The Los Angeles Dodgers have a closer that was once a catcher in their farm system and in 2014 they added another arm to their bullpen that was once a position player.
Pedro Baez was converted from third base to pitcher and quickly made his way through the ranks. He pitched in 48 games in the minors in 2013 and was touted as an arm to watch before 2014.
Baez began the year in Double-A before his promotion to the Dodgers in May. He quickly returned to the minor leagues, this time in Triple-A. Baez returned to Los Angeles in July for one game before being sent back down. In August, the right-hander made it back to the majors and remained there for the rest of the season.
Combining a mid-90s fastball and slider, Baez enjoyed success in the final two months of the season. He finished the year with a 2.63 ERA in 24 innings. Baez appeared in 20 games and struck out 18 batters. His effort earned him a spot on the playoff roster.
In Game 1, Baez was brought in for Clayton Kershaw in the seventh inning and promptly allowed a walk and a three-run home run that pushed the Cardinals lead to 10-6. He recovered to pitch 1.2 innings of hitless ball in Game 4, but the Dodgers fell to lose the series.
2014 Season Highlight
While Baez failed to earn a win or a save, he did have a few key games that he pitched in. On September 5 against the Arizona Diamondbacks the flame-thrower pitched in the seventh and got an out in the eighth to hold a 2-1 lead. The Dodgers would go on to win by that score and Baez dropped his ERA to a season-low 1.56.
Baez showed a lot in 2014, but also showed he had some things to work on. Despite his velocity, the right-hander had a low strikeout rate. However, he should return in 2015 as a member of the bullpen, unless the Dodgers make a few moves. Baez could prove to be an important arm for Don Mattingly in the later innings.