This time last year, we were lamenting the fact that the Phillies conversion of Joe Bisenius from a starter to a reliever didn't go very well. Things changed for Bisenius in 2006 and he took to the relief role easily, moving up a level to Clearwater to start the season and winding up with another promotion before the season was through. Now, he could make another jump as the Phillies brought him to Major League camp and are going to give him a look for a spot in their bullpen. Although the odds are long, it's going to be interesting to see how it all plays out for the right-hander this Spring.
Joe Bisenius' career stats
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Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 12th round of the 2004 Draft out of Oklahoma City University. Bisenius was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 21st round of the 2003 Draft, but decided not to sign with them.
Repertoire: Bisenius has slowly developed a pretty good slider and has always had a strong fastball with good movement. His change-up is adequate, but isn't something that he's going to live and die with.
Pitching: Last season, Bisenius had a little more than three times as many strikeouts as he did walks, which is a big part of his success. He strikes out a high percentage of hitters and has pinpoint control while being able to move his fastball around the strike zone. He also makes it tough to hit the ball out of the park since he generally stays down in the zone and doesn't let a hitter get good swings at pitches. Bisenius is very poised on the mound and is getting much better at keeping his mechanics under control and not getting into bad habits.
Projection: Look at the timetable for when Bisenius could be a full-time member of the Phillies bullpen and you'll see how they project him. Tom Gordon is signed through the 2008 season and it's looking like 2008 may be when Bisenius will take over a permanent spot in the bullpen. If things play out right, Bisenius could get his feet wet in 2008 and take over in 2009 with Gordon likely being done and the Phillies not exercising the option that they hold with him for that season. In other words, Bisenius has all the makings of being the Phillies closer of the future and his timing is right on schedule.
ETA: There are some that believe Bisenius can handle a spot in the Phillies bullpen right now; others believe that he's going to need a little more time to develop a little more and figure that having him at Triple-A Ottawa wouldn't be a bad thing. By next season at the latest, he should be ready to pitch in the majors and could possibly have that moved up depending on how things play out this season.
Comparison: There are comparisons to Ryan Madson, but most scouts believe that when all is said and done, Bisenius will be the better pitcher. He has a better closer's mentality that Madson has shown even though both started out as starters in the minor leagues and had success in that role.