FORT MYERS, Fla. -- About a year ago, a 29-year-old journeyman reliever held a tryout in Arizona for scouts, hoping to attract interest from major league clubs.
Weeks later, he had heard from just one and that team's interest was limited to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp. The pitcher, bereft of other options, accepted.
By midseason, he was part of the Red Sox bullpen. By August and September, was one of their most trustworthy relievers.
Now, a year later, the Red Sox are hoping they can find the next Ryan Brasier -- that is, an undervalued, inexpensive piece to help solidify their bullpen. After spending lavishly on the rest of their roster (the starting rotation alone will earn more than $88 million), the Sox have made the decision to limit their financial commitment to the bullpen.
Their thinking is two-fold. First, relievers are notoriously unpredictable when it comes to their performance and relievers given big-dollar commitments often fizzle. Secondly, they point to Brasier as an example that teams can sometimes find contributions in the unlikeliest places.
"Today, I saw a few guys ... interesting guys,'' said Alex Cora. "We do feel that their stuff is going to play at the big league level. We've got a whole spring training to figure that out, but as far as talent, I do feel that there's a lot of stuff there -- good fastballs, good breaking balls.
"As far as finding guys who might fit the program, we feel that we can maximize their potential. I feel very comfortable about that.''
So, who are these guys? BostonSportsJournal.com spoke with pitching coach Dana LeVangie to offer insight.