The Dodgers bullpen is among the deepest in the league. They have Kenley Jansen who is locked in the closers role. Javy Guerra has worked as the team’s closer in the past and is a solid setup man. Ronald Belisario has quickly emerged as a lights out option.
That leaves Shawn Tolleson, who has struggled in the Major Leagues but shown the potential to be a lights out closer moving forward. Obviously he’s not in the right situation to find that opportunity, but would it be surprising if he was a centerpiece of one of their deadline deals (possibly to the Cubs or Astros)? That would immediately throw him into a potential to earn saves, so let’s get acquainted with the youngster:
- 24-years old
- Right-handed pitcher
- Drafted by the Dodgers in the 30th round in 2010 out of Baylor
- Worked as a starting pitcher in college, but was transitioned to the bullpen upon being drafted
- Has shown an electric strikeout rate in the minor leagues, with a 14.46 K/9 at Triple-A and 13.35 K/9 overall
- According to mlb.com the strikeouts come courtesy of a, “live arm that can pump fastballs up to 96 mph, and he has a short, quick slider with great late life he can throw at any point in the count. He even has a changeup he’s been developing for left-handed hitters.”
- Has been able to hammer the strike zone, with a 2.10 BB/9 in the minor leagues
- Has done a good job of keeping the ball in the ballpark, with a 0.52 HR/9 in the minors
- In just 102 minor league appearances has registered 47 saves
- Struggled in the Major Leagues, failing to generate the same number of strikeouts (4 K) and walking too many (5 BB) in 4.2 IP; it was a small sample size, however
- Since returning to the Majors on July 15 has 6 K vs. 0 BB over 3.2 IP
- Prior to the season Rotoprofessor ranked Tolleson as the Dodgers #4 prospect for 2012 saying, “The Dodgers have Kenley Jansen, who is a young flame-thrower who should emerge as the closer in 2012. However, Tolleson could ultimately be just as good, if not better. Across three levels in 2011 (69.0 IP) he had 105 K vs. 18 BB while racking up 25 saves. That tells you all you really need to know.”
He has shown in the minor leagues that he has the stuff of an ideal closer. How often have we seen a pitcher with a big strikeout rate walking the ballpark? While we have yet to fully see it in the Major Leagues for an extended period of time, the potential is clearly there.
Granted, he doesn’t have the opportunity to close games in Los Angeles but they are a team that has a lot of holes to fill and are in the thick of the race in the NL West. They have been tied to a lot of trade rumors already, including Ryan Dempster of the Cubs. Along with the Astros, they are in desperate need of bullpen help making Tolleson an extremely intriguing trade target.
If he ends up in Chicago or Houston, he could step almost immediately into the closers role. That makes him a player that all fantasy owners should be eying, because he will bring immediate value.