MuchO GustO: How Do You Spell Relief?

Meet the new Strop, same as the old Strop.


It would appear, at this moment, that the stewardship of Dan Duquette means the era of high priced relievers is over. The Orioles found interesting bullpen options last season by exploiting the waiver wire (Pedro Strop, Zach Philips) and tapping internal resources (Troy Patton). Duquette has talked about maximizing resources and building depth and it is not news to readers of this site or even casual followers of the team that the bullpen has been huge money pit for the Orioles in the last decade. Is the Duq just sewing his wild oats, or can we envision a cheap, effective bullpen in a world post-Gregg? Who shall answer the call of the Duq in this mythical realm?

(For the purpose of this review, I'm excluding pitchers that have already made their major league debut)

Blus Chippers

Dan Klein: A high draft pick with an injury history that has at least not disappointed on that count, Klein still seems to be long on polish and potential. It's thought that if he can stay on the field for an extended period of time, there is a real possibility that he could make a meaningful contribution to the big club in 2012. I would be curious as to what the new regime has to say about talk of making him a starter again. In the 30 innings he pitched between Frederick and Bowie this year, he walked five batters and struck out 37 while allowing two homers. (RHP, 23/24 in 2012)

Clayton Schrader: A young fireballer already appearing on some organizational top prospect lists, Schrader impressed folks with a 13.1 K/9 at Frederick, though his 7.1 BB/9 is maybe more indicative of his 21 years. (RHP, 22 in 2012)

Ashur Tolliver: A 5th Round "walking wounded" pick from 2009 by Joe Jordan, Tolliver has yet to be really unleashed, but his K rate shows improvement. He showed a lot of promise at Delmarva and didn't walk anyone in 5 at Frederick. He's under 25 and a lefty. (LHP, 24 in 2012)

Mike Wright: Drafted in the 3rd Round in 2011, Wright pitched in 12 games between the GCL, Aberdeen and Delmarva. It's hard to project anything from such a limited showing, but it's thought that he could move quickly through the system as a reliever. (RHP, 22 in 2012)

Jobbers

Cole McCurry: I had previously devoted an entire post to McCurry. After extolling his virtues here and elsewhere, it's fair to say that his Fall League experience may have removed some of the shine from a nice 2011. (LHP, 26 in 2012)

Sean Gleason: Another feel good story from the regular season, Gleason, already a little old to be considered a prospect, got lit up in the AFL. He's been pitching in the Mexican League this Winter and has struck out 12 and walked 2 in 11 innings. (RHP, 26/27 in 2012)

Wild Cards

Miguel Socolovich: One of the flurry of six year minor league free agents signed early on in the post season, Socolovich possesses electric stuff and a little wildness. He has sported K/9s north of 10 in the past two seasons, but also BB/9s of 6.2 and 4.7. (RHP, 25/26 in 2012)

Brandon Erbe: It seems like ages since Erbe was considered a legit prospect and about as long since he was healthy. The Orioles left him unprotected and re-signed him to a minor league contract. Who doesn't want to see a local boy make good? (RHP, 24 in 2012)

Jason Gurka: No one really considers him a prospect, but I like him. Doesn't walk people, nice K rate (11.9 at Delmarva and 10.8 at Frederick) and he allowed 6 homers in 53 innings. (LHP, 24 in 2012)

Starters: There a bunch of guys in the system that have toiled in the system for a few years as starters and maybe should be converted to relief arms. Tim Bascom and Rick Zagone seem like prime candidates to me; Steve Johnson and Oliver Drake have been popular candidates elsewhere.

(Most of the numbers here were pulled from baseball-reference.com and firstinning.com)

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