Is Cam Bedrosian the X-Factor for the Angels’ Bullpen?


The Kansas City Royals made it all the way to the World Series last year, and their success was due in large part to their young, hard-throwing bullpen. The Seattle Mariners’ had one of the best bullpens in baseball history in 2014, and the M’s came within one game of earning a postseason birth. The Los Angeles Angels had quality performances out of many of their relievers in 2014, but hitters did not fear the Halos bullpen the way they did the Royals and Mariners. Cam Bedrosian and his 95 mph fastball will make a huge impact for the Angels this season.

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Originally a first round pick in 2010 by the Angels, Cam Bedrosian has dominated opponents at every level during his journey through the minor leagues. Bedrosian began his career as a starter, but after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in 2011, he has been most successful as a reliever. The 23-year-old relies heavily on a running fastball, but mixes in a quality slider and changeup. He really hit his stride in the Arizona Fall League during the 2013 season. In a small sample size against the top prospects in baseball, Bedrosian posted a 2.89 ERA, recorded 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings, and allowed just 1.9 walks per 9 innings.

Cam Bedrosian ascended all the way from high-A ball to the Major Leagues in 2014. The Angels elected to send Bedrosian to the Inland Empire 66ers of the California League to open last season. He picked up right where he left of in Arizona, averaging an incredible 23.8 strikeouts per 9 innings during his brief stay with the 66ers. Bedrosian struck out 15 batters, walked 2, and allowed 1 hit over 5.2 innings of work in San Bernardino. Obviously, Bedrosian outclassed his opposition in high-A, and was deserving of the promotion.

Bedrosian spent the bulk of last season pitching for the Arkansas Travelers of the Texas League. Despite being 2.4 years younger than the average player in double-A, Bedrosian dominated his competition going 1-0 with a 1.11 ERA across 32.1 innings of work. Bedrosian was spectacular as the Travelers’ closer, picking up 15 saves, and posting a strikeout to walk ratio of 5.70. The Sharpsburg, GA product averaged a remarkable 15.9 strikeouts per 9 innings and issued just 2.8 free passes per 9 innings. He excelled at limiting base runners in 2014, holding the opposition to a paltry 0.619 walks/hits per inning.

Bedrosian saw some time with the Angels’ triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City last August. The right-hander struggled in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, going 1-1, and recording a 7.71 ERA across 7 innings of work. Bedrosian really had trouble with his command in Salt Lake, allowing 7.7 walks per 9 innings. He faced some adversity with the Bees, but he still managed to punch out 12.9 batters per 9 innings.

Jun 10, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Cam Bedrosian (68) pitches during the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Bedrosian bungeed back and forth between the minor leagues and the big leagues this past summer. He saw limited action in each of the final four months of the season, but he was never able to fully recreate the success he had in the minor leagues. Bedrosian went 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA across 19.1 innings in an Angels’ uniform. His 9.3 strikeouts per 9 innings were impressive, but he had difficulty locating his pitches, allowing 5.6 walks per 9 innings. Bedrosian’s strikeout to walk ratio was a mediocre 1.67 with the Halos.

Overall, 2014 was an incredible campaign for the 23-year-old righty. While his struggles in the big leagues were obvious, his dominance in the minors was jaw dropping. Bedrosian posted record of 2-1, with 18 saves, and an ERA of 2.00 over 45 innings in the minor leagues last year. He struck out a ridiculous 16.4 hitters per 9 innings, and allowed 3.6 walks per 9 innings. Unbelievably, Bedrosian gave up just 1 home run in his 45 innings. If his 4.56 strikeout to walk ratio from last year can carry over to the Major Leagues in 2015, he has the potential to be an all star.

The Mariners and Royals were led by their powerful bullpens last season. The one thing both bullpens have in common is velocity. Both clubs have a bevy of talented young arms whose fastballs regularly register in the mid 90’s. The average fastball velocity of the Mariners projected bullpen in 2015 is 93.6 mph. The 2015 projected Royals’ relievers enter the season with a cumulative fastball velocity average of 93.8 mph.

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The projected Angels’ bullpen enters spring training with a combined average fastball velocity of 91.0 mph from last season. Cory Rasmus and Bedrosian are the only two Angels’ relievers projected to appear in at least 30 games this season and whose fastball consistently tops 92 mph. To put that number into perspective, both the M’s and Royals only have two relief pitchers whose fastball does not average higher than 92 mph. The Halos have a bullpen made up primarily of finesse right-handers, and there is nothing wrong with that, but Cam Bedrosian’s 94.5 mph fastball will be critical to the Halos in 2015.

It goes without saying that velocity is not the only trait that matters for a pitcher. The ability to locate pitches, change speeds effectively and generate movement are equally important. The Angels’ relievers were very successful at all three of these skills last season. However, Cam Bedrosian’s power fastball will elevate the Angels’ bullpen from good to great in 2015. Command will be key for Bedrosian, but based on his track record, I believe he will excel as the seventh inning man in Anaheim this season. If Huston Street is not retained following this season, I would not be surprised if Bedrosian slides into the closer role for 2016.