The Oakland Athletics called up rookie right-hander J.B. Wendelken on Saturday and he's already seen action in two games, giving up five runs on five hits and two walks in 2.1 innings, while fanning two. Wendelken has received little attention so let's correct that.
First, the pre-season take from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
J.B. Wendelken, RHP, Oakland Athletics
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-0 WT: 190 DOB: March 24, 1993
A 13th round draft pick in 2012 from Middle Georgia Community College, Wendelken relieved at the lower levels and was very good at it. The White Sox moved him to the starting rotation in 2014 and he was hammered hard in the Carolina League. Moved back to the bullpen in 2015, he responded with a strong season in the high minors then was traded to the Athletics as part of the Brett Lawrie deal. Wendelken’s fastball is okay at 90-93 but his change-up is excellent and both pitches play up due to a deceptive delivery. Lack of a consistent breaking ball and a high-effort delivery hampered him as a starter but he could slot nicely in a middle role. Grade C.
Wendelken was off to a good start in Triple-A, throwing 11 innings over 10 games with a 3.27 ERA and four walks, but with an excellent 20 strikeouts. He was very good last year in the White Sox system (3.20 ERA, 69/16 K/BB in 59 innings between Double-A and Triple-A) so moving him up when a bullpen arm was needed in the majors was justified.
There are no major changes in the scouting reports: his fastball has been 90-93 in the majors, just as expected. He makes frequent use of his 80-83 MPH change-up, using it almost as often as the fastball, and will toss an occasional upper-70s curve. His ability to deceive hitters with the change-up resulted in high minor league strikeout rates, especially in the bullpen, but it remains to be seen if it will work in the majors. Two and a third innings isn't enough of a sample to know.
If he is able to make any necessary adjustments, Wendelken profiles as a 10th or 11th man on a pitching staff, a short or middle relief type.
This Nathaniel Stoltz video is two years old but gives the general idea.