I am one of the first to admit that reliever prospects get pushed down prospect lists and they are often overlooked if they do not have closer potential. This is for many good reasons related to potential major league value, but it does leave a gap in our coverage. So to close that gap some here are three relievers who have the chance to be impactful in the majors:
Colton Murray – RHP – Reading
Murray was the Phillies 13th round pick in 2011 out of the University of Kansas. Murray posted a 5.02 ERA in the FSL in 2013 despite 27 BBs 75 Ks and 6 HRs in 66.1 IP. This year the numbers have rebounded, and after a good start in Clearwater he was promoted to Reading, where his success has continued (2.41 ERA 52.1 IP 20 BB 56 K). Evaluators are starting to take notice with Jason Park’s earlier report and this recent look:
Murray does not profile as a closer, but he has the stuff to be a very useful reliever in the majors. His ceiling is a 7th/8th inning guy, but if he can be a middle reliever who can go multiple innings that is very valuable.
Ethan Stewart – LHP – Clearwater
Stewart showed in pro-ball with some promise as a big projectable LHP. After the 2011 season Baseball America had this to say:
His fastball velocity fluctuates from start to start, sitting anywhere from 86-94 mph, but he mostly operates at 89-91 with sink and tail. His curveball has tight, downward rotation and grades as an average pitch. His changeup is a work in progress, and he’s also developing a cutter.
Since then his command has been a problem and his delivery has caused his raw stuff to come and go, and 2014 was no exception as he stalled in Clearwater. The Phillies moved him to the bullpen recently and the change has been dramatic.
Starter: 79.2 IP 53 BB 42 K
Reliever: 19.1 IP 5 BB 22 K
It is still small sample size, but the results point to a potential plan for Stewart going forward. His diverse arsenal should keep him from having platoon splits and increase his potential.
Manny Martinez – RHP – Williamsport
Manny Martinez is making his third trip to Williamsport, but it finally looks like the side arm delivery has stuck and he is making meaningful improvements. His fastball now sits 94-96 touching 97. In June, Martinez gave up 5 ER, walked 6 batters while striking out 4 over 5.1 IP. Over July and August he has walked 5 batters and struck out 18 in 15.2 innings while only allowing 2 earned runs. Martinez has gained praise from scouts and evaluators. Martinez is 22 and in short season ball, but when it comes to pitching, raw stuff matters more than age. Next year Martinez could start in Lakewood and still be a in a position to arrive in the high minors by the end of the year.