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Diamondbacks Farm System Review: Relief pitchers

Any future ex-closers down on the farm?

Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers
J.B. Bukauskas walks back to the dugout during a game
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

I’m proud of you making it all the way to relief pitching! You’ve read a lot of words about Diamondbacks prospects from a rando fan. Dedication right there!

This week we will look at relief pitchers! SIRP means Single Inning Relief Pitcher and MIRP means Multiple Inning Relief Pitcher. The designations are borrowed directly from Fangraphs. Be angry at them. As we all know, relief pitching is a crapshoot. There’s varying levels of talent here, but I don’t know if there’s a relief ace in this list of 9 names or just a bunch of guys who pop up in Diamondbacks uniforms over the next decade.

Once again, I need to say that all my predictions are based on Mike Hazen still being GM in 2025. I am a believer in his methods and I hope Kendrick shows more patience in his twilight years than he has in the past.

Without further ado:

Bobby Ay (24) – SIRP

  • ERA 5.04
  • PITCHES PER IP 17.55
  • WHIP 1.50
  • Ks 52
  • BBs 34
  • INNINGS PITCHED 44.2
  • Top 100 Lists: N/A

Bio/2021 Recap: Bobby Ay was an older guy pitching in Low/High A in 2021… That’s not a great combo right there. He struggled and hasn’t even hit players his age in ballparks so high the ball truly flies.

What does 2022 have in store? Ay will probably start back in High A and the team will likely want to see what he has in him for AA. 2022 is probably a make or break year for the former 9th Round pick (2019). He may get a little more leeway because of 2020, but the leash is pretty short I imagine. PLAYING IN 2022: Upper Levels of the Minors with an emphasis on AA.

What role playing in 2024/2025? I do not believe in Bobby Ay. He just hasn’t managed to find success in pro ball. If he is still playing in 2024/2025, I will be fairly shocked. PREDICTION: Bobby Ay will be cheering the Roaring 20s Baby Backs’ Opponents 162 times a year… Bust – Sorry my man.

Jake Rice (24) – SIRP

  • ERA 3.12
  • PITCHES PER IP 13.90
  • WHIP 1.04
  • Ks 21
  • BBs 4
  • INNINGS PITCHED 17.1
  • Top 100 Lists: N/A

Bio/2021 Recap: Rice was drafted in 2021 and went straight to Low A with a late season promotion to High A. As you can see, he did fairly well, but he was an advanced college arm playing against younger, less developed bats. I would like to see some success in the higher levels before I get too excited, but the base is there. As a reliever already, he could rise quickly.

What does 2022 have in store? Given that he only got 3 innings at High A, he’s going to begin the season there. But a relatively quick promotion to AA seems likely if he finds any success. The team needs to see how his stuff does in hitter friendly confines and he’s an older guy already. Reno is possible I suppose, but it’d be a really late season taste. PLAYING IN 2022: Upper Levels of the Minors with an emphasis on AA.

What role playing in 2024/2025? If all goes well, he will have established himself as a bullpen arm by 2023. Even if he gets a speed bump or two, he should be a cheap, relatively solid option to handle some innings by 2024/2025. PREDICTION: Roaring 20s Baby Backs’ bullpen guy (think normal bullpen guy).

J.B. Bukauskas (25) – SIRP

  • ERA 7.79
  • PITCHES PER IP 16.50
  • WHIP 1.79
  • Ks 14
  • BBs 8
  • INNINGS PITCHED 17.1
  • Top 100 Lists: N/A

Bio/2021 Recap: Bukauskas was a guy I wanted to get in the draft in 2017. I’m glad we didn’t choose him now. 2021 was a rough year for him in a pretty small sample size. But expectations were high after his Spring. I don’t know if Hazen & Co. knew something back then or if pushing him back down was a factor in the issues, but either way he looks ill-prepared for the MLB.

What does 2022 have in store? JBB is very much going to be in play for an Opening Day spot in the bullpen. If he has another amazing Spring, he’ll earn that spot. If he pitches like he did during 2021, it’ll be telling to see what they do (how ok with punting the year is the team?). PLAYING IN 2022: MLB Opening Day Roster – exhaust his prospect status in the bullpen.

What role playing in 2024/2025? JBB has the talent to be the closer on the next DBacks’ contender. I believe in him. PREDICTION: Roaring 20s Baby Backs’ high leverage reliever (think traditional setup guy)

Jhosmer Alvarez (20) – SIRP

  • ERA 0.00
  • PITCHES PER IP 12.10
  • WHIP .90
  • Ks 18
  • BBs 5
  • INNINGS PITCHED 10.0
  • Top 100 Lists: N/A

Bio/2021 Recap: Holy youth here. Alvarez is so young and only barely saw Low A in 2021. Ten total innings isn’t really enough to talk about though. He didn’t allow a run though, so woo hoo!

What does 2022 have in store? He’s going to start back in Low A at the highest. He’s likely to play most of the season there with a cameo in High A by the end of the year. PLAYING IN 2022: No shot at MLB time – Low A Ball.

What role playing in 2024/2025? Alvarez is so young, I don’t see him making the MLB by 2025. Hopefully he’s a relatively high end piece by then (I’m thinking 15-20 since he’s a reliever). PREDICTION: Upper Minors (AAA)

Keegan Curtis (26) – SIRP

  • ERA 4.28
  • PITCHES PER IP 18.48
  • WHIP 1.46
  • Ks 35
  • BBs 12
  • INNINGS PITCHED 27.1
  • Top 100 Lists: N/A

Bio/2021 Recap: Curtis was the return for Tim Locastro in 2021. For some reason he did not play much in 2021 and I don’t know why. Overall he did ok, but when he hit Reno it got really bad. Amarillo wasn’t exactly a cakewalk for him either though.

