People are beginning to invest less in closers each year. There’s constant turnover and change at the position. More than half of the pitchers who began last year as the closer didn’t finish with the job. Felipe Rivero, Corey Knebel, and Brad Hand were among the best at the position that most didn’t even consider on draft day.
It’s always wise to take a chance on a potential closer-in-waiting. Some teams haven’t named closers yet, but here are five names to consider late in drafts with the chance they could get saves at some point.
Carl Edwards Jr. (Chicago Cubs): Brandon Morrow was dominant out of the bullpen last season and will open as the closer, but he has a history of injuries. Edwards has a great arm and is difficult to hit, limiting opponents to a .130 average. He needs to cut down on the walks. While he had a 12.75 K/9, he had a 5.16 BB/9. He throws in the mid-90s and has an excellent curve. He has a career 15.6 percent swinging strike rate.
Yoshihisa Hirano (Arizona Diamondbacks): I haven’t heard many people mention him and he’s going extremely late in deeper formats. Many think Archie Bradley will close, but the Diamondbacks might prefer to let him pitch multiple innings or in high leverage spots early in the game. Hirano had 143 saves the last two seasons in Japan. He throws in the low-90s and has a splitter and could have an advantage early since teams haven’t seen him.
Joe Jimenez (Detroit Tigers): Jimenez missed some time with a back injury last year, and his velocity was diminished when he came to the majors. He’s the future closer with an average fastball of 95.6 miles per hour to go with a slider and changeup. In five seasons in the minors, Jimenez has a 1.56 ERA and 241 strikeouts in 167.1 innings.
A.J. Minter (Atlanta Braves): Minter began last season at A-ball and reached the majors to close out the season, displaying excellent skills. While Minter struggled at times in the minors with control, it wasn’t evident in the majors over 15 innings. He allowed 13 hits, walked two and struck out 26. With a fastball around 96 miles per hour and a nasty slider, Minter had an 18.2 percent swinging strike rate.
Drew Steckenrider (Miami Marlins): Steckenrider was called up in May last season and struggled initially. In his last 23.2 innings, he struck out 40 and had a 1.52 ERA. He had a 35.8 percent strikeout rate in 34.2 innings with the Marlins. If he can limit the walks, he can find himself getting saves at some point during the season.