Diamondbacks' Battered Bullpen Finds Relief In Demel
PHOENIX—Before a Sept. 29 game in San Francisco, new Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers mentioned that he had not seen Sam Demel pitch.
Three hours later, Towers saw Demel, briefly . . . but good, as scouts say. The 24-year-old righthander struck out National League rookie of the year candidate Buster Posey on three pitches, the last a 92 mph two-seam fastball that sunk down and in under Posey's hands.
Demel paired that sinker with a cut fastball to make him one of the few bright spots in Arizona's NL-worst bullpen. Towers said that finding relief will be his top priority for 2011.
The Diamondbacks used Demel in the eighth inning in September, and his performance could make him a keeper going forward.
"He has great stuff," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He can move the ball both ways. He'll cut it. He'll sink it. If you can do that to both sides of the plate, you have a shot. When the ball moves that much, it is hard to center. He just has to learn how to use it consistently."
Acquired from the Athletics for Conor Jackson in June, Demel finished 2-1, 5.35 with two saves, his stats distorted by outings in which he gave up three and four runs eight days apart in late August. He was 1-1, 2.84 with a save in seven September appearances. Among Demel's strengths is his ability to throw strikes—he had 33 strikeouts and 12 walks, by far the best ratio among Arizona relievers.
"I used to be a guy when I came in, I'd strike out a lot of guys and I'd walk a lot of guys," said Demel, who developed his cut fastball in the Arizona Fall League in 2009. "Then when you give up hits, you are giving up runs. If you are in the zone, you give up a double, it's not the end of the world because there is nobody on base in front of him.
"It took a long time, and it took a lot more confidence in the fastball. It's trusting your stuff, and trusting your stuff in the zone. Guys who trust their stuff, and get a lot of swings and misses, have to realize that trusting your stuff in the zone is just as important as trusting your stuff out of the zone."
• Rookie-level Missoula was nominated for the Larry MacPhail award, presented yearly to the minor league organization exhibiting the most outstanding promotional work.
• The Diamondbacks' six domestic minor league affiliates finished with a cumulative record of 346-362. Their .489 winning percentage tied with the White Sox for 21st among the 30 organizations.