The Los Angles Angels recently promoted Damien Magnifico to the big league bullpen. A day later they sent him back down to Triple-A.
Magnifico was an interesting prospect from the moment he was selected. Perhaps a better word is perplexing. The Milwaukee Brewers selected Magnifico with the 185th pick in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Draft. He was an enigma then, and continues to be one now.
The 6-foot-1, 195 pound right-hander finished his collegiate career at Oklahoma. His final season was nothing to get excited about on the stat sheet. He went 2-1 with a 4.01 ERA allowing 46 hits in 42.2 innings. His 27-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio was modest. He made 18 appearances, the bulk of which (14) came out of the bullpen.
What did get teams excited was what he did on the radar gun. His fastball was exactly that. Fast. He hit triple-digits frequently in college. The biggest problem, most felt, was that was all he did.
The fastball had little movement, and his secondary offerings were average on his best days. Paired with the fact that he had surgery that required screws in his elbow a year prior in JUCO, some felt the Brewers may have jumped too early.
We all know the story, though. Today’s game loves triple-digit throwers. It’s seemingly always worth taking a chance.
The Brewers actually tried him as a starter and he put in a solid performance in the Florida State League. He went 8-6 in 2014, posting a 3.74 ERA and a career-best 1.27 WHIP in his time as a starter. He went the distance twice, with two complete game shutouts. The strikeout totals, however, were very underwhelming, striking out 76 and walking 43 in 120.1 innings.
The next year he advanced to Double-A and moved to the bullpen for good. He had a good year as well, going 4-1 with an identical 1.17 ERA and WHIP. His strikeouts got a little bit better, punching out 38 in 53.2, but he still walked 22.
That’s basically who Magnifico is. He has good heat, but with lack of deception, it doesn’t really strike too many people out. His slider has improved giving him a usable second pitch, but his changeup lags in its progress. His control is still inconsistent, as his career 4.15 walk rate in the minors indicates.
He made his big league debut with the Brewers in 2016. Magnifico appeared in three games last year, walking three and striking no one out. He was then traded twice this season, first to the Baltimore Orioles and then to the Angels. He made his 2017 debut on June 3, pitching one-third of an inning, walking two and striking out one.
Now 26, Magnifico seems to be organizational depth. As long as he can keep bringing the heat, he will likely have a place on a roster. How much major league time he will get will be the biggest question.