Jonas Dufek intrigues me. Now he may not be the most exciting name, or even a player known to many fans, but there is potential here.
Yes, it is hard to get excited about minor league relievers, but they are often overlooked. And as this season showed, they are very necessary.
Dufek was drafted by the Astros in the 9th round in the 2011 draft out of Creighton University. He quickly made his debut with Tri-Cities and made 11 starts and had a 3.71 ERA. However the following year, Dufek did not have the same success.
Between A-ball and High-A, Dufek made 24 starts in 2012 and struggled to a 5.47 ERA. We all know about the plethora of starting pitchers the Astros have in the minor leagues, so it would make sense that the Astros would convert Dufek into a reliever for 2013.
Dufek returned to Lancaster and appeared in 36 games and had a 4.28 ERA to go along with a 1.43 WHIP in 48.1 innings. When the righthander was promoted to AA Corpus Christi, he found success. The 25-year old appeared in 14 games with the Hooks and had a 7-0 record with just a 0.47 ERA and an equally as minuscule .78 WHIP. Dufek struck out 20 batters in 19.1 innings, but more importantly also recorded four saves.
I know this is not enough to prematurely talk about elevating Dufek to the major league bullpen for next season, but it could turn out to be an interesting option. It certainly bears watching this fall in Arizona.