If you’re a longtime reader of this site, you’ll know that we’ve been talking about reliever Joe Broussard from his early days at Double-A Tulsa. In effect, so much time has passed that the 28-year-old righty is beyond his days as a prospect; yet, he still hasn’t risen to the call of pitching at the big league level.
A few years back, he was exposed to rival clubs for the first time by not being protected in the Rule 5 draft; however, much to the surprise of many, the New Orleans native was not snatched up by another team. That’s not to say that nobody was interested—it just reflects that no club wanted to run the risk of keeping him on its major league 25-man roster for an entire season unconditionally.
Regardless, Broussard heads into 2019 spring training with another invite to the major league side of camp after garnering his first NRI in 2018. And, despite the bullpen competition being quite stiff this year, he could theoretically be in position to finally make his MLB debut at some point during the upcoming campaign.
If you weren’t paying close attention last year, here’s a startling stat for you: the Dodgers used a whopping 29 different relief pitchers at the big league level last year. That’s no typo. Of course, this list included guys like Wilmer Font, Zach Neal, Adam Liberatore, Daniel Corcino (and even in one case Enrique Hernandez), but it’s indeed a testament to how the landscape of a bullpen can change over the course of a 162-game season.
Furthermore, even though, Broussard isn’t on the club’s 40-man roster, he could conceivably work his way into the picture depending on injuries and the overall usage of the relief corps as a whole.
Broussard was motivated enough to throw in the Dominican Winter League during the offseason, tossing an even 13 innings in 13 games for Estrellas de Oriente in San Pedro de Macoris. Last year for Triple-A Oklahoma City in the hitter-friendly PCL, he tallied 66-1/3 frames over 57 games, posting a 3.12 ERA with 71 punchouts.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound righty made his debut at OKC in the middle of the 2017 season, finishing the year at 63-1/3 innings over 48 appearances, registering five saves with 73 total strikeouts.
Broussard attended college at LSU and was instrumental as the team’s captain in 2014, leading the school to its 11th SEC Championship. In the process, he appeared in 32 games as the Tigers’ closer, registering a 3-2 record and a 1.05 ERA in 34-1/3 innings with 37 strikeouts.
Selected by the Dodgers in the 15th round of the 2014 draft, he suffered a UCL tear in his pitching elbow in the summer of 2012 while playing in the Cape Cod League, eventually receiving a medical redshirt for the 2013 season as he rehabilitated after Tommy John surgery. The ligament tear would have no ill effects on his elbow since joining the Dodgers organization.
Broussard’s bread and butter is certainly his heater, which normally sits in the low-to-mid 90s, but features a ton of nasty movement. Coupled with his very deceptive, over-the-top delivery, he sometimes appears borderline untouchable when his mechanics are all in tune.
Despite the Dodgers having plenty of talented arms available early, there’s still optimism for Broussard. Obviously, spots on the big league 25-man roster will be at a premium on Opening Day, but there’s a lot of mediocrity in the guts of the prospective major league relief crew.
With time seemingly beginning to run out for him, 2019 could finally be the year Broussard gets his chance.