by Ben Davey

The last and final part of the Portland Beavers is the bullpen. Now in every other league, I have lumped the relievers as part of the pitching, and often just given the names of the 3 headed monster likely to take on the 7-9 duties. Well the same cannot be said for Portland because 1) there are about 10 players deserving of 7 spots, 2) half of these players already have MLB experience, and 3) the closer from last year returns, the closer from AA is promoted, and the person with the best overall stuff is a 3rd candidate to close. Frankly I don’t think the Padres even know who will be their AAA closer, rotation, and pen yet. But hey, maybe my prediction and preview will help sway the masses of front office execs that read this blog.

To begin, the San Diego Padres made things a little bit clearer on Tuesday when they released Jonathan Ellis. Ellis went 7-3, 4.12 ERA, in 51 G (15 starts) for the Beavers last year. I don’t think this was a move made because the Padres didn’t think he would ever amount to anything, but rather he just wasnt as “good” (use that term loosely) as the other candidates

Locks:

1) Luis Perdomo (25, RHP)- Perdomo was a rule V pick up last year by the Giants who was then claimed off waivers by the Padres. Thus he had to spend the entire year with the Padres or go back to St Louis. Well, Perdomo was Black’s emergency long reliever for most of the year, and at times he showed that he has the potential to be a great reliever. Other times he walked the park. He has a bigtime fastball with movement and an above average slider, both potentially MLB+ pitches. Now that Perdomo can spend a year in AAA he needs to work on finding home plate (5.1 BB/9) and avoid leaving a fastball up in the zone (11 HR a bit high for a reliever). He is definitely a lock for the pen

2) Ryan Webb (24, RHP)- Another reliever who spent time with the Padres last year. Actually he has a chance to win a spot with the Padres right now, but he just gave up 6 ER in 1.1 IP while Russel has pitched really well this spring. Thus Russel to SD, Webb to Portland. Webb is another in a long line of big tall, Padres pitchers. He has a good fastball that can touch in the mid 90s, a good sinker, and definitely an improving game overall. Webb was a starter until this past year, so the big thing for him might just be consistency. He has the stuff, he has the ability, lets just see if he can replicate it

3) Mark Worrel (27, RHP)- Worrell has a career 2.95 ERA across 5 minor league seasons collecting 84 saves during that span. Last year he was primed to be one of the major contributors to the Padres pen…and than the injury. After missing all of 2009 it is slightly crazy that he is even back this early. Someone described Worrell to me as “Cla Meredith but with more velocity.” And that might very well be true. Worrell has the sidearm style throw…which made me not surprised that he got injured, but also means he can be a great contributor. Worrell relies on a curveball, changeup and slider to set up batters for his fastball, which he throws from 92-94 mph. He also has the talent, and has proven it in AAA but for him its about getting healthy and showing the front office as much

4) Evan Scribner (24, RHP)- Speaking of funky deliveries here is another in AA closer Evan Scribner. After an amazing 2008 campaign where he posted a 2.00 ERA, 48 G, 67 IP, 93 K, he posted a solid but not quite as good season as the Missions closer. He went 8-4, 3.07 ERA, 21 SV, 9.9 K/9. 77/20 K/BB ratio. The biggest thing with Scribner was that he would be absolutely dominating for 2 weeks straight, but then abruptly he would lose feel for the curve and hitters would sit on the fastball. It took everything he had to not get pounded. At one point he lost the closers role to Gomes/DeMark. Scribner’s best pitch is the hammer, and the sinking fastball yields a lot of groud balls and frustrated hitters. Scribner could easily find himself closing games…or somewhere in middle relief

Probables

1) Greg Burke (27, RHP) Yes, I dont have a player that ha pretty good success for the Padres last year, and was the Beavers closer when he was down there last year, as a lock. But there are a couple things working against him 1) The injury.  He might not be ready to start the season with the team 2) Padres DFA’d him during the offseason.  Yes he signed back with the club but that has to be a slap in the face to be taken off the 40 man like that. 3) Ceiling. 1 and 2 might also sound like Worrell but Burke doesnt have nearly the ceiling of Worrell. He is mainly a finesse pitcher, can have some success, but probably wont factor much in the Padres future

2) Brandon Gomes (25, RHP)- Another power arm, Gomes went 4-1, 2.62 ERA with the Missions last year. Even more impressive was the 12.5 K/9 (100 K in 72 IP, compared to only 28 BB). Gomes can throw the ball in the mid 90′s, has an above average splitter, and his slider is a potentially lethal pitch mainly because its not the other two. Gomes has closer mentality, but also can come on with runners on and put out the fire. Gomes is your guy and it would be tough to not see him in Portland

3) Mike DeMark (26, RHP)- The 3rd of the 3 headed monster is DeMark. DeMark has a closer mentality, not afraid to pitch inside, has good life to his fastball, and has an above average slider. However, much in the same mold of Perdomo and Webb, the walks are what is going to bite DeMark in the ass. His 5.1 BB/9 last year was something they thought they had cured after he posted a 2.9 mark in 08. If he can cut down on his walks DeMark is potentially lethal with his big slider and FB.

Well there you go, 7 pitchers for 7 positions done deal right? Oh wait, I forgot about the starters who dont make the rotation. What about Culp, Buschmann, Frieri, and Ramos? Well my fearless predictions lead me to venture and guess that you will see a staff of

Cl” Brandon Gomes, 8th: Worrell 7th: Webb Scribner and Perdomo will also see time in the final 3 innings. Ernesto Frieri will be the long reliever and spot starter when and if anyone gets hurt (he could also potentially close) and Ramos will be a huge value as the only lefty in the pen. DeMark will at least begin the year in SA, Culp will be moved to SA pen. Buschmann and Burke will probably be released. I cant seem to tell if De La Cruz is with the Padres or not, but if he is….well I will just throw him to the AA sharks or traded.

Huge sigh of relief. The previewing is over for another year. Now only sleepers left then its time to head out to Lake Elsinore to catch some beautiful minor league baseball. Also we will continue our “On the road with madfriars” segments as we will “sit down” with John who is traveling to Peoria and will give us the new info on Forsythe, Tate, injuries, and placements galore. Happy commenting, enjoy.

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