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Three for the Show: Relief Pitching 

Kevin Quackenbush

Kevin Quackenbush

In the immortal words of Huey Lewis: This is it! The tenth and final piece in the series is here. Whew! I have concluded my identification of the top three players at each position in the Padres’ minor league system. Up last: Relief Pitching.

Same general disclaimer as the last piece on pitching applies here. The system is rife with talent on the mound, so I’ve chosen a few that stand out to me as arms that could find their way into the bullpen in the very near future.

Brad Boxberger appeared in 37 games for Tucson last season, and all he managed to do was allow 37 hits and strike out nearly 13 hitters per nine innings. He’s already appeared in 24 big league innings, but there’s likely much more to come this season. He was recently optioned to AAA Tucson, but there’s a good chance he’s recalled soon. He features a big league fastball that reaches 95 mph and uses a solid curveball to keep hitters honest. He also decreased his BB/9 from 4.9 to 3.9. If he can maintain that command, the role of closer could be in his near future.

Kevin Quackenbush is another player to keep an eye on this summer. He saved 27 games in Lake Elsinore last season, striking out an impressive 10.9 batters per nine innings. He features a mid-90’s fastball that has some good deception along with it. If he can develop his slider and improve his control (jumped to 3.4 BB/9 from 2.5 a season ago), he will be a fast riser in the system. In 99.2 innings, he’s allowed a whopping ONE homerun. Stay tuned.

Finally, I’m a fan of Jeremy McBryde. In 486.2 minor league innings, McBryde strikes out nearly 10 players per nine innings. Equally impressive is the command, as he’s averaged 2.3 walks per nine over his career. In San Antonio last season, McBryde pitched in 49 games and only surrendered 44 hits and 28 runs (21 earned). He struck out 65 batters. Granted, there are lots of arms up for consideration in the bullpen right now, but McBryde took an excellent step forward last season against stronger lineups than he’s faced in his career.

I could go on, but 10 articles is probably plenty. Overall, question marks remain from the position player standpoint; whereas, the talent pool on the mound is excellently deep. Obviously, this plays well for the future in Petco National Park (even with the fence adjustment), but the team has to find a way to create a dynamic lineup as well. Here’s to hoping for a healthy and productive season for the minor league system.

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About the author: Chris Kelly

Husband, father, teacher, and proud member of the Friar Faithful.