The Giants are engaged in a (the) playoff race and called upon a big arm recently. Dan Runzler is still relatively new to professional baseball. After spending a few years at UC Riverside and bypassing the Mariners in 2006, Runzler was drafted in the ninth round of the 2007 draft. The 24-year-old tore through the low minors; striking out 25 batters in this first 19 innings in the system, 69 in 54 innings in 2008, and 83 in 59 innings this year.
At 6’4” and somewhere around 215 pounds, Runzler could easily pass for a football player. One glance in his direction and you expect a baseball to turn into a fireball when he loads and fires. That’s accurate (minus the pyro). As of this writing Runzler has thrown 14 pitches in the bigs and nine have been heaters. The average speed on these suckers is right around 96 miles per hour and – as best as I can tell – the velocity ceiling sits a touch above 97 miles per hour. Runzler has a violent breaking curve that darts down and in to righties and a slider to boot.
The issue with Runzler is predictable. His fastball control seems iffy at absolute best. Take a look at his unintentional walk rates through the minor leagues:
Rookie (77 BF): 7.8%
Short Season (134 BF): 17.2%
Advanced A (81 BF): 4.9%
A (220 BF): 14.1%
AA (40 BF): 15%
AAA (7 BF): 0%
The sample size is far, far too small at the AA/AAA levels to make any definitive statements about whether he can handle the majors without walking a fifth of the batters he faces. Still, it’s not unforeseeable to see Runzler draw some comparison to Matt Thornton (the M’s version) in the near future.