I had heard very little about Denny Bautista before the Tigers traded Jose Capellan to the Rockies for him. With the bullpen looking like the Tigers weakest link for the upcoming season, Bautista’s potential ability to fill some major holes for the team is being closely watched. So far he’s been given as many innings as some of the more established ‘pen pitchers, if you can call them that, Grilli and Miner and he has certainly impressed.
Denny has yet to allow a run in eight innings of work and given up only 3 hits and 3 walks along with 8 Ks. Impressive, given the lackluster performances thus far of Todd Jones, Zach Miner and Tim Byrdak. Yet this is only eight innings in the life of a very well traveled 26 year-old who has seen 115.7 innings over work at the major league level over the past four years, 8 innings in ’07, and not put up numbers close to these.
Going into the 2005 season, Baseball America ranked him as the Royals #2 prospect, right behind Billy Butler and ahead of Mark Teahan. Additionally he was rated to have the Royals system best fastball, curveball and slider. Initially a starter, Denny was moved to the bullpen in mid-2006 after starting a total of 15 games. After being moved to the bullpen and pushed to Triple-A he had a pretty good 2007 season with Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
Denny is extremely solid against right-handed batters but far from it against lefties. This might be OK in a bullpen that has some strong LHP’s in Byrdak and Bobby Seay. With the continuing troubles of Fernando Rodney and the idiotic moves by Jordan Tata, Bautista is very likely to make the team out of camp. He has the potential to put up some solid numbers for the team this year but it is even more likely that we will get to sit through a number of Grilli-esque innings. PECOTA seems to agree (subscription required.)