The Orioles announced that they have acquired RHP Brad Brach from the San Diego Padres for RHP Devin Jones. Brach, 27, has spent parts of the past three seasons in the Padres Bullpen. The Padres, dealing with a 40-man roster crunch, decided to designate Brach for assignment the other day. The Orioles called and offered Jones, and here we are. While this is surely not propelling the Orioles into contention for the division, it is a win-now move in some aspects.
Brach has three years of major league experience. Some would argue that they are three “average” years of major league experience after looking at his peripherals. Well, they are – but he is a middle reliever. That is what should probably be expected of a middle reliever. In three seasons with the MLB club, Brach has posted the following numbers:
The numbers look solid from a quick glance, and then the peripherals start to kick in. Depending on what site is used, his 2012 season was a 0.3 WAR or -0.7 fWAR. Obviously, that is a big difference in terms of value. Either way, Brach seems to be a player that can absorb a lot of innings for a team and provide some solid depth for a team that desperately needed it in 2013.
Brach definitely has a reliever arsenal – consisting of a fastball, slider and a splitter/forkball (whatever you want to call it, although it should be noted that Dan Duquette called it a forkball). The fastball sits around 90-93 and can touch 94 mph, although it is fairly straight. The slider sits around 84-86 mph and has fringe to fringe-average movement. The forkball sits around 84-86 mph and is probably he best secondary pitch. He racks up strikeouts and misses a lot of bats (25.5 K%) but his command can waver. His delivery is a little funky and there is definitely some effort in it. However, it works for him and that is all that matters. Brach is an odd pitcher with some interesting stuff going on in his arsenal, delivery and numbers. His MLB debut was pretty cool though, as he struck out the side.
I think he can provide some value for the Orioles heading into 2014, even if it is not particularly noticed on the stat sheet. Depth in the bullpen is a must for any team that wants to pitch late into the season, especially if that team does not have their starting rotation set. Have another look at the new O’s reliever from this season:
The first time I saw Devin Jones pitch, he was in the bullpen and looked to be a decent middle reliever. He mainly flashed a dipping two-seamer and a good slider to go along with it. It was your prototypical reliever arsenal and it was certainly working for him at Delmarva in 2012. There were times that he was unhittable out of the bullpen – or giving up ground balls that were pounded into the dirt in front of home plate. He was moved to Frederick and began starting presumably out of nowhere (at least to those outside of the organization). I originally scoffed at the idea, but Jones proved me wrong. Here is my updated scouting report on the Mississippi State pitcher:
Athletic with good pitcher’s frame. Stuff is above-average all around but it might be limited to the fastball and slider combo, which will make him strictly a reliever. He still has room to add weight, which could lead to significant improvements.
FB: 88-92 and touches 93 as a starter. Late life with some downward sink and some late tailing action. When kept low, induces a ton of ground balls. Could hit 94-95 in relief.
CH: 81-85 with average fade. Inconsistent pitch lagging behind fastball and slider, but shows promise at times.
SL: 79-86 with good bite and some late sweep. Good pitch with MLB potential.
While I still believe he ends up in a bullpen (as most pitchers do), he has progressed so much in the past two years. It has been fun watching Jones refine his arsenal, especially the change up. It was essentially nonexistent in 2011-2012, and it was at least present at Bowie. Mind you, Jones still has growth left, so I think it is important to consider his 2013 struggles at Bowie a simple road block. It was his first year starting fully at the professional level. Heck, I probably could not even start in my travel league still after years and years of play. I think he will continue to grow and could possibly see some time in a MLB bullpen at some point. I have no clue whether the Padres keep him in the rotation, but he is a relief pitcher all the way for me.
The Orioles and Padres essentially swapped two pitchers with similar attributes, but at different paths in their career. Devin Jones could very well end up the same type of pitcher that Brad Brach is, but he is a few years away from that. The Orioles traded for a player that can help them now, while giving up a minor piece of the future. Both players most likely are not impact types in the grand scheme of it, but they could be decent pieces to the puzzle if played correctly. I think this is a good move for both sides, and it is tough to say much else besides that.