On Wednesday night the Arizona Diamondbacks designated reliever J.B. Bukauskas for assignment. The former top prospect for the Houston Astros and 1st round pick turned 26-years-old after the 2022 season ended.

In 2021 he would make his big league debut, and he struggled. In his first season as a reliever he battled injuries, but also couldn’t quite find his footing on the big league mound. With Arizona in the big leagues he posted a 7.79 ERA in 17.1 innings where he allowed 24 hits, four home runs, and he walked 17 batters. In the minor leagues that season he posted a 4.26 ERA in 12.2 innings with four walks and 16 strikeouts at the Triple-A level.

This past season he once again battled injuries – missing the first few months of the year with a strained muscle in his shoulder. He would join Triple-A Reno at the beginning of July and pitch in 21 games. He only allowed runs in four of those games, posting a 2.66 ERA in 20.1 innings with just one home run allowed, four walks, and he struck out 19 batters.

Despite the good performance, Arizona never called him up to the big leagues. Instead the team sent him to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, but he only pitched in one game. A quick internet search does not seem to have any information at all as to why that happened.

If we are going to assume that he’s healthy – which is an assumption given his Arizona Fall League disappearance – then we can look back at how his stuff played in Triple-A because the Pacific Coast League has publicly available pitch tracking data. During the season he averaged 94.2 MPH with his sinker, 88.4 MPH with his change up, and 86.0 MPH with his slider.

His sinker moves a lot. It’s got above-average sink as well as above-average movement on the horizontal plane. His slider is almost more of a cutter than a slider in terms of movement. Those are his two main pitches, making up over 95% of what he throws (50.5% sinkers, 44.7% sliders).

While the fastball does seem to have good movement to it, it’s not exactly tricking hitters. In Triple-A this season opponents hit .368 against his fastball when making contact and they slugged .711. By comparison, guys don’t have much success against his slider. They hit just .211 against it and slugged just .263 against it.

Perhaps there’s something that can improve his fastball a little bit, or even something as simple as having him throw fewer fastballs and more sliders could tilt the numbers in his favor a bit more. And these are also things that can be worked out in the minor leagues, too, because Bukauskas still has an option remaining.

You can see the career stats for J.B. Bukauskas here.

31 Responses

  1. TJ

    Doug, I meant to ask you this in earlier posts. Do you have any knowledge that the Reds have an Excel spreadsheet or a huge whiteboard with players names that they are interested in? For instance, a list of names for what their ultimate roster would look like in 2023, 2024….etc. Of course there would be payroll constraints figured in I. I know they have to be thinking about the future, but just how prepared are they?

    • Doug Gray

      I mean I don’t have direct knowledge, but there’s a database of sorts with available scouting reports and stuff like that – or at least there was. While I didn’t see it directly, I did ask a front office employee a question a few years ago that he was able to pull up the info for on his phone within about 15 seconds that would have only been able to have been done with something like what you are describing.

  2. Redhaze

    I remember the Diamondbacks were high on him and were fast tracking him to the majors. I talked to a Dback coach about him when he was coming off the DL when they in Cincy. Could be worth a flyer for sure.

  3. Redsvol

    For me it’s a matter of whether he can be better than the bottom 3 relievers on the 40 man – gibault, karcher and kuhnel. He got lit up across 22 innings in 2021. I’m not convinced he would be better. I think better options will appear once all the remaining unsigned pitchers get signed.

    • Moonmadness

      The first thing I want want to know if I was responsible for signing him is just exactly why he was DFA. I don’t know the details of course but at first glance it seems he would be worth signing to a minor league contract and letting him compete for a relief job at spring training with out other guys.

    • Optimist

      Yes – MiLB contract, non-roster spot, invite to MLB spring training, catch and release if needed. They need to go thru several dozen of these guys in the spring, keep a dozen or so, and see what 6-8 weeks in AAA shows. Cannot continue tryouts in the first few months of the MLB season.

  4. MK

    Worth a shot. The hierarchy seems to like other teams failed first round picks.

  5. LDS

    Nah, he’s way too young. He might actually have an upside. Isn’t someone available who is already in their mid-30s? Somewhat sarcastic to be sure, but the Reds have passed on a number of other young, cheap candidates with substantial upside.

