Heading into the 2012 season, Baseball America ranked right-hander Kelvin Herrera as the Kansas City Royals number seven prospect. After a successful rookie season in the big leagues, Herrera is no longer eligible for the prospect ranking.
The fireballer excelled with a move to the bullpen in 2011, where he started the season with High-A Wilmington and finished it in the big leagues. Herrera is now seen as the Royals closer of the future.
He averaged 98.5 mph on his fastball in 2012 and topped at 103 mph. With that type of fastball, he can exploit hitters with his offspeed pitches. Batters only put his high 80s changeup into play about a quarter of the time.
Herrera was 4-3 with a 2.35 ERA in 76 games (with three saves). He was a key cog in a bullpen that had the American League’s fourth best ERA.
However he was MUCH better in the second half of 2012 (where he picked up all of his saves). From May 1st on, he struck out 69 in 74.1 innings while walking twenty. He did not allow a homerun.
At the end of his rookie season, Baseball America named him to their All-Rookie Team (as their closer). Herrera led all rookie relievers in games and innings pitched. He also had a ground ball rate of 55%.
It will be interesting to see how manager Ned Yost uses his bullpen in 2013. Will it be Greg Holland getting the ball in the ninth inning, or will it be Herrera?