On the first day of November the Astros claimed right-handed reliever Sam Demel off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Demel, 27, pitched in only one game for Arizona last season, spending the rest of the year with the AAA Reno Aces. Demel appeared in 56 games for Reno, posting a 4.07 ERA and a WHIP of 1.24.
Demel is a product of Spring High School and TCU. He was selected in the third round of the 2007 MLB Draft by Oakland. Demel worked as a closer in college and early in his pro career. He was traded from Oakland to Arizona in 2010 and the D-backs immediately brought him to the big leagues. Demel spent the remainder of the season with the D-backs and in 2011 he split time between Arizona and Reno.
There’s nothing pretty about the numbers Demel has posted at the big league level. The only thing that stands out to me is the fact that he has been a workhorse throughout his professional career. Maybe there is something else the Astros see in Demel.
Exactly what does Doug Brocail have to work with? Demel throws a low nineties fastball that isn’t going to blow away big league hitters but does have decent movement. He relies heavily on his cutter. Demel also features a slider and a 2-seam fastball. In 2011 his changeup was still a work in progress. That may be something he worked on at AAA last season, I honestly don’t know. He doesn’t have the kind of stuff that allows him to do much work inside.
I’d say Demel is definitely a project for Brocail to work on. Right now it looks like there are plenty of openings in the Astros bullpen. Demel will be one of several pitchers attempting to secure a spot. If he makes the team it will most likely be as a low-leverage type reliever, a.k.a. mop-up man.