What does 2022 have in store? Curtis could play for an MLB bullpen spot in Spring, but I don’t see him winning one. He needs some time to prove himself. But he could be there before September if he proves himself. PLAYING IN 2022: Upper Minors – 50/50 odds of MLB time.

What role playing in 2024/2025? I don’t see a spot for Curtis on future Diamondbacks’ teams. He’s already 26 and lackluster. PREDICTION: I’m going to go ahead and give Curtis the dreaded bust label. I just don’t see enough upside/talent right now. I hope I’m wrong and he becomes a trusted mid/late inning arm.

Luis Frias (23) – SIRP

  • ERA 4.93
  • PITCHES PER IP 17.37
  • WHIP 1.26
  • Ks 126
  • BBs 45
  • INNINGS PITCHED 111.1
  • Top 100 Lists: N/A

Bio/2021 Recap: We’ve been aware of Frias for a while now. Mostly as a starter, but more recently as a reliever. He did ok across three levels in 2021 going from High A to AAA. That doesn’t even count his tiny amount of MLB action, which was ok if a little scary. He wasn’t quite ready.

What does 2022 have in store? Frias should start in AAA. He only has 21.2 innings there and ran into issues in The Show. But he will be up in Arizona for the majority of the year I believe. PLAYING IN 2022: MLB – Exhausts his prospect status in the bullpen.

What role playing in 2024/2025? By the time 2025 rolls around, Frias could be anything. There’s a chance he’s allowed to become a swingman starter a la Delgado, or he could be a relief ace (although I deem that unlikely). PREDICTION: Roaring 20s Baby Backs’ Relief option (regular relief guy)

Mitchell Stumpo (25) – SIRP

  • ERA 2.63
  • PITCHES PER IP 14.92
  • WHIP .97
  • Ks 66
  • BBs 13
  • INNINGS PITCHED 51.1
  • Top 100 Lists: N/A

Bio/2021 Recap: Mitchell Stumpo has one of the best stories in baseball right now. He comes from the independent leagues and saw FOUR levels this season (Low A all the way up to AAA). Not to mention the Arizona Fall League. He’s impressive to say the least. If he can find success in the MLB (and all indications say he can), he will be the new Peralta story-wise. It will be talked about at every turn, and I for one, will never tire of hearing it. It’s every adult baseball fans’ dream.

What does 2022 have in store? Stumpo is likely to vie for a bullpen spot on the Opening day roster. Personally, I believe in both him and the absolute dearth of other options we have currently, meaning he makes it. PLAYING IN 2022: MLB Opening Day Roster – Exhausts his prospect status in the MLB Bullpen.

What role playing in 2024/2025? Stumpo doesn’t necessarily have the stuff of a typical closer. But I think he could surprise us. Barring a failed starter who becomes a true relief ace, Stumpo probably has the leg up to be the closer of the future. He’s ready for MLB time already, and can use the next few seasons to make adjustments and come into his future, plus a pitcher’s peak is around 28-31 years old, lining up well for him. PREDICTION: Roaring 20s Baby Backs’ Closer (think normal closer use, but different skill set)

Ryan Weiss (25) – MIRP

  • ERA 4.60
  • PITCHES PER IP 16.86
  • WHIP 1.23
  • Ks 88
  • BBs 31
  • INNINGS PITCHED 78.1
  • Top 100 Lists: N/A

Bio/2021 Recap: Weiss pitched in AA & AAA in 2021. It was fine. It was totally fine considering they are hitter friendly and he’s a reliever. However he’s relatively old at this point playing some younger guys (albeit not a whole lot younger). That doesn’t help his case.

What does 2022 have in store? Weiss will be in play for the Opening Day 2022 bullpen. I don’t think he quite makes it though. He will pitch in the Bigs by the end of the year though. PLAYING IN 2022: Upper Levels of the Minors – Small/Medium chance at MLB cup of coffee

What role playing in 2024/2025? I don’t see Weiss pitching for the DBacks’ by 2024 unless he learns to pitch much better in hitter ballparks. But I can definitely see him pitching the Majors. PREDICTION: Regular bullpen arm for a fringe contender/rebuilding club.

Yaifer Perdomo (20) – SIRP

  • ERA 3.95
  • PITCHES PER IP 12.17
  • WHIP 1.24
  • Ks 72
  • BBs 22
  • INNINGS PITCHED 41.0
  • Top 100 Lists: N/A

Bio/2021 Recap: This is not the Perdomo you’re looking for. No offense to Yaifer, I just try never to pass up a Star Wars reference where possible. He came over for Soria I believe at the trade deadline in 2021. Unfortunately for YPerdomo, his debut in out system didn’t go well. But it was mercifully short. He had a lot of success in Rookie Ball. And he’s still young.

What does 2022 have in store? YPerdomo will not see a sniff of MLB action in 2022. But a start in Low A with a possible stint at High A at 20 years old is pretty nifty. All I need to see from Yaifer in 2022 to keep my excitement. PLAYING IN 2022: No shot at MLB time – Lower Minors.

What role playing in 2024/2025? Perdomo is really young currently. There’s a good chance he is still a prospect even in 2025. Good news for him, relievers can move through a system much faster than starters. I just don’t think that will happen here. PREDICTION: Upper Levels of the Minors (hopefully AAA)