Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dirtbags 2013 Preview: The Relievers

Two more weeks until the home opener versus Arizona at Blair Field. Ten days until opening day. Zero days until we wrap up our player previews. Here's a look at the Dirtbag bullpen...

Summary – “The depth of the Dirtbag bullpen should be one of their biggest strengths in 2013.”

I actually wrote those words back in January, before the news came down that starter Ryan Strufing and closer Kyle Friedrichs would miss the season due to Tommy John surgery. Suddenly, the veteran Dirtbag bullpen will be seriously tested in 2013. The 2012 squad has its own challenges after closer Eddie Magallon struggled in the early goings before surrendering the role. Friedrichs quickly stabilized the bullpen for the rest of the year, garnering an all-big west second team selection after notching 10 saves. This year’s bullpen has enough solid arms to put together a good season, but it could be stretched thin by the end of the year and many of the questions it faces won’t be answered until the starting rotation is stabilized.

Austin Boyle, Sophomore, RHP (2012: Did not play) – Boyle hasn’t had a particularly noteworthy college career thus far. After a mediocre freshman year he failed to make the 2012 Dirtbag roster altogether. He’ll return as a sophomore in 2013 but is unlikely to be a significant contributor.

J.C. Cloney, Freshman, LHP – Scouts have called Cloney “a poor man’s Tommy Milone” but I’m not really sure what the hell that’s supposed to mean. Anyway, Cloney isn’t particularly hard throwing (tops out around 88) but has a good feel for a fastball, slider and changeup. He had a dominating high school career, but for now it appears he’ll begin his college career in the bullpen. Should southpaws Landon Hunt and Nick Sabo both find themselves in the rotation, Cloney could be relied on heavily as the team’s top lefty reliever.

Kyle Friedrichs, Junior, RHP (2012: 1.88 ERA/1.12 WHIP/39:10 K:BB in 38.1 innings) – Friedrichs nabbed a second team All-Big West selection after taking over closer duties for the Dirtbags in late March. He was set to reprise that role in 2013 before Tommy John surgery scrapped his season. He’ll be back in the bullpen, in some capacity, in 2014.

Josh Frye, Junior, RHP (2012: 2.79 ERA/1.45 WHIP/16:6 K:BB in 19.1 innings) – Frye has had a solid first two years of his college career, though his time on the mound has been sporadic, logging just 35 innings through his sophomore year. Frye did manage to toss 67.2 innings over the summer between the SCCBA and Northwoods leagues, and was rated the number two prospect out of the SCCBA by Perfect Game (behind the now departed Matt Anderson). His stats may have benefited some from a low BABIP but Frye, armed with a good slider and low-90s fastball, also managed to fan 80 batters while walking just 19 over the summer. Expect Frye to be among the most heavily used right-handed arms this season.

David Hill, Freshman, RHP – Hill enters the 2013 season as the Dirtbags most highly rated recruit (remember that draft pitching prospect list mentioned in the Starting Pitcher preview? Carle was #184, Anderson #199, Stuart #203… Hill was #40). Hill topped out at 93 mph as a senior in high school and also offers a solid slider that sits in the low 80s and is developing a changeup. At 6’2” 180 it’s possible he’ll fill out a tad more. Though Hill might one day have the makings of a Friday starter, with incumbent closer Friedrichs out for the year Hill could get a look as the team’s top fireman in 2013.

Logan Lombana, Freshman, RHP – Lombana enters his rookie year without the credentials of his fellow freshmen pitchers Cloney and Hill. Hitting only 84 MPH on the gun in high school, the soft throwing right-hander will probably play a minor role on the 2013 team.

Eddie Magallon, Senior, RHP (2012: 4.09 ERA/1.82 WHIP/14:5 K:BB in 22 innings) – After transitioning from mid-week starter to closer in his sophomore year, Magallon surrendered his closer job after a rough start to his junior season. The good news is Magallon’s struggles last year may be attributed to bad luck, having surrendered an extremely high .443 BABIP. The bad news is Magallon has always been a pitch-to-contact guy and his low strikeout rates mean he’ll probably continue to be at the mercy of the luck factor. With only average fastball velocity, Magallon relies strongly on a splitter and changeup that he drops low in the zone. To his credit, he has had some of the best control on the team throughout his career. It’s possible Magallon will get another shot at the closer role this season, but short of that he should still be one of the team’s top middle relievers.

Ty Provencher, Red Shirt Freshman, RHP – Provencher is the last of four Dirtbag freshman relievers, although Ty is of the Red Shirt variety. When he first joined Long Beach State, Provencher was hitting around 88 on his fastball, though there's no word on his current velo. He also works with a good changeup. Though he still likely won’t get many innings, Provencher may be one of the more heavily used of the second-tier of Dirtbag relievers.

Nick Rosetta, Junior, RHP (2012 stats unavailable) – A teammate of Shane Carle at Cabrillo, Rosetta enters his junior year after decent but unspectacular JuCo career. He’ll battle for innings in 2013, though he likely won't be better than the Dirtbags third or fourth right-handed relief option.

Robert Silky, Junior, RHP (2012: Did not play) – Silky joins the Dirtbags after apparently missing the 2012 season at San Mateo College. He did, however, put together a decent season playing summer ball in the PWBL. He should be a minor piece of the 2013 staff.

Nate Underwood, Red Shirt Junior, RHP (2012: Red Shirted) – Underwood is back in the fold after missing the 2012 season due to injury. Prior to that he’d put together two decent seasons in relief for the Dirtbags, though his career K:BB ratio came to an underwhelming 15:16 in 53.2 innings. He has grown some since the start of his college career, when he was throwing in the high-80s (peaking at 90), so if that can help him start racking up the K’s, he could turn himself into a useful weapon in this Dirtbag bullpen.

Projected Closer: Hill

Up Next: We've met the players, we've projected the starters, now it's time to make a wild ass guess at the lineup. Let's play Lineupology!