SF Giants prospects position preview chat: Relievers (Part 3)
M: I’ve been high on Sam Wolff and Cyr for a long time and expected them to get a shot this season before Santos and Castro emerged as high-leverage options. They are obviously on the older side, but I think a ton of really good relievers who don’t necessarily have elite-type stuff get buried in the upper minors even though they’re effective because teams don’t believe the numbers (kind of like what happened with Tyler Rogers).
W: It’s really sad to see them not get their big league debuts yet, especially for Wolff who is already 30 years old. I was high on both Wolff and Cyr as well, and Patrick Ruotolo too. I really hope there’s a shot that Wolff and Cyr will make their big league debuts this season given how much Kapler has used the bullpen already this season.
M: Lower in the system, Solomon Bates seemed to suffer from a lot of bad batted-ball luck in 2019, and quietly struck out 60 batters and walked just 10 across 43.1 innings between AZL, Class-A, and High-A. His stuff has always looked quite pedestrian (not big velocity or a clear putaway pitch), but it’s hard to deny those results. Tyler Schimpf and Ben Madison were another pair of relievers from the 2018 draft class that racked up punchouts in 2019 but have shown some issues with walks. Israel Cruz, acquired from the Rangers alongside Wolff in the Matt Moore trade, seemed to make some progress as a reliever in 2019, he’d always been a two-pitch player from most reports, so I’m curious to see if he has some momentum this year.
W: It’s definitely hard to deny the results from Bates, who I think can take the next step out of the bullpen in 2021. I think he hides the ball well in his body that can result in strikeouts even with fringy stuff and control. There are a lot of guys in the system aside from Schimpf and Madison who have good to great strikeout numbers but suffer from the high walk rates. Guys like Nick Morreale, Matt Seelinger, Raffi Vizcaino, Jose Marte, Prelander Berroa, etc. are all in the same boat. Hopefully, there will be a couple who will break out of the pack and post a strong walk rate in 2021. If I’m betting my money on one, I think it’s Seelinger.
M: I think this is a pretty good rundown of the lower-caliber arms. Back to the top, if you had to put your money on one pitcher in the organization becoming an All-Star closer, who would it be?
W: I do agree it’s a pretty good rundown and there are still a lot of relievers that we forgot to talk about! I’m giving a nod to Aaron Phillips, Jesus Tona, and Kanoa Pagan!
If I’m going to put my money on who has the best shot of becoming an All-Star closer for the Giants, I’m going all-in on Castro. I mean Doval and Santos have great stuff, but just like a starting pitcher, you have to have consistent control night in and night out and that’s what Castro has that Doval and Santos are a good step behind.
M: That’s a great call. Heck! I forgot to mention Joey Marciano who is coming back to minor-league camp with a new and improved offspeed pitch alongside new mid-90s velocity. He had some lower-minors success as a starter and he’s someone else fans should know about.
I normally lean towards command with starters, but I thought Santos had a good shot to stick in the rotation, so it’s hard for me to not see him as a premium reliever. If I’m picking one reliever to be my closer in five years, it’s Santos. Granted, there could be a case for Blake Rivera, but he is still being developed as a starter for now.
W: I was psyched to see him post those juicy videos on Twitter during the quarantine. Mid-90s from the left side is certainly a big deal for teams and he will hopefully surprise us with a strong 2021 season.
M: Alright, once again, great talk. I can’t wait to wrap these previews up next weekend talking about the quietly improving starting pitching depth.
W: Yep. It’s a great talk and I had a lot of fun. I can’t wait for next week!
Stay tuned to Around the Foghorn for plenty more SF Giants prospects coverage. Next week, Wrenzie and Marc will be back with another discussion, this time diving into the Giants outfielders.