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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What Is/Was Sam Demel?

In yesterday's trade for Conor Jackson, the A's sent reliever Sam Demel to the Diamondbacks.  While I noted that the loss of Demel isn't likely to haunt the A's, let's take a look at what they're giving up.

The A's drafted Sam Demel in the third round in 2007 out of TCU.  Though he was primarily a starter during his first two years of college, he was moved to the bullpen for his junior year and flourished as TCU's closer.  In 49 innings he struck out 71 batters while walking only 17 and gave up just one homer.  He signed quickly and made 20 pro appearances in 2007, dominating the Midwest League -- allowing just two runs in 9 appearances -- but struggling in the California League -- giving up 16 runs in 14 innings.

Sent back to the Cal League in 2008, Demel pitched well, posting an ERA of 3,36 while saving 18 games.  He struck out over 12 batters per 9 innings, but he also struggled with his control, walking over 4 per 9 while also throwing 10 wild pitches in 67 innings.  Last season, he split time between AA and AAA, posting a 0.61 ERA in 29 AA innings and a 3.62 ERA in 32 AAA innings.  His K/rate fell from the ridiculous A ball levels to around 8 per 9 in AA and about a batter per inning in AAA.  Most concerning was his walk rate, which ballooned to nearly 6 per 9 while at Sacramento.  This year he's harnessed his control and cut his walk rate to under 3 per 9 while maintaining a solid, but unspectacular K/rate (8.79). 

Demel has the potential to be a solid middle reliever, which has value, but nothing indicates that he'll be a dominant force in the bullpen.  Furthermore, while you can never really have too much pitching, the A's seem to be set in the bullpen.  Demel was already behind Henry Rodriguez, Cedrick Bowers and Brad Kilby in terms of extra relief arms and the core of the A's current bullpen is young and unlikely to change much over the next few years.  Even though Demel will in all likelihood have a major league career, I suspect that most A's fans will forget he was ever a part of the organization in a year or two.

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