The Tampa Bay Rays had the best bullpen in the Major Leagues last season. After trading their projected closer, we take a look at one guy standing out so far in his spring audition.
When the Tampa Bay Rays traded their projected closer, Emilio Pagan earlier this offseason, it opened up a few opportunities for relievers to join the league’s most stingy bullpen from last season. Ryan Sherriff is one of the pitchers that has joined the fray.
Sherriff has been dominant in three spring innings thus far. The two-seam artist has allowed one hit and zero walks. How did he end up here?
Sherriff was drafted in the 33rd round out of the 2010 draft by the Washington Nationals. He did not sign with the team and was again drafted the following year by the Cardinals. This time he signed and a Cardinal he became.
Sherriff pitched in 50.1 innings in 2011 between Rookie Ball and Low-A. He ended his first professional season with a solid 3.93 ERA.
The following season he went 10-3 with a 3.25 ERA and started 16 games in High-A. In his first 147.1 innings, he had only given up 30 walks and 11 homers. He brought his hits per nine down from a 9.3 his first season to a 7.3. It was becoming evident that this kid was going to be really good. He walked a mere 1.8 per nine in 2011 and 1.9 per nine in 2012. He pounded the zone with his locomotive-like sinker and put about half of his batted balls on the ground.
He won the Palm Beach Cardinals Starting Pitcher of the Year Award in 2012.
Things would only get better from here… for a while.