On Saturday, we discussed the possibility of how a 36-year-old veteran could conceivably impact the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen in righty Brandon Morrow. In today’s column, we’ll take the opposite approach, examining the potential of 24-year-old southpaw Alex Vesia.
For those unfamiliar with Vesia, he was acquired by the Dodgers—along with 22-year-old righty starter Kyle Hurt—in a trade that sent journeyman reliever Dylan Floro to the Marlins. The deal occurred on the same day Los Angeles shipped reliever Adam Kolarek and outfielder Cody Thomas to Oakland in exchange for infielder Sheldon Neuse and righty starting pitcher Gus Varland.
Vesia was originally selected by the Marlins in the 17th round of the 2018 MLB draft out of Cal State East Bay.
The 6-foot-1, 205-lb. Vesia made his big-league debut during the shortened 2020 season, despite his initial year the majors being a bit of a rocky one.
Vesia threw in the bigs for the first time against the Phillies on Jul. 25, appearing in the sixth inning of a 7-1 loss. However, he was one of 18 Marlins who tested positive for the coronavirus in the subsequent days, eventually sidelining him for several weeks.
The native of Alpine, CA, returned to the hill on Aug. 29 in an interleague matchup against the Rays, but his overall numbers for 2020 were severely skewed when he got thumped for five runs after giving up three walks and three hits—including a two-run bomb to Ronald Acuna Jr. against the Braves early in September.
Nevertheless, the young lefty is looking for another fresh start with the Dodgers. When considering the overwhelming lack of southpaw relievers in the Los Angeles system—especially with Kolarek’s departure—there may be a crack of an opening for Vesia to slide through.
Over two full seasons on the Miami farm, Vesia appeared in 52 games, with all but one coming in relief. During that time, he compiled an 11-2 record with a 1.62 ERA and a very impressive 138 punchouts against just 26 walks in an even 100 innings of work.
According to Brooks Baseball, Vesia uses a four-seam, a slider and a changeup, although he threw his fastball 72.8 percent of the time last year with the Marlins. Last September, his four-seam peaked just shy of 93 MPH, but it is known much more for its movement, specifically the whopping 10-inch drop.
In his first few bullpen sessions so far this spring, Vesia has already garnered praise from the Los Angeles coaching staff.
Pitching coach Mark prior has said Vesia’s fastball is unique and comes out free and easy.
“It’s been jumping out on guys,” Prior said on Sunday. “It is very eye-opening.”
Known for his excellent work ethic, Vesia built a wall made of plywood, a memory foam mattress, and a thick welding blanket during the quarantine period so he could continue throwing his heater at peak velocity.
“I take it to heart,” Vesia said in an interview last July. “Because over the course of my career so far, I feel like I’ve always found a way to get better, or to just make the most of everything. It was a critical point, because I wasn’t going to just sit there and let days go by and not try to get better.”
Vesia has all three option years remaining on his contract.