Posted April 2, 2014 05:02 pm

GreenJackets preview briefs: Pitchers

Part two of the 2014 Augusta GreenJackets player briefs belongs to pitchers. Last year's staff had an impressive run, especially in the bullpen, so repeating their numbers will be a tough test for the new group. But this year's staff appears solid.


Carlos Alvarado - Despite being 24 years old now, Alvarado didn't make his stateside debut until 2013. He consistently produces very good peripherals, but full-season ball will tell how true they are. He's a tall, lanky right-hander from Venezuela.


Raymond Black - Connor Penfold wrote an excellent article on Black at Giant Potential. Black is overcoming labrum surgery after Tommy John surgery and hasn't thrown a professional pitch despite getting drafted in the seventh round in 2011 out of Pittsburgh. The 23-year-old's first pitch in Augusta will be monumental for Black after what he has dealt with. He throws hard out of the bullpen, touching 100 this spring.


Luis Castillo - Castillo cut down his walk rate considerably in his second stint in the Dominican Summer League last year, and he's making his stateside debut by skipping two leagues and going to Augusta. The likely reason for the jump is the fact that he can throw high-90s with control. If the 21-year-old maintains good control with extreme velo, he will move quickly.


Carlos Diaz - Diaz is a 20-year-old left-hander, so he'll get his share of strikeouts in the lower levels no matter what. He had some solid numbers in the Dominican league, but his ERA took a step backward in Arizona last year. He should get some starts in Augusta.


Chase Johnson - Johnson was drafted in the third round in 2013 out of Cal Poly, where he was used as a reliever. The Giants are putting him in the rotation and see him as a long-term starter, so full-season ball will be a test for him stamina-wise. Johnson has a hard fastball in the mid-90s but can sit low-90s with ease, and he has the feel for two secondary pitches. He has the body to log innings, but his mechanics are a bit stiff, and he needs the changeup and curveball to develop to get through a lineup multiple times. Johnson will lead the Augusta rotation and start the season opener.


Christian Jones - Jones is a big left-hander drafted in the 13th round out of Oregon. He's a polished lefty who should move quickly despite his draft placement and prospect stock. The Giants could have a value pick out of Jones, who has already had Tommy John surgery.


Keury Mella - Mella was the highest-ranked GreenJacket in the Giants top 10 by Baseball Prospectus at seventh, while Baseball America ranked him 13th. Baseball Prospectus might be trying to get ahead, because Mella shows tons of potential. The 20-year-old pumps mid-90s heat with sink and flashes a plus curveball. He also turns over the occasional changeup that should become average. Mella is said to have a strong personality and wants the ball in big spots, and reports rave about his future projection. I need to see him live before I slap a No. 2 starter on him, so we'll see how he handles full-season ball.


Steven Messner - Messner was signed out of Indy ball after going undrafted out of Cal State San Marcos. He's 24 years old. That's all I know.


Raymundo Montero - Montero is a 24-year-old Dominican who needs to move quickly in the bullpen. He was Salem-Keizer's closer last season and did well, so he should see some late-innings action for Augusta.


Tyler Rogers - The Giants drafted Rogers in the 10th round out of Austin Peay as a potential fast-riser in the bullpen. He's a submarine guy who will probably be used in late-inning situations.


Daniel Slania - Slania is a large human. He was drafted in the fifth round out of Notre Dame and should move quickly as a late-innings reliever. He throws hard from a huge frame.


Jacob Smith - Smith is a local guy from North Augusta who was discovered while working on the Lake Olmstead Stadium grounds crew. He was drafted in the 48th round out of Campbell and could be a swingman for the GreenJackets.


Nick Vander Tuig - Vander Tuig was drafted in the sixth round in 2013 out of UCLA. He was a headliner for a national champion and enters his first full season at 22 years old. Reports say he has a polished college arsenal with the ability to throw four pitches for strikes. He shows pitchability and knows how to work his secondaries, including a very good changeup. He'll be in the Augusta rotation.


Luis Ysla - Ysla has generated some buzz along with Mella. He throws hard from the left side and had an excellent pro debut in Arizona last year. He's 21 and will make his full-season debut in the Augusta rotation. We'll see if he gets a little more attention this summer.


Note: Reports are developed by personal observations, sources, and reports from Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.