Batavia Muckdogs Reliever of the Year: 2010

Jose Rada is an easy choice as the top reliever on the Cardinals New York-Penn League club this year.

Sometimes these decisions are very difficult and sometimes they are not.  This one falls into the ‘no brainer' category since Venezuelan right-hander Jose Rada was clearly the best reliever to pitch at Batavia this year.


His 2010 season began on June 19th when he converted the Muckdogs' first save opportunity in the team's first win of the year.  (He was 21 years, 2 months and 6 days old which made him slightly older than Batavia's average roster age of 21-10-17.)  Rada's only blown save came in his next appearance on June 22nd when he gave up two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take his only loss, 5-4. 


After trading save opportunities with Keith Butler during June, Rada seized the closer's role as July began.  He went on to go 4-1 with 10 saves, one blown save, in 18 appearances over the just under seven weeks that he was at Batavia.  Rada had a 1.13 ERA and 1.33 FIP.  He allowed 11 hits and seven walks with 33 strikeouts in 24 innings for an 0.75 WHIP and 4.7:1 K/BB ratio.  Rada held opposing batters to a .134 average and he had a .196 BABIP. 


Rada pitched more than one inning four times with his longest stint being a three-inning appearance on June 24th when he notched his first 2010 win.  He made back-to-back appearances three times, all in July.  Rada inherited runners in just two of his 18 appearances:  two on his first appearance on June 19th and one in his 17th appearance on July 30th.  He stranded all three runners.  Rada was promoted to full season A ball Quad Cities on August 5th.  His loss left Batavia without a consistent shutdown closer.


Rada was originally signed on August 9, 2005 as a 17-year-old and assigned to the Venezuelan Summer League.  He first pitched there during the 2006 campaign and made 14 starts in 16 appearances while compiling a 2-6 record with a 4.48 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in 66 1/3 innings.  Rada recorded one save as well.  His performance was enough to get him promoted to the Gulf Coast League where he pitched for the GCL Cardinals in both 2007 and 2008. 


Rada went up to the Johnson City Cardinals in 2009 where he mainly pitched in middle relief in support of closers Aaron Terry and David Kington.  He amassed a 5-0 record in 23 games, no starts, 1.76 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 0.98 WHIP and 30 strikeouts against eight walks in 30 2/3 IP.  Rada also collected just his second professional save that year. 


While Jose Rada's 2010 performance at Batavia was truly exceptional, the performances of three other relievers merit notice as well:


Keith ButlerButler was drafted in the 24th round in June 2009 and spent most of the short season with the GCL Cardinals.  Overall, he tossed 30 1/3 innings with two of that total coming with Johnson City.  He had a 2.08 ERA, 2.38 FIP, 1.02 WHIP and 38 strikeouts with 13 walks cumulatively in 2009. 


Butler spent all of 2010 with Batavia where he went 0-3 with five converted saves and four blown saves in 27 regular season appearances and 16 games finished.  He compiled a 2.93 ERA, 2.21 FIP and 1.43 WHIP in 30 2/3 innings.  He struck out 50 while walking 15 for a 3.3:1 K/BB ratio and held the opposition to a .242 average (.322 BABIP). 


Butler made back-to-back appearances four times in the regular season and three of his four blown saves came in the second game of the back-to-back sequence.  One of his three losses was a result of a blown save.  He pitched more than one inning five times and one of his three losses came in his second inning of work.  Butler took over the closer duties after Rada's promotion and was the main ninth-inning option for the rest of the season.  He inherited runners in three games and four of the five scored. 


Butler also pitched back-to-back in the first two games of Batavia's three-game postseason series against Tri-City.  He pitched 1 1/3 innings of middle relief in game one but did not factor in the decision and saved game two.  Butler (DOB 1/30/89) was 21 years, 4 months, 20 days old at season's start.


Chase Reid – Michael (Chase) Reid was drafted in the 41st round in June 2010 out of Vanderbilt University.  He was on Batavia's opening day roster where his age (DOB 5/17/88) made his two and a half months older than average.  The tall (6-foot-3) right-hander went 2-0 with two converted saves and one blown save over 30 2/3 innings and 20 appearances during the regular season.  His blown save was of the seventh- and not the ninth-inning variety.  


Reid allowed just 16 hits and five walks with 43 strikeouts for an 0.68 WHIP, 8.6:1 K/BB ratio and .151 batting average against (.203 BABIP).  He had a 2.08 ERA and 1.81 FIP.  He pitched multiple innings in an appearance eight times and pitched in consecutive games once when Batavia had back-to-back double-headers.  Reid received and converted his first two save opportunities of his professional career in those two double-headers.  He inherited runners once and neither scored.


Reid and Butler appeared in the same game seven times with Reid preceding Butler each time except for the last game which came on September 5th.  Butler pitched the eighth and Reid the ninth in that game which was Batavia's last game of the regular season.  That arrangement repeated in game one of the post-season when Butler pitched the seventh and part of the eighth while Reid began his two and a third innings of work in the ninth.  He was hit with his second blown save of the season in his third inning of work and was the losing pitcher of record. 


Justin Wright – Normally, a pitcher with just five regular season appearances would not get a nod in this space but Justin Wright's work in a short period of time is noteworthy.  The diminutive (5-foot-9) lefty out of Virginia Tech was drafted in the 47th round in June 2010 and did not sign until August.  He was assigned to Batavia on the 14th where he appeared out of the bullpen, reportedly due to the amount of innings already pitched this season in college and summer ball. 


Wright's professional debut came on August 20th with Batavia in a hot pennant race.  He entered the game with runners aboard and got out of the jam, a situation he repeated on the 27th and in game one of the play-offs.  In all, he inherited six runners and stranded all of them.  Three of Wright's six appearances came with runners on base which matches Butler and exceeds Reid.  Wright struck out 10 in 7 2/3 innings with only two walks.  Opposing batters hit just .120 against him and he did not allow a run to score.  Wright had a 1.67 FIP.  Put him on your 2011 Watch List.


But the day belongs to Jose Rada.  Congratulations to him on being named Batavia's Reliever of the Year.

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