What Happened In 2014: Dominant in High- and Double-A, which led to an unexpected late-season call-up.
There isn’t much fanfare for a guy drafted in the 17th round of the MLB Draft, but Daniel Coulombe could end up being one of the better late-round Dodger draftees in recent years.
He was recalled to the Dodgers on Sept. 16, and Mike had the appropriately written headline for the occasion: “Dodgers recall Daniel Coulombe, who is a living human being.” Now, being a prospect hound, I knew exactly who he was/is, but the general public didn’t. At the time, the Dodgers didn’t have much in the way of left-handed reliever depth beyond J.P. Howell, who began to wear down in September.
“Really, this is interesting less because of the arrival of Coulombe — unless you are Coulombe, in which case, hi — and more because of what it says. We know the Dodgers have wanted to find a second lefty alongside Howell, but most thought that Paco Rodriguez or Onelki Garcia would be that guy. Maybe they still will be, but now they’ve dipped into Double-A to find a relatively unknown prospect, and dipped into two years ago to find Scott Elbert. I can’t imagine this says anything good about Rodriguez, can it?”
Coulombe, a shorter lefty (5’10), had an uneventful debut season, logging just 4 1/3 innings. I saw him a couple of times over the last two seasons, and I came away impressed. He used his low-90s fastball that touched 95 MPH and a knockout curveball that was equally effective against lefties and righties. He also featured a slider and changeup in his first stint in the majors, but I wouldn’t expect him to be a 4-pitch pitcher in the majors (psst, scrap the slider).
His numbers and stuff were impressive enough to me to land the RP2 spot on my All-Prospect team.
“Coulombe is a lefty who doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he finds ways to strike hitters out. He performed well in Rancho and earned a promotion to Chattanooga, where he pitched equally well. I could see him being the next lefty reliever to come up through the system and doing well. J.P. Howell or Paco Rodriguez‘s jobs aren’t in danger, but Coulombe could be an up-and-down guy before finally getting established in the ‘pen.”
He struggles with his command at times, as he had a career 6.5 walks per nine innings rate in the minors prior to this season. Coulombe improved on that in 2014 and brought it down to 3.7 BB/9. That’s reason for optimism. He’s adept at getting strikeouts, as he owns a 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings rate in his MiLB career. Also, check out that 2014 strikeout percentage. I’d expect both of those to normalize once he gets consistent time in the majors (especially the K-rate). He’ll never be mistaken for Cliff Lee in terms of command, but he can miss bats with his stuff and could be more than just a LOOGY out of the bullpen.
2015 status: Will make the league minimum and has options. He’ll likely begin the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City and should be one of the first relievers recalled when needed.