Red Sox add to bullpen depth with John Cornely

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The Red Sox have added a bit of depth to their bullpen, acquiring minor league relief pitcher John Cornely from the Braves in exchange for cash considerations.

As far as career minor leaguers go (the 26-year old Cornely has made just one major league appearance, in which he allowed four runs in just an inning of work), Cornely does bring a fair amount of upside to the table. He has displayed wipeout stuff throughout his minor league career and is the owner of a 12.1 K/9 in 229.1 minor league innings, spent entirely in relief.

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As a member of the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves this season, Cornely has tossed 18.1 innings with respectable results in his first taste of the International League. His 4.42 ERA isn’t spectacular but his peripherals– 11.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9– suggest that he could be in for some improvement and that walk rate is significantly lower than in any other season for Cornely.

Walks have been the major issue for Cornely throughout the minor leagues, as he has walked a fairly appalling 4.8 batters per nine innings in his career. However, there are plentiful reasons to be optimistic for Cornely if he is able to maintain a decent walk rate.

In fact, a lack of command has really been the only knock on Cornely in his career. He has never had an issue with limiting contact as he has consistently posted dominant strikeout numbers and has allowed an impressive 6.5 H/9 in the minor leagues. And with a 2.94 career minor league ERA, he has been able to work through the walks to have success. With the walks no longer such a problem for Cornely, it’s reasonable to expect he could have a career as a middle reliever.

Cornely is just a minor addition to the Red Sox and might never play much of a role in Boston. However, the Red Sox have had some depth issues in their bullpen (though they have been mostly cured by the improvement of the starting rotation) and there’s nothing wrong with adding a bit of upside with Cornely. If he is able to dominate in Triple-A while keeping the walks to a minimum, a cup of coffee is not out of the question this season.