- Born: October 2nd, 1991 (Age 29)
- Son of former Cy Young Award winner Steve Bedrosian.
- Middle name is Rock.
- Drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the first round, 29th overall in 2010.
- Debuted June 3rd, 2014.
- Was non-tendered by the Angels on October 3rd, 2020.
- Signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds on February 16th.
The Good Stuff
Cam Bedrosian might have only gotten a minor league deal from the Reds, but that doesn’t mean he’s a longshot to make the Opening Day roster. In four of the last five years— one of which was admittedly a 2020 season that consisted of fewer than 15 innings — Bedrosian has finished with a FIP under 4.00. After a pair of shaky seasons to start his career, he found his footing in 2016 and held opponents to just a 1.12 ERA and 2.13 FIP over 40.1 innings. None of the subsequent seasons lived up to that high standard, during which he set a career high in strikeout percentage (31.5%), delivered his second-lowest walk rate of his career (8.6%), and allowed just a single home run, but he’s still been plenty effective. His ERA went up to 4.43 in 2017, but has dropped every year since. He’s also been pretty durable, landing on the IL just three times total for things like finger tendinitis, a forearm strain and an adductor strain, none of which are expected to be lingering issues in 2021.
Sound like someone who should have gotten a big league deal? I think so too. A big reason he didn’t, though, might lay in one of those tables up there. In that 2016 season that saw him have so much success, he was averaging 95.9 mph with his fastball. The very next year, it was down two full ticks, and by the time 2020 rolled around it had dropped another two ticks. Teams behave extremely cautiously when it comes to falling velocity — just ask Brad Hand, one of baseball’s elite relievers of the last five years, yet who settled for a lesser deal than expected due in part to a downward trend in his radar readings over the last two seasons. Add a funny-sounding injury to declining heat in his fastball, and it’s not all that surprising Bedrosian’s market never reached a boiling point.
As I discussed with regards to Sean Doolittle, though, a pitcher’s loss of velocity isn’t quite as scary if they prove they can pitch effectively in spite of it. Bedrosian, to this point, has done that. As his Statcast percentiles above show, he was working in the 73rd percentile in xwOBA as recently as 2019, despite throwing much slower than he was just a few seasons prior. He’s also maintained his well above-average spin throughout his career, and in 2020, was showing the most perceived rise of his career with his fastball. In fact, only four pitchers had more vertical movement on their four-seamer, and they were four of last year’s best arms: Trevor Bauer, James Karinchak, Walker Buehler and Liam Hendriks.
His slider is similarly impressive. Its vertical break is 7.2 inches above average, the seventh-best mark in the majors. I know I showed a couple of them above, but I really want to look at another one.
If you aren’t going to spend money on established high-end talent at the back of your bullpen, I suppose loading up on cheap players who have elite movement isn’t the worst back-up plan. Bedrosian comes with another perk in that he doesn’t have much of a platoon split — lefties hit him a little harder, but he also strikes out more of them, which helps his FIP against opposite-handed hitters (3.61) match up almost exactly with his FIP against righties (3.59). And before his ground ball rate tanked in the small sample 2020 season, it had run above 47% in three of the previous four years, the return of which would help him a good deal when pitching inside Great American Ball Park.
Bedrosian isn’t as likely to make the Opening Day bullpen as his former teammate Noe Ramirez or Doolittle, but he should have a very good chance. After Amir Garrett and Lucas Sims, it’s hard to think of anyone else who is either more experienced or easily deserves high priority. His biggest hurdle could be guys who are out of options such as Sal Romano, Jose De Leon and Jeff Hoffman, as Dan Szymborski noted at the time he was signed. But between his track record and qualities like spin and movement that the Reds are known to covet, I’d be surprised if the team didn’t find a way to get him onto the staff.