2014 Roster Projections: Bullpens

Maybe the hardest group to predict, especially with all the AAA-type arms brought in this offseason. I’ll say this though: there’s some talented relief pitchers here, no matter where they end up on Opening Day. I think this exercise helped remind me just how much pitching depth the organization has, and not just at the starter level. With the quartet of Romo, Casilla, Lopez and Affeldt getting a long in the tooth (for bullpen standards), I could easily see two or three guys from within being able to step in and eventually play key late-inning roles in the next few seasons (hopefully starting with Heath Hembree). Relief arms are always coming and going, so it certainly never hurts to have some depth in your system… the Giants are getting there. Anyway, enough chatter. Here they are:

Fresno

LR: Mitch Lively

MR: George Kontos

MR: Dan Runzler

MR: Adam Reifer

MR: Jake Dunning

SU: Brett Bochy

CL: Derek Law

This was by far the hardest group to put together, with quite a few non-roster invite guys getting left out (Willis, Loe, Carignan, Weathers, Dolis, Gutierrez). It’s really anyone’s guess at this point who will get these spots out of camp, but I just get the feeling the Giants will mostly go with familiar faces. Reifer is the only newcomer to the organization in this group, and I like what he brings to the table. No MLB experience, but he was dominant pitching in AAA for the Marlins last season. The excitement here is Law, who I can’t wait to see. Most of the folks at MCC had him starting the year in Richmond, but I think the organization pushes him… and Fresno needs a closer, so what the hey?

Richmond

LR: Chris Marlowe

MR: Jacob Dunnington

MR: Bryce Bandilla

MR: Jose Casilla

MR: Erik Cordier

SU: Josh Osich

CL: Cody Hall

As if the Squirrels’ rotation isn’t already going to be studly this summer, Eastern League hitters will be looking at this batch of flame-throwers in the late innings. Seriously, I don’t think any of these cats throws less than low-90’s. Cordier himself is known to touch 99, but he may end up in Fresno. I can see Hall and Osich sharing the closer spot, and I haven’t heard much on Bandilla’s injury status, but this is a group to get your mouth watering. Even if only half these guys end up here, Richmond fans should have a lot to look forward to this year.

San Jose

LR: Jorge Bucardo

MR: Mason McVay

MR: Ian Gardeck

MR: Steven Okert

MR: Tyler Mizenko

SU: Stephen Johnson

CL: Daniel Slania

The San Jose “Dog Pound” bullpen was as good as any relief corps in MiLB last year, but this group could be pretty dang impressive in 2014. Okert and McVay can be pretty dirty from the left side, while the righties Gardeck, Mizenko, Johnson and Slania will bring some serious heat. Actually, Bucardo is the only arm from this list who didn’t make my top 50 rankings. OK… so maybe I overvalue relievers a tad. Regardless, this should be
a very tough group, backing up another potentially stout rotation. See a pattern forming here?

Augusta

LR: Matt Lujan

MR: Tyler Rogers

MR: Steven Neff

MR: Raymundo Montero

MR: Cameron McVey

SU: Christian Jones

CL: Eduardo Encinosa

You could probably find seven other worthy candidates here. Jake Shadle, Jake Smith, and Brandon Farley all had strong seasons, but I just don’t see room for them in full-season ball. Maybe if the organization decides to hold the 2013 draft picks Jones and Rogers out until short-season play begins, but I just have a hard time seeing that. Rogers has already pitched in San Jose, and both of these guys were much higher picks than some of the others. I’d think they take priority. McVey and Encinosa are guys who should be ready to make an impact, while Montero had a major breakout season in Salem-Keizer. I really like the lefty Matt Lujan, and I’ll give him a long-man spot. I think he could also find his way into the rotation again.

Overall, pretty good looking group of arms. Lots of heat in there, and that’s something the Giant shave been lacking at the major league level since Brian Wilson left. Maybe Heath Hembree will help get that ball rolling. We’ll run one more of these posts to compile the entire roster for each full-season club, with a brief overview of each. At that point, I’ll start digging into some spring training roster battle pieces. We’re under a month until Cactus League play, folks. And I…Cant…Wait…Much…Longer!

(Don Davis/Fresno Grizzlies)

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