Brandon League, RHP
Bats: RightThrows: RightHeight: 6-2Weight: 205Age: 27
2010 salary: $1.8 million
2010 stats: 9-7 with a 3.42 ERA in 70 games with six saves.
League established himself as a dominant setup man in Safeco Field, where he was 6-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 36 games. Throwing a high-90s fastball with movement, he flashed closer’s stuff in the eighth inning and, when David Aardsma was unavailable, did well in the ninth. Worked two innings or more in a game nine times, and was 2-1 with a 0.96 ERA in those.
In games that got away from him, the problem was almost always command. It wasn’t just walks - 27 in 70 innings - but falling behind in the count to patient hitters. Posted a 3.99 ERA on the road. “He’s got a power arm, but a lot of power arms don’t succeed because they can’t hit their spots,” Tampa scout Roger Jongewaard said. “League has to work in, he has to work out - he can’t just overpower hitters in the middle of the zone.”
Summing up League's 2010
Acquired in the Brandon Morrow trade to strengthen Seattle’s late-inning relief, League did that and showed the potential to close. Could he take the next step and work the ninth inning regularly? “He has the velocity to close,” Jongewaard said. “I don’t know whether he has the command or the mentality. It takes a special guy to succeed in that situation.”
Looking to 2011:
League needs command of the strike zone, which isn’t the same as just throwing strikes. He must throw more quality pitches, especially against lefties, who hit .243 against him last year. High to mid-90s velocity, allows League to get away with some mistakes. If League pitches inside more regularly, and pitching coach Carl Willis will make it a priority, he’ll be even more effective - no matter what inning he’s in.