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Meet Reyes Moronta, your new favorite reliever

The Giants have another hard thrower in the bullpen. Good.

San Francisco Giants Photo Day
I like him.
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Edit: Okay, so apparently Moronta was “sent down” before making an appearance, which means this post “didn’t age well” and sort of “made me look like a fool.” However, all of the words still apply! I think he’ll be up sooner rather than later, and he’ll be exciting.

This’ll learn me to schedule a post when I’m away from my computer.

The Giants unexpectedly placed Mark Melancon on the 10-day DL with a pulled 2017 this week, but the move was so sudden that there was no corresponding move until Wednesday morning. The move was an easy, exciting one, straight from the 40-man roster, with 24-year-old Reyes Moronta coming up.

You will like Reyes Moronta.

The right-handed Moronta was added to the 40-man roster this winter, despite having never pitched above Class-A, because he threw in the high-90s and joined the 100-mph club last year. Someone was going to take him in the Rule 5 draft because they would have figured he could survive in the majors. And, look at that, the Giants are hoping he can survive in the majors.

As you would expect from someone who throws hard, Moronta racks up strikeouts. The Giants took it very slow with him, keeping him in Rookie League until he was 22, and even then placing him in Low Class-A. A promotion to San Jose last year was the turning point in his career, and he struck out 93 batters in 59 innings. The control (3.2 BB/9 over the last two years) and command aren’t ideal yet, but he’s compensated with stuff.

So far in Double-A, Moronta has struck out 17 batters in 11⅓ innings, and his fastball is still a spicy meatball.

Why will you like him? Because he’s different. That’s the biggest reason. Neil Ramirez threw in the low-90s with a cool slider. George Kontos throws in the high-80s/low-90s with a slider that’s cool 60 percent of the time. Cory Gearrin has some of the wackiest stuff on the roster, but he has trouble controlling it.

Moronta throws hard. And then he throws harder. When he misses, it makes sense. When the batter misses, it makes sense. I suppose the proper comp would be Hunter Strickland with dodgier control/command, and that’s okay! I like Strickland as a balanced part of a regular bullpen. But even though Moronta is a little old for a classic Double-A prospect, that doesn’t mean he’s too old to learn better control and command on the job.

Should you run out and get Moronta for your fantasy team? Yes. Yes, you should. Because there are two possibilities:

  1. You’re in my fantasy league, and I want you to waste a roster spot because it would be a competitive advantage for me.
  2. You’re not in my fantasy league, and I want you to waste a roster spot because it would amuse me.

Which is to say, no, he’s not going to pitch high-leverage innings just yet. Or this season. And he might be gone in eight days, back down to Double-A to continue learning the gentle art of throwing baseballs where you want them to go.

There’s a chance, though, that he sticks. One minute Edwin Diaz is a struggling starter in Double-A, and then POOF, he’s making Seattle drunk with sliders. One minute Craig Kimbrel is a goofball walking nearly six batters per nine innings in Triple-A, and then POOF, he’s in the majors for good. One minute Ken Giles has a 6.00 ERA in Class-A, and the next season, POOF, he’s finishing fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

That’s not to say that Moronta is going to be that excellent, that fast. He might not do much in the majors at all, so it’s unfair to mention Diaz, Kimbrel, and Giles in the same post as him. But, well, throwing 100 mph will do wonders for your career, and life will come at you fast. This doesn’t have to be a quick turnaround for him if he impresses the world in his short stay.

It’s cough not like the Giants have a Core Four of relievers that they’re super attached to these days. I mean, I respect Bryan Morris, and I’m sure he tries really hard, but if he’s on the team indefinitely, something has gone really, really wrong. If he’s on the team in July, something has probably gone a little askew, even.

If you want a good chuckle, go back and read this post from last February.

The strength of the Giants' farm system

It's the bullpen. And if there's a strength for a contending team to have, this isn't a bad one.

You ass.

Ian Gardeck and Jake Smith were both added to the 40-man roster this offseason after impressive seasons in the Cal League, and they both ...

You absolute ass. Why would you write this?

On the other hand, Derek Law turned out fine, and Steven Okert looks promising. It wasn’t that wacky. And the thesis still stands: It would be awesome if the Giants could develop some relievers of their own.

Here’s one. And while he’ll probably be gone before you know it, 100-mph fastballs and embarrassed batters are habit forming. Before last season, Moronta didn’t even merit a mention in a post about bullpen prospects. This year, he might be the most exciting part of the 2017 Giants, give or take.