23. Eduard Bazardo (Relief Pitcher)
I fell in love with Eduard Bazardo in 2018. The right-handed pitcher’s first three years in the minors were all in Rookie Ball. Due to that, I never got to see him.
2018 was a great year for Bazardo, and 2019 was that much better. The main reason for that is his conversion to reliever. As a starter, Bazardo was good but had to hold back and got tired later in outings. As a reliever, he gets to just throw gas and it works for him.
Bazardo threw 73 1/3 innings in 2019, splitting time between Advanced-A and Double-A. That’s significant because before the year he had never pitched higher than Full-A.
Bazardo posted a 2.21 ERA in those 73 1/3 innings. He had a .206 BAA and 1.06 WHIP as well. Meanwhile, Bazardo struck out 88 batters and had four saves in six opportunities.
The 24-year-old (turned 24 on September 1) was basically untouchable the entire season. He was unfair at times and for stretches was the most dominant pitcher in the Red Sox system.
Bazardo also has pitches to love. He’s really a two-pitch guy but has a changeup that he uses on occasion just kind of to mix things up. That pitch is nothing special, sits in the mid-high-80s and has decent enough drop. Don’t really see it much as a reliever at all.
Then there’s a fastball that’s gotten so much better in recent years.
Bazardo’s fastball used to sit in the low-90s, touching the mid-90s at times. Now he’s sitting around 93-94 and can hit 97. The pitch also has a ton of movement on it and generates a good amount of swing-and-misses and a bunch of weak contact.
Finally, there’s a curveball that’s just nasty. The pitch sits in the low-80s and has just ridiculous spin on it. It drops pretty sharply and it’s one of those pitches that look unreal when watching in slow motion.
The best part about it though is that he’s pretty consistent with it. Bazardo can command the pitch pretty well and doesn’t leave it flat very much at all. This will create a lot of bad swings and caught looking strikes.
Bazardo shot up the ladder in 2019 and could do the same in 2020. He will likely start in the minors but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Red Sox gave him a chance to prove himself in Spring Training.
Even if he doesn’t make the Majors to start the year though, Bazardo shouldn’t be too far off. Expect him to find his way to Boston sometime in 2020. When he does, he could immediately become fantastic bullpen help.