It’s time to take Lake Elsinore closer Brad Brach seriously.
Nobody really does right now.
He was a 42nd round pick as a college senior in 2008—that won’t get you much press in the scouting world.
An effective starter for four years at Monmouth, Brach was placed in the Rookie League bullpen after signing, and dominated as the closer, with a 33/5 K/BB ratio in 22 1/3 innings. He posted a 2.01 ERA and 1.19 FIP.
Most 42nd rounders that sign don’t make it to the next season, but Brach’s showing allowed him to spend last year in Fort Wayne at age 23. He posted a ridiculous 82/11 K/BB ratio in 63 2/3 innings, allowed just 36 hits and one homer, and posted a 1.27 ERA and 1.54 FIP.
You can chalk that success up to Brach being an experienced college pitcher older than his Rookie and Low-A peers and in a pitcher-friendly environment in Fort Wayne.
Now, though, that excuse is gone.
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Sure, Brach is 24, which is old for the Cal League, but he’s got a 2.00 ERA and 20/3 K/BB ratio in 18 innings there. He’s still dominating.
You might think that Brach’s low draft profile (and low minor league profile) mean he’s some sort of trick pitcher who throws in the mid-80’s, but that’s not the case.
Brach throws a fastball in the 90-93 mph range. He has an average splitter that he’s added since being drafted, and he uses it as a two-strike chase pitch, a la Dan Haren. Brach also has a solid slider that he can throw for strikes.
He’s an imposing 6’6” pitcher who uses a fairly high arm slot, releasing the ball at Chris Young-esque downward angles. Like Young, Brach is a flyball pitcher, but has only allowed three homers in his minor league career, so it hasn’t been an issue. Furthermore, San Diego can work for flyball pitchers (just ask Young or Ed Mujica).
Brach is still, of course, a 24-year-old in High-A, so he’s got some ground to cover before he’s at the doorstep of the major leagues. But right now, nothing’s happened to him that suggests he won’t get there someday.