On Thursday the New York Yankees promoted left-handed pitcher Richard Bleier to the major league roster. At age 29 he is not exactly a traditional prospect, but he's a rookie so we cover him here at Minor League Ball. Here's a quick take on his background and potential.
Bleier was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the sixth round back in 2008 from Florida Gulf Coast University. A control pitcher, he reached Double-A quickly and was starting regularly at that level beginning in 2010. There he stalled, spending the 2010, 2011, 2012, and most of the 2013 seasons in the Texas League. He was mediocre as a starter but was more effective after moving to the bullpen full-time in '12.
A waiver claim sent him to the Blue Jays system in 2014. In 2015 he signed a free agent contract with the Washington Nationals and moved back to starting, posting a 14-5, 2.57 ERA in 172 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, walking a mere 16 hitters but whiffing only 65. Now he's with the Yankees on another free agent contract, promoted to the Show after posting a 2.57 ERA in 35 innings as a starter in Triple-A, 15/6 K/BB.
Bleier is listed at 6-3, 215, born April 16, 1987. As you likely assume he does not throw hard, relying on pinpoint location of his mid-to-upper-80s fastball and his slider. He works the edges and the lower part of the strike zone and generates a large number of ground balls, with a 3.32 GO/AO this year and 2.33 in his career. He's succeeded in the upper minors because he never walks anyone; this may or may not work in the majors, but he deserves a chance to show us. He'll never have a big margin for error but he could provide some useful innings out of the bullpen or perhaps as an emergency starter.