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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

MLB mop-up duty for hitters

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Perfect Game

In honor of the Chris Davis’ victory over Darnell McDonald Sunday night (otherwise referenced as the Orioles 9-6 17-inning victory over the Red Sox) we thought we’d take a quick look at the 25 man rosters for all 30 big league teams and see which position player was best qualified to be an emergency reliever.

Of course, who is first in line for such emergency duty isn’t necessarily a function of who is best qualified to do it. Josh Hamilton’s fragile body isn’t going to take the mound for the Rangers, nor is Buster Posey going to risk a second serious injury to win a game in May. And what would be the reaction to Justin Upton blowing up his UCL throwing the 16
th inning of a game?

But this is who “Should” be pitching for a team who runs out of pitchers.

Baltimore: Chris Davis threw 90 at the 2003 Perfect Game National Showcase and has an extensive pitching background, so it was a good choice. Another good choice would have been Nick Markakis, who I saw sit at 90-93 with a nasty curveball while at Young Harris (GA) JC and was up to 95 at times before being drafted in the first round as an outfielder. J.J. Hardy had two-way promise coming out of high school.

Boston: Ryan Sweeney was an accomplished left handed pitcher in high school who I teased that he intentionally never topped out at more than 89 mph because he didn’t want to be considered a pitching prospect (he smiled and didn’t answer). Recent call-up Will Middlebrooks (who hit a grand slam in the game in question) was a low-90s hurler in high school.

New York Yankees: The Yankees are too old to have an obvious secondary pitcher. I don’t even remember Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter pitching in high school.

Tampa Bay: Sean Rodriguez was a solid high school pitcher with a 90 mph fastball. I saw B.J. Upton close out a high school game once and he was 87-88 with a decent curveball.

Toronto: There are no obvious candidates but outfielder Colby Rasmus is out, he blew out his elbow pitching as a sophomore in high school when he was topping out at 92 mph.

Chicago White Sox: Brett Lillibridge can do everything else, I’m sure he can pitch as well.

Cleveland: Shin-Soo Choo was a low to mid-90s thrower as a prospect, but like a couple of other players on this list was more highly valued as a hitting prospect.

Detroit: Delmon Young threw in the mid-90s in high school. I can’t remember the details but I think I remember Brennan Boesch as a pretty good pitcher, although I could be wrong.

Kansas City: Both Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas were ignored as high school pitching prospects because they were such good hitters. But both were mid-90s throwers, with Hosmer’s velocity from the left side being especially notable.

Minnesota: Trevor Plouffe was a very solid two-way prospect when he was a 2003 PG/Aflac All-American.

Los Angeles Angels: Mark Trumbo was considered a better pitching prospect by many teams when the Angels drafted and signed him as a position player in 2004.

Oakland: Brandon Inge closed in college at Virginia Commonwealth.

Seattle: There was a story circulating a few years ago that Ichiro jumped onto the bullpen mound long before the gates opened a few years ago and threw 93-94 with little effort. Observing his outfield arm over the years, that’s no surprise at all.

Texas: I saw Josh Hamilton throw up to 95 in high school and he would likely have been a first round draft pick as a left handed pitcher if he wasn’t such a dynamic hitter. Of course, the chances of Hamilton pitching are roughly the same as Jose Canseco’s pitching for the Rangers...oops, just kidding.

Atlanta: Jason Heyward and Tyler Pastornicky were both low-90s pitchers in high school, although Pastornicky had enough effort in his delivery that it would worry manager Fredi Gonzalez about is availability to play shortstop the next day.

Miami: Gaby Sanchez and Austin Kearns were both strong armed pitchers in high school, with Kearns getting heavy scouting attention from the mound.

New York Mets: Ike Davis was a two-way player at Arizona State and would likely be one of the better emergency pitchers in the Majors today.

Philadelphia: Like the Yankees, the Phillies older roster doesn’t lend itself to emergency pitchers as long as Dominic Brown is not active. Any need would assuredly NOT be filled by Juan Pierre.

Washington: Would it be cruel to put Rick Ankiel back on the mound after all he went through at the end of his pitching career? Bryce Harper threw in the mid-90s with limited command as a high school sophomore, but that probably doesn’t surprise anyone.

Chicago Cubs: Joe Mather has a 0-1 career record, having lost a game for the Cardinals in 2010. He’s nominated due to experience.

Cincinnati: For as many athletes as the Reds have, they have no obvious pitching candidate. Todd Frazier would seem to have some potential in that area, especially looking all the way back to his days as a 12-year old Little League hero.

Houston: Brian Bogusevic was a first round pick out of Tulane as a left handed pitcher in 2005 before transitioning Rick Ankiel style in 2008.

Milwaukee: Starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy gets the nod as his younger brother David was recruited to pitch for Coastal Carolina, who we've seen up to 91 at our events.

Pittsburgh: I’m surprised Clint Barmes hasn’t thrown an inning or two in the big leagues already.

St. Louis: Tyler Greene was a five-tool player in high school and has pitching in his background.

Arizona: Justin Upton has as much chance of taking the mound as Josh Hamilton, but he threw up to 94 at Perfect Game events. Cody Ransom and Willie Bloomquist seem like ideal candidates for an inning or two.

Colorado: The Rockies are perhaps the deepest team in baseball in emergency pitchers. Chris Nelson was up to 94 mph at WWBA events and Jordan Pacheco had a nasty curveball both as a high schooler and at New Mexico to go with his 88-90 mph fastball. Of course, Todd Helton was an All-American pitcher at Tennessee a couple of decades ago. Anyone want to speculate on how hard Troy Tulowitski would throw off the mound?

Los Angeles Dodgers: James Loney was a high school pitching rival of Jeff Neimann and Scott Kazmir in the Houston prep ranks and considered an equally deserving pitching prospect by many scouts.

San Diego: Mark Kotsay was a similar college pitcher to Todd Helton: Extremely successful.

San Francisco: Buster Posey was a better pitching prospect out of high school as a 2004 Aflac All-American and closed at Florida State while first playing shortstop, then catcher. Brandon Belt was also a primary left handed pitching prospect out of high school and as a freshman at San Jacinto JC before becoming a full-time position player at Texas.

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