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San Francisco Giants: Who is recently promoted reliever Sam Coonrod?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 26: Sam Coonrod #65 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his Major League debut during the eighth inning at Oracle Park on May 26, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the San Francisco Giants 6-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 26: Sam Coonrod #65 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his Major League debut during the eighth inning at Oracle Park on May 26, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the San Francisco Giants 6-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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The San Francisco Giants have a new face in the MLB bullpen. So who is right-hander Sam Coonrod?

Somewhat lost in the shuffle of cutting ties with Mac Williamson and the MLB debut of Mike Yastrzemski, the San Francisco Giants also added a new reliever to the active roster.

Left-hander Andrew Suarez was optioned back to the minors before Sunday’s game and right-hander Sam Coonrod was promoted from Triple-A Sacramento to take his place.

Coonrod was already on the 40-man roster, so no corresponding move was needed to facilitate his promotion.

So who is Sam Coonrod?

The 26-year-old was a fifth-round pick out of Southern Illinois University in 2014, and he began his pro career working as a starter.

In fact, an excellent Single-A debut in 2015 where he posted a 3.14 ERA with 114 strikeouts in 112.1 innings was enough to make him the No. 6 prospect in the San Francisco Giants system heading into the 2016 season, according to Baseball America.

While his bottom-line numbers were strong once again the following season with a 2.55 ERA in 141 innings of work, his walk rate (2.7 to 3.8 BB/9) was a troubling sign below the surface.

The wheels fell off in 2017 at Double-A where he posted a 4.69 ERA with 42 walks in 103.2 innings, and he was eventually moved to the bullpen. He made six relief appearances before suffering an arm injury that led to Tommy John surgery.

He returned for 10 appearances last season, but the 2019 season is really his first season fully committed to a bullpen role.

The surface-level stats have been ugly. He posted a 7.00 ERA and 1.94 WHIP in 18 appearances prior to his promotion on Sunday.

However, his 15.0 K/9 speak to a pitcher with the swing-and-miss stuff to be an asset, and the offensive explosion taking place at Triple-A has made it tough to evaluate pitchers on statistical production.

MLB.com wrote the following while ranking him as the No. 23 prospect in the system heading into this season:

"Coonrod has gone from a 92-95 mph sinker as a starter to a 95-98 four-seam fastball as a reliever. His mid-80s slider/cutter can be a plus pitch at times but gets slurvy at others. He tried to develop a changeup when he worked out of the rotation but has abandoned it in his new role.Coonrod is more aggressive and does a better job of going after hitters as a reliever. The Giants once hoped he could become a mid-rotation starter but now see him as a possible late-inning bullpen option."

He looked sharp in his MLB debut on Sunday, pitching a scoreless eighth while recording his first big league strikeout in a 19-pitch inning.

With a number of bullpen pieces expected to be on the move at the trade deadline, Coonrod is someone who could be asked to step into a more prominent role down the stretch and looking ahead to next season.

Next. Mac Williamson and the sad outfield abyss

There is little doubt he has the stuff to be a useful contributor for the San Francisco Giants. As long as he keeps throwing scoreless innings, it will be hard to send him back to the minors.

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