On Wednesday the Oakland Athletics promoted right-handed pitcher Bobby Wahl to the major league roster. He made his MLB debut against the Minnesota Twins later that day and was hit hard, giving up two hits, a run, and a hit batsman in one-third of an inning, but more opportunities will come. Let’s take a look at his background.
The Athletics drafted Wahl in the fifth round in 2013 from the University of Mississippi. Initially a starting pitcher, he converted to the bullpen in 2014 but suffered a nerve injury to his throwing elbow, limiting him to 32 innings in 2015. He came back in ‘16 and was highly successful in High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, posting a 2.65 ERA in 54 innings with a 65/28 K/BB and only 36 hits allowed.
Wahl was rated as a Grade C+ pre-season, but was not ranked on the Oakland Athletics Top 20 Prospects list for 2017. He would place in the 20-25 range. He was blowing away Triple-A this year before his promotion, with a 1.93 ERA in 9.1 innings with a 14/4 K/BB.
Listed at 6-2, 210, Wahl was born March 21, 1992. He’s been clocked as high as 99 MPH, though more commonly he works in the 93-96 range with his fastball. His second pitch is a breaking ball described as a hard curve or slider, which was below average early in his career but has improved with bullpen work. Inconsistency with control is his biggest problem, although he’s shown he can shut down hitters (at least in the minors) when his command is working.
Overall Wahl projects as a middle reliever though he’ll need further progress with the breaking stuff and control before getting a chance to close.