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2019 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews: #16, Kevin Ginkel

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The former U of A Wildcat wasted no time making a great impression.

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

RATING: 6.65

AGE: 25

2019 STATS: 25 G, 24.1 IP, 1.48 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 3.98 xFIP, 304 ERA+, 0.7 bWAR, 10.4 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9

2019 SALARY: Minimum

2020 STATUS: Pre-arbitration (rookie status intact)


Introduction

The Diamondbacks drafted Ginkel in the 22nd round of the 2016 draft. It was Ginkel’s third time being drafted by a Major League team. However, he didn’t join the Diamondbacks immediately. He was still pitching for the University of Arizona as part of their championship runner-up team. The large right-hander was an integral part of that team, working both as a starter and a high-leverage reliever. Ginkel struggled through injuries in 2017. The combination of being a late-round draft pick the previous season and playing sporadically and with mixed results meant Ginkel dropped off of most people’s radar. Then Ginkel got healthy and rested. In 2018, right-hander made 54 appearances between the Diamondbacks High-A affiliate in Visalia and the Double-A Jackson Generals. He had 100 strikeouts in 69.1 innings of work while posting a 1.41 ERA and 0.83 WHIP.

That performance enticed the Diamondbacks to invite him to Spring Training for 2019. Having just-turned 25, Ginkel worked four innings for Arizona as a non-roster invitee, striking out four and not allowing a run. Ginkel returned to Jackson to open the season where he picked up where he left off in 2018. This earned him an early-season promotion to Triple-A Reno. Despite the inflated offensive environment of the PCL, Ginkel continued to thrive and eventually earned himself a call-up on August 5th.

2019 Review

Ginkel’s promotion did not come as early as many wished or hoped it would, nor did it start off smoothly. In two-thirds of an inning he allowed two hits and a run. In his next outing, he struck out the side, but he also allowed a walk, a hit and a run. Through his first ten games Ginkel was very hit-and-miss. Often as not he flashed the sort of dominant power pitching that brought him to the Majors with no small amount of fanfare and expectation. He also demonstrated the difficulties pitchers are presented with facing the best hitters in the world. Still, after 10 games, Ginkel had a solid pitching line and seemed to be settling in as a decent middle reliever with the stuff to possibly move to the back of the bullpen.

After those first 10 games were out of the way, Ginkel really settled in. After allowing four runs in those first 9 23 innings, Ginkel only allowed one run the entire rest of the season, spanning of 14 23 innings in 15 appearances. During this time he held hittes to a .170 batting average and a .241 OBP. He also continued to strike batters out while bringing his walk-rate down. This strong showing resulted in Torey Lovullo finally making Ginkel one of the team’s primary high-leverage relievers and eventually the set-up man to Archie Bradley as closer. As a late-inning reliever, Ginkel was presented the opportunity to earn a save on 16 September against the Miami Marlins.

Ginkel pitched in five more games down the stretch, picking up two holds, a win, and another save. On the whole, GInkel’s highly-anticipated debut was quite the success.

2020 Preview

Due to the late-season nature of his promotion, Ginkel will enter the 2020 season with his rookie status still intact. Barring injury or trade, Ginkel looks to be a lock for the 26-man roster coming out of spring. The only question seems to be what role he will fill. It seems likely he will begin the year in the role of set-up man, with Archie Bradley continuing on as closer. Given how long it took for the team to give Archie Bradley an extended look at closing games, it seems unlikely the team will be in any hurry to have Ginkel start accruing saves (and by extension, a higher arbitration salary). Still, if he continues to perform in 2020 the way he did in 2019, he will find saves on days where Bradley needs a rest or if the match-ups favor keeping Ginkel in. While the team has seen brilliant pitching debuts in the past that amounted to precious little, Ginkel currently gives the impression that he could be the team’s closer of the future.