Sizing up the Padres relief prospects

The San Diego Padres have always proven they can acquire quality relievers, but times are changing. In the coming years, they will rely on their own prospects to settle the bullpen. Given the talent base down below, that offers a promising future.

Highest ceiling:

Craig Italiano

Acquired via trade in 2009, Italiano has a deadly mid-90s fastball and tilting slider that comes from a three-quarters arm angle. His look and feel for pitching, combined with his ability to hit the corners and be aggressive, has him on the doorstep of a bullpen spot. The change in arm angle came just last year so he will need some time to prove it is repeatable, but the different look he offers and the changing angles has hitters confounded.

Alexis Lara

Always possessing a plus repertoire of pitches, Lara finally matched the stuff with a calmer delivery and focus. By going at 98 percent efficiency, the right-hander found control of a mid-90s fastball. Add in an already plus changeup and an increased aptitude for mixing his pitches, Lara's ceiling and fact have begun to close.

Bryan Oland

Oland throws a low-90s fastball with sink and two different splitters that throw hitters off-balance. He has a harder split that offers a sharp drop right before the zone and a second one that drops off the table entirely and many hitters see strike and swing only to see the ball kiss dirt. One area that needs improvement is his ability to pitch in non-save situations. It is likely that he will help the majors in a role that is not closing and must be ready for those chances.

Brad Brach

A closer's mentality and the ability to throw strikes on a consistent basis has him in rarified air. His only bugaboo is the struggles he has in non-save situations. A very quick worker with three pitches that can be above-average, hitters have a tough time getting good wood on his ball.

Need to make their move:

Matt Buschmann

Moved from the starting rotation to the pen, Buschmann could find success with a two-pitch repertoire. His mechanics have suffered in the last year, as his once moving two-seamer has flattened out. He needs to finish on top of pitches to get downward movement that would make his fastball and slider sharper.

Jon Ellis

Armed with one of the better sliders in the organization, Ellis has not been able to master fastball command. While he doesn't allow many hits, the walks have been killer. Until he consistently shows he can locate his pitches, Ellis is on the outside looking in.

Tyson Bagley

Armed with a mid-90s fastball, Bagley has struggled to curtail his max-effort approach. Because of this, his location is not crisp or certain and his secondary pitches have not taken positive strides.

Stephen Faris

A gifted athlete, Faris was moved to the bullpen when his changeup didn't come around. He has a plus curveball and can locate his fastball but lacks velocity. A high-80s fastball needs a third pitch to be effective in any role.

Mario Tabachnik

He has the fastball but lacks command of the pitch. He also has trouble working out of tough situations, buckling under the pressure. The biggest thing that Tabachnik must work on is the mental side of the game. Too many small things can turn into big things for him.

Al Angelucci

The converted outfielder has a low-to-mid-90s fastball but has no command. When he does throw a strike it is over the heart of the plate. He is a bit fragile mentally and has mechanical issues to iron out.

Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards

Join on Twitter at

MadFriars Top Stories