  6. Gonzo Reds

    I say yes, will help with my “Under” bet on 64.5 wins. 😉

  7. LDS

    I see Bowden is suggesting the Reds as one of the best fits for Mancini. Skeptical, but an interesting thought.

    • Old Big Ed

      I don’t see it. Mancini will be 31 this year, and can pretty much only play 1B, with perhaps some LF in a pinch. He had an OPS+ last year of 101, and 106 in 2021. So, he is a league average hitter at best; he is slow; and he plays the same position as Joey Votto.

      He would probably take away some ABs that would otherwise go to Tyler Stephenson, or Spencer Steer.

      Mancini is a good guy, but I don’t see a fit here.

      • west larry

        the mets have both mancini and duvall on their radar, which probably eliminates the the reds from either player.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      He’s an established major league bat, which the Reds have just a handful of at the moment. He can be a DH.

      • Josh

        The Teds aren’t signing ANYONE who is going to make over league minimum. It’s all minor league contracts from here on out. Not sure why people think they are going to sign players to multimillion dollar contracts. Bob’s not spending.

    • LDS

      Well, the Reds do need to hedge their bets on Votto. And he’s not the only question mark, just the most obvious. All those pitchers coming off the DL are suspect until they prove otherwise.

  8. Tom Diesman

    Connor Seabold, who the Red Sox just DFA’d, might also be a good pick up for a back end of the rotation option. He has 30 GS in AAA with a 3.39 ERA.

    • Harry Stoner

      Seems like the right dumpster to dive into.

      On paper, he looks very solid.

      A wonder why Boston is letting him go?

  9. Old-school

    Pitchers and catchers report feb 14th.

    Need some real baseball news.

  10. earmbrister

    Don’t know Bukauskas from Bupkis. Seems like he might have some arm or shoulder issues, but signing him to a minor league/invite to camp deal might be smart if the medicals support it.

    Meanwhile, there is plenty of time to make additions at the margins,

    Naquin was signed on 2/21.
    Drury was signed on 3/21.
    Pham was signed on 3/26.

    While we won’t be able to count on as many late additions providing meaningful contributions going forward, the FO is surely focused on several players at this time.

    Real happy with the Wil Myers add. He should thrive in GABP, and was a welcome addition at a position of need.

    • MK

      Naquin and Pham available again. I’d be for Naquin.

      • Gonzo Reds

        Going to recruit Pham for my next fantasy football league.

        As far as MLB, he’s done.

      • earmbrister

        Naquin is a Joe Average kind of OFr (though I was a fan of his). We already have his replacement in Freidl, who gives us similiar production at a cheaper price and is 4 years younger. And Naquin struggled after the trade to the Metropolitans.

        Good call on Pham Gonzo.

    • old-school

      It does appear the Reds are done signing players who will be every day positional starters or even a back of the rotation journeyman SP on MLB contracts. They need a lefty bat IMO but it appears Friedl is going to play a major role against RH pitchers.

      Here’s my starting lineup on OD assuming health against the Pirates as we are now 1 month from Pitchers/catchers reporting.

      India 2b
      Fraley LF
      Stephenson C
      Votto 1b
      Myers RF
      Friedl DH
      Steer 3b
      Newman SS
      Senzel CF

      Hunter Greene SP

      • LDS

        That is one sorry lineup. If Newman is starting, 100 losses is likely guaranteed. Votto batting 4th again? Didn’t we learn anything the last couple of years?

      • earmbrister

        OR that’s not an improved lineup as compared to the end of last year.

      • BCMurph

        I don’t believe Senzel and Votto will be healed up enough to start opening day.

        I think Myers moves to 1B and Friedl to the OF and perhaps Cruz works in to the DH spot

      • Tom Diesman

        That lineup is real close to where I’d have it as well. My only change would be Fairchild for Senzel and juggle the OF/DH for optimum defense.

      • earmbrister

        That should’ve read:

        OR that IS an improved lineup as compared to the end of last year.

  11. JB

    Like to see the Reds pick up Leiter. Cubs just DFA’d him .

    • Tom Diesman

      Agree he looks to be a decent candidate for back end rotation or bullpen depth.