Internal Bullpen Options Available to the Blue Jays
Mandatory Credit: Ryan Tepera’s twitter page
This Texan right-hander has been in the Blue Jays organization for a longtime. He was drafted out of Sam Houston State University during the 19th round of the 2009 draft, and had been toiling in the lower levels as a starter until being converted to the bullpen nearing the end of the 2013 season. He spent the entirety of last season in Buffalo as a reliever and, after striking out 9.4 batters per nine and posting an ERA of 3.66, he looks poised to breakout in a big way this upcoming season.
Standing at 6’1″, Tepera is a bit shorter than the average pitcher but that does not limit the pitches in his arsenal any. Like many pitchers who begin their careers as starters, he saw his fastball velocity spike once he moved into the bullpen. Although he had always been more of a pitch-to-contact guy as a starter, with his fastball now ranging between 94-96 mph as a reliever he has began to miss a lot more bats as well. He also features a solid slider, which gives him that two-pitch mix that every relief pitcher needs to succeed.
The big strike against Tepera is that left-handed hitters weren’t fooled by him at all last season, and in over 100 plate appearances they held him to an OPS of .852. On the other hand he was quite successful against right-handers in a larger sample size, limiting them to an OPS of only .629 in nearly 150 plate appearances. Couple those stats with his funky delivery and you have a candidate who could could emerge as a righty-specialist in the big leagues next season. Before brushing that projection aside, keep in mind that the Blue Jays thought enough of him to move him on to the 40-man roster and protect him from the Rule 5 Draft this offseason.