San Diego Padres 2020 Bullpen: Best in Baseball

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 13: Kirby Yates #39 of the San Diego Padres reacts to striking out Freddie Freeman #5 of the Atlanta Braves during the ninth inning of a game at PETCO Park on July 13, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 13: Kirby Yates #39 of the San Diego Padres reacts to striking out Freddie Freeman #5 of the Atlanta Braves during the ninth inning of a game at PETCO Park on July 13, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Adrian Morejon #50 of the San Diego Padres. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Adrian Morejon #50 of the San Diego Padres. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

The youngsters

Andres Munoz– This hard throwing right hander is only 21 years old this month and has already closed a game for the Friars. His fastball/slider mix has been very effective in the minor leagues and earned him a mid year call up last season. His walk rate has improved while his slider has become more reliable. He needs experience and more maturity but could prove to be the replacement for Yates in the future.

Luis Perdomo– The former Rule V draftee in 2016 has bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. Now 26 years old, Perdomo hasn’t shown the consistency needed to be a starter but has been more reliable in the bullpen. His 4.00 ERA in 72 innings pitched with 1 start was his best performance of his major league career. To stick with this bullpen he will need to step up his game and improve his consistency.

Jose Castillo– The 6′ 5″ 246 lb, 23 year old had a terrible 2019. He missed the first 4 months of the season with a forearm strain and was just back from his rehab  when he tore a ligament in the middle finger of his pitching (left) hand and was lost for the remainder of the season. Before this terrible, awful year Castillo had some of the best numbers in minor league ball as a reliever. He impressed in his first, quick look in the major leagues and seemed to be a top bullpen prospect going into 2019. Let’s hope he can regain that dominance going into 2020.

Adrian Morejon– Signed for $11million out of Cuba in the great international signing bonanza of 2016, Morejon has made a steady climb up the Padres prospect lists. Brought up at the same time as Luis Urias last season, Morejon has had an up and down minor league experience with multiple injuries slowing him down. But at 20 years of age we can still dream on what this powerful lefty can accomplish. A mid to high 90’s fastball mixes with two change ups and a curve ball that profile as a front of the rotation starter if he can stay healthy. If not, he can be a dominant bullpen piece. It’s possible he could be the swing man for the bullpen this season. Or begin his year as a starting candidate in the minors.

Michel Baez– At 6’8″ and 220 lb this 23 year old Cuban possesses overwhelming strikeout stuff but was unable to sustain his command as a starter. His move to the bullpen last year after battling shoulder and back injuries gave him a 3.03 ERA in 29.2 innings with the Padres. A recently written review by Jeff Sanders in the San Diego Union Tribune (subscription required) sites the organizations intention of returning Baez to the starting rotation. If that is the case, he will most likely start the season in the minors.

David BednarDrafted in the 35th round of the 2016 draft, Bednar played with Lake Elsinore in 2017. His teammate was Chris Paddack and it seems Bednar wants to stay with his minor league buddy. With his high 90’s fastball, quality curveball and a splitter in the works, Bednar pitched 11 innings in his September call up in 2019. His 6.25 ERA might not be impressive but his work with runners on base was the issue. I expect him to get a good look this spring.

Javy Guerra– The converted shortstop made short work of his minor league pitching career. After switching to pitching full time in 2019, Guerra climbed from Lake Elsinore to Amarillo with a 3.38 ERA and 30 strikeouts to 10 walks in 21.1 IP. The Padres called him up in September and he threw 8.2 innings with 6 strikeouts. His rapid rise after giving up on position play is attributable to a 96-98 MPH fastball that he throws for strikes and can reach100 MPH. His biting slider that he can also throw for strikes is a plus weapon. His failure as a hitter was the reason for the conversion and his defensive skills make him a high quality back up at shortstop if he makes the team. He is out of options.

Gerardo Reyes– Another high velocity right hander with an effective slider, Reyes has an issue with being hit hard when he gets hit. He got his first taste of major league ball last season with a 7.62 ERA in 26 innings pitched and 27 games. At 26 years old he is older than the rest of the young studs and needs to step up his effectiveness to prove his worth.

Pierce Johnson– After spending the 2019 season pitching in Japan, Johnson signed a two year free agent contract with the Padres and should help with the veteran presence on a young pitching staff. His last major league season was 2018 with the San Francisco Giants where he had 5.56 ERA in 37 games and 44.2 innings pitched. There have been recent examples of pitchers upping their game while pitching in Japan so let’s hope this is the case with Johnson.

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