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Diamondbacks Minor Leagues in Review: Missoula Relief Pitchers

There's not going to be much to get too excited about with this group. But Missoula did feature a couple of relievers who should make it into some higher levels, But it's highly unlikely there's anyone here who is a real threat to go all the way. But I guess you should never say never.

The back end of the Missoula bullpen did perform admirably down the stretch to get into the playoffs and then to win the championship. So they did have some competent guys. But the pitching staff overall was really not all that special and it was almost somewhat of a surprise to me that they won the Pioneer League Championship. But we'll take a look at this group in any case and see who might man the spots just above rookie ball next year.

RHP Justin Thompson, 22
32 IP, 1.69 ERA, 47 K, 10 BB, 8 Saves
Acquired: 2012 Undrafted Free Agent
Thompson was signed just after the 2012 draft when he wasn't selected after spending the previous season as the closer for the University of Virginia. If there's anyone in the Missoula pen who has a chance to do something it's Thompson. He closed out game after pressurized game down the stretch and struck out 47 in 32 innings. I don't know much about his repertoire of pitches but the results speak for themselves. He was a catcher to begin his college career before they converted him into a closer, and he's clearly adapted well to the change. Thompson does have a chance to keep pushing upwards if he keeps pitching like he did this year.
2013 Projection: High A Visalia
Ceiling: AAA

RHP Chase Stevens, 22
33 IP, 3.21 ERA, 59 K, 17 BB
Acquired: 2012 Draft - 30th Round
Stevens was drafted out of Oklahoma State and had a very solid year for Missoula. His strikeout rate was phenomenal with 59 Ks in 33 innings and he held batters to a .189 BA. He was another piece in the reliable back end of the Osprey bullpen and he certainly earned a promotion to show what he can do at the next level. The knock on Stevens is he's on the small side at 5-10, and short right handers always have to overcome that prejudice. But Stevens has some ability so he's worth watching.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: AAA

RHP Chris Capper, 21
43 IP, 3.77 ERA, 44 K, 14 BB
Acquired: 2012 Draft - 26th Round
Drafted out of BYU Capper was another reliable arm in the productive Missoula bullpen. He threw more innings than any other reliever and the major knock on him was his propensity to surrender home runs. But he averaged a strikeout per inning even though the rest of his peripherals were only slightly above average. He probably did enough to earn a chance at another level but it remains to be seen if there will be room for him.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: High A

RHP Vince Spilker, 22
20 IP, 3.92 ERA, 26 K, 8 BB
Acquired: 2012 Draft - 25th Round
Spilker got a little bit of a late start on the season but he was one of the more reliable arms in the bullpen down the stretch. He posted a nice K/BB rate and held batters to a .227 BA. Missoula had a bevy of college arms that really performed for Missoula. The question is if any of them can break out and become more than organizational depth. Spilker looks like organizational depth at the moment.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: High A

RHP Patrick Smith, 22
43 IP, 5.36 ERA, 47 K, 18 BB
Acquired: 2012 Undrafted Free Agent
Smith was another college arm that didn't get drafted and the Dbacks signed him and sent him to Missoula. He threw a lot of innings but he didn't have very good results. His season wasn't a total disaster but he probably didn't do enough to earn a promotion. He posted a decent strikeout rate but that's really about it.
2013 Projection: Rookie Missoula
Ceiling: Low A

RHP Dexter Price, 22
39 IP, 5.31 ERA, 28 K, 17 BB
Acquired: 2011 Draft - 30th Round
Price pitched for Missoula in 2011 mostly as a starter. This year they tried him in the bullpen and the results weren't any better. I'm sure the team loves his size at 6-7 but he's not making any progress. He'll be lucky to be given a full-time job in 2013. He'll probably start out in extended ST and if he shows some signs of improvement mayve they'll give him another chance.
2013 Projection: Released
Ceiling: None

RHP Michael Rivera, 22
31 IP, 5.81 ERA, 37 K, 13 BB
Acquired: 2012 Undrafted Free Agent
Rivera pitched a little better than the results show. He had a nice K rate and held batters to a .219 BA. But a couple of rough outings ruined his season numbers. As an undrafted FA not much was expected of him but he did enough to at least be given another chance at the same level. He'll need to do more to get out of Missoula.
2013 Projection: Rookie Missoula
Ceiling: Low A

LHP Michael Blake, 22
24 IP, 6.00 ERA, 37 K, 22 BB
Acquired: 2011 Draft - 16th Round
Blake pitched last year for Yakima where he didn't do all that well, and was demoted to Missoula for 2012 and didn't do very well there either. He knows how to pile up the strikeouts but his control just hasn't improved so he'll be lucky to have a job next year. He is left-handed though and lefties always get extra chances so we'll see.
2013 Projection: Rookie Missoula
Ceiling: Rookie