Friday, November 16, 2007

Closer Found?

Towards the end of last season the Rays finally cut their ties with Jorge Cantu and shipped him to Cincinnati and in return the Rays received Calvin Medlock and Brian Shackelford. The Rays were just trying to get something for Cantu, but they may have got their future closer in the deal.

Medlock has had good numbers since being drafted by the Reds. He has a career 3.24 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. What is most impressive has been his ability to adapt and get better as he goes through the minors. Medlock seems to struggle when he is first moved up in the minors, but later adjusts and puts up good numbers. He was having a tough season last year when the Rays traded for him, he had a 5.63 ERA for AAA Louisville in 16 innings. After the trade though, Medlock pitched 15.2 innings and had an ERA of 3.45. Maybe he adjusted or maybe pitching coach Xavier Hernandez helped him work through whatever his struggles are. Whatever it was that was fixed has only made him better.

The Rays sent Medlock to the Arizona Fall League to gain experience this off season. If what he did there is any indication of what he can for the Rays, than they robbed the Reds in the that trade. Medlock gave up 3 earned runs in his first 4 innings in Arizona, but fixed that and did not give up an earned run in the last 12.2 innings he was there. With the Fall League rapping up Medlock will most likely finish with a 1.62 ERA and 9.5 K/BB ratio. While in Arizona batters had an average of .127 against him and he had a .56 WHIP.

Medlock has all the makings of closer. He does not walk many, gives up few hits, and has the pitches to get the strikeouts when necessary. The Rays are in need of help in the bullpen, but they may not have to go out and get too much help. He is not ready to close just yet, but he will only get better as he gains major league experience. The Rays need to give him a real shot in Spring Training to see what he can do.

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