against Richmond a year ago. But with a new wave of hot arms on the way, San Francisco's Double-A affiliate could look much better in 2014.
RHP - Derek Law*
LHP - Josh Osich
LHP - Bryce Bandilla
RHP - Jose Casilla
RHP - Jacob Dunnington
RHP - Austin Fleet
LHP - Phil McCormick
RHP - Jorge Bucardo
RHP - Stephen Harrold
Derek Law stands out as the clear frontrunner to pitch the ninth inning for Richmond this year, though Josh Osich and Bryce Bandilla can handle those duties, as well. Law received a major-league camp invite and has already impressed Andrew Baggarly in Scottsdale with his live arm and unique delivery. He was fantastic in Augusta to begin last season before being promoted to San Jose where he became infinitely better, putting up a jaw-dropping 45/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25.1 innings pitched. Then he proceeded to pitch 12.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League and not allow a single earned run. The guy is raw. Among other pitches, Law is known for a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a nasty 12-6 curve.
*UPDATE: Brian Sabean spoke with the media today and indicated that Law is in contention to make the San Francisco club. Due to those strong words, I highly doubt he will play in Richmond at all, which means it looks like a high possibility Derek could be "laying down the Law" as the Fresno closer in 2014. Sorry, I had to get that out of my system.
Osich finished the season ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the Giants system. Drafted out of Oregon State — a former college teammate of Andrew Susac — Osich is a hard-throwing lefty with late inning stuff. He dominated early in 2013 while playing with San Jose, but didn't fair as well after transferring up to Richmond, compiling a 4.85 ERA in 29.2 innings. Still, Osich has major-league talent and could wind up in Fresno before the end of next year if he improves.
Like Law, Bandilla had one of those unbelievable stats during the 2013 season. Aside from being unhittable, finishing the year with a .167 opposing batting average, Bandilla struck out a whopping 72 hitters in 44.1 innings. To begin the season, he struck out 27 in his first 12 innings. Overall, he rung up the side eight times in 38 appearances. He contains the same build as Osich but is two inches taller and a bit more wild of a delivery.
Santiago Casilla's younger brother Jose was solid in San Jose after repeating at the Advanced-A level, though he was hit around with more hits than innings pitched. Jacob Dunnington didn't pitch as frequently in 2013 as he probably had hoped due to injury, but he was well-above average during his healthy innings. He struck out 29 batters in 20 innings spanning three teams and allowed 17 hits over that span.
Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to comment on the 2014 Minor League Roster Predictions page. Discussion is always good.