Tinkering with the pitching depth is a never-ending task as the SF Giants added one more name as a late entrant to camp.
One more name added to SF Giants pitching battle
It is going to be tough for a late entrant like Pfeifer to standout, but the Giants want to see what he can do. The Los Angeles Dodgers originally drafted the southpaw in the third round of the 2015 out of Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee.
Pfeifer has plenty of connections to people in the Giants organization as he was teammates with Mike Yastrzemski, Sam Selman, and Tyler Beede at Vanderbilt. Plus, he was drafted to a Dodgers organization that had both Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler working as the general manager and director of player development, respectively.
His time with the Dodgers was short-lived as he was shipped to the Atlanta Braves along with another prospect in Caleb Dirks in exchange for Bud Norris.
In five minor-league seasons, he has registered a 3.58 ERA, 1.343 WHIP, and a 2.26 SO/W ratio across 297 frames. However, as his 4.7 BB/9 ratio suggests, he does battle command issues at times.
As a minor leaguer, Pfeifer has experience working out of the bullpen and the rotation, so he brings some added versatility to the table. He is still relatively new to starting, but it was an experiment that went well as Eric Logenhagen and Kile McDaniel of Fangraphs note:
"“From his time at Vanderbilt through his 2018 pro season, Pfeifer was a reliever with four pitches and fringe command. His performance was never quite good enough to become a big league middle reliever, so as a last resort of sorts in his age 26/27 season, the Braves put him in the Hi-A rotation in 2019. His performance was fantastic, with comparable stuff to his relief self through the aid of pitch design (90-94, touching 95, a slider and curveball both flashing above average, with the changeup behind), and he made his way back to Triple-A in this new role. He was added to the 40-man roster this winter and may now be an inventory, multi-role big league piece if he can sustain in this role.”"
San Francisco is still light on starting pitcher depth in the upper minor-league levels, so they may want to continue this experiment. It is interesting that he was used as a reliever for so long with four pitches. Normally, bullpen arms use two or three pitches at most, but a four-pitch hurler is usually tried out as a starter.
Spring training is winding down, so it is going to be tough for Pfeifer to really open eyes in a small sample of two weeks. However, as a late signing, the Giants likely see him as pitching depth who can begin the year in Sacramento.