2008 Braves Bullpen: Jose Ascanio
RHP Jose Ascanio- The 22-year old Venezuelan right-hander really came out of nowhere this year but had a good season with Mississippi and showed some flashes of brilliance with Atlanta. In the previous two seasons, Ascanio had posted ERAs of 4.57 and 6.10 mostly with Myrtle Beach. This year, Ascanio had a 2.54 ERA in 78 innings with Mississippi. The big reason for the change was a drastic improvement in command. The right-hander went from allowing around four walks a game to just over two this year. He allowed 66 hits this season, had a 78/22 K/BB, and gave up only one home run in the minors as well as keeping the ball on the ground a decent amount.
Ascanio got the call to Atlanta when Wil Ledezma was placed on the restricted list in mid-July. He was up and down twice that month but compiled a 1.29 ERA in five outings. Ascanio makes use of a low-to-mid 90's fastball and a slider in the 83-85 mph range. The one problem I noticed from the beginning was that he threw up in the zone quite a bit. He got away with it that first month but the rest of his stay in the majors, he was lit up. The righty made eight more appearances in August and September, posting an 8.00 ERA in nine innings. He consistantly left the ball up in the zone and his command regressed. By the end of the season, Cox seemed to have very little trust or confidence in him, only bringing him in during non-pressure situations. His numbers were disappointing overall. In 16 innings, Ascanio had a 5.06 ERA, allowed seventeen hits, six walks, and struck out thirteen while allowing three long balls.
Ascanio has an uphill battle to fight for a spot in the pen next season. No matter how hard you throw or how much movement you have on your breaking ball, major league hitters will hit it if it is up in the zone and Ascanio found that out in a pretty hard way late in the season. He has pretty good stuff and isn't going to walk a lot of people, but he just doesn't seem to have the necessary command inside the strikezone to keep the ball down. There is a chance of him making the opening day roster with a very good spring but most likely he'll start the year in the minors.