San Jose Giants | Bullpen
So many prospects, not enough space. As these bullpen projections continue to get cranked out, you the readers will begin to wonder where certain names are located. I simply have nowhere to put them. Thankfully, I don't make the final decisions. I just throw darts in a dark room.
DISCLAIMER: I apologize to all, but since I saw none of these players last season, or any season of that matter, no video. Just words.
The first name on the list stunned everyone with a remarkable streak to begin the 2013 season. Playing for the Augusta GreenJackets, Tyler Mizenko began the year with a perfect, two-strikeout inning on April 5 against Lexington. The right-hander then proceeded to pitch his next 19 innings — spanning from April 6 to May 21 — without allowing an earned or unearned run. Zeroes. All the way down. Serving as the GreenJackets' closer, Mizenko racked up 25 saves in a 52.1-inning season while maintaining a 2.75 ERA. He will likely do more of the same at Municipal Stadium in 2014.
Though Mizenko blew fans away with his insane streak, Augusta Chronicle writer and GreenJackets beat reporter David Lee says he wasn't the most impressive relief pitcher on the staff. That title went to Stephen Johnson, who saved eight ballgames of his own in 2013. the staff. Johnson struggled with command at times, walking 30 hitters in 52.1 innings, but was typically one of the more unhittable arms in the pen for Augusta. He struck out 71 batters in 2013 and held them to a .215 batting average.
Steven Okert was another one of Augusta's go-to guys last year, logging 60.2 innings in 44 appearances. The left-hander held a 2.97 ERA and struck out just under a batter per inning, but like most relievers for the GreenJackets in 2013, struggled keeping runners off base with a 1.30 WHIP. Still, Okert did more than enough to earn a spot in San Jose's "dog pound" for the impending year, barring any setbacks in minor league camp.
The next two arms, both lefties, will likely serve the role of a long-relief/sixth starter in 2014. Joe Kurrasch and Matt Lujan both failed to record a loss last season, combining to win 12 games in 16 starts for Augusta. But the win is weird stat. For Lujan, who won seven games, runners were on base constantly. He allowed a hit every inning and a walk every other inning. Nonetheless, he kept runners from scoring as often as he could, compiling a 3.33 ERA in 78.1 innings. The GreenJackets handed Lujan the gift of run support, never scoring less than six runs in each of his seven wins.
For Kurrasch, he's truly a toss-up. I guess I overlooked his 2013 season a bit when projecting San Jose's rotation this year. Based on last year's numbers, he has as good of a shot as anyone to make the starting five. I believe the decision will come down to either going with six starting pitchers (which San Jose incorporated frequently a year ago) or whether Salem-Keizer ace Chris Johnson will promote to Augusta or San Jose. Kurrasch struggled mightily as a member of the Volcanoes staff but found a rhythm in the South Atlantic League, posting a 1.78 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in the final 25.1 innings of the year.
Jorge Bucardo, a former San Francisco Giants Top-20 prospect, began the season in San Jose before being transferred back to Augusta. The move paid off as Bucardo strung together a string of quality outings to become arguably the GreenJackets' most dominant bullpen arm. While recording six saves, Bucardo had an earned run average of 1.84, a WHIP of 0.95 and an opposing batting average of .197. He might even have a shot at Richmond's roster.
*UPDATE: With Derek Law likely making even the Fresno or San Francisco roster, I moved Bucardo, who I thought had a pretty good shot at the Richmond roster anyway, up to the Flying Squirrels.
The final three names of the list are, for the most part, long shots, but their 2013 seasons sure are worthy of playing time at higher levels. The question remains as to how high management will move them. Raymundo Montero closed out 14 ballgames for Salem-Keizer in 2013, good enough for second most saves in the Northwest League. He was also quite dominant at times, striking out 43 in 29.2 innings while finishing the season below two in ERA and below one in WHIP. Eduardo Encinosa ended the season with San Jose as part of their expanded roster, but never took the mound. The Florida native's numbers weren't exactly shiny, but they were respectable at 21 strikeouts, 10 walks and eight hits in 17.1 innings. I see the call-up to San Jose as a sign that management likes whatever he's got.
Last but not least (but actually the smallest) is Eury Sanchez, a major long shot who pitched for the AZL team in 2013. Stadning at just five feet, ten inches and weighing only 170 pounds, Sanchez fooled hitters with nasty stuff and superb control in Arizona. He accumulated 26 punch outs in 16 innings and allowed just four walks. Like Encinosa, San Jose purchased his contract at the end of the year to join the Giants for their playoff run, but did not enter a game.
Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to comment on the 2014 Minor League Roster Predictions page. Discussion is always good.