Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #48 Donovan Hand

BBtJN Logo“Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” continues on this most glorious of February days as we take a look at a player who is attending his first big league camp.

He was discussed last year prior to Jim Henderson’s eventual call up as another option who was performing pretty well in the minor leagues out of the bullpen in Triple-A affiliate Nashville.

He is…

Donovan Hand.

donovanhand

Mostly as a relief pitcher in 2012, Donovan J. Hand compiled a 3.84 ERA over 79.2 innings pitched. He made three starts in 44 games. Overall, Hand held opponents to a .292 batting average, posted a 1.36 WHIP, struck out 54, and in 79.2 innings he walked only 18. And all of that was tallied while his allowed BABIP was .335 for what that’s worth.

Hand throws a heavy enough ball that he has kept home runs in check the past couple of year as he’s matured. Entering his age 27 season, the time has come to demonstrate to the Brewers’ coaching staff that he is indeed a viable candidate to be called up from the minor leagues should the need arise. He needs to pitch his name onto the short list.

It’ll be a bit tougher for him to get a call up in-season if only because Hand is coming to big league camp as a non-roster invitee. That means that he isn’t on the 40-man roster currently. That being said, he has a prime opportunity to impress as there should be plenty of innings in the first several games as a pair of entrenched relievers will be pitching for Team Canada for a stretch.

As for his short term projection, Hand was used in a variety of ways last season by Sounds manager Mike Guerrero and pitching coach Fred Dabney. 23 of Hand’s 41 relief appearances in 2012 were longer than three outs and 16 of those were at least six outs. He could possibly end up as a long reliever in the big leagues in 2013 if, for example, something devastating happened where the Brewers were forced to maybe move Tom Gorzelanny into the rotation for however long a time.

Physically, the Brewers website lists Hand at 6’3″ and 220 pounds. I’m guessing that’s the most up-to-date measurements since elsewhere sites agree on a listing of 6’4″ and 210. He throws (and swings) right-handed. Hand has made his hay primarily as a sinkerball (two-seam fastball) pitcher, but he tells me that he also throws a four-seam fastball, a cutter, a curve and a circle change.  He throws a four-seam fastball for specific reasons, like many sinkerball pitchers do. He used to throw a slider earlier in his career and told me that his cutter was born from his old slider and is “a smaller version of the slider”. When he was drafted he didn’t throw a curve.

Hand was originally drafted by the Brewers back in 2007 when they took him in the 14th round out of Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama. He reached Double-A in his first full season (2008) as a professional, still mostly starting at that time. He started less than half of his games in 2009, and made the switch to the bullpen basically full-time in 2010. It was in 2010 that Hand first reached the Triple-A level. After starting the 2011 season with nine appearances at Double-A Huntsville, he was promoted to Triple-A and hasn’t looked back finally pitching the full year with Nashville in 2012. He’s now logged over 200 games in the minor leagues including more than 100 at Triple-A.

Could it all be coming together for Donovan Hand in 2013? Certainly feels like it. He’s experienced in professional ball, he’s performed at the highest level of the minors, he earned his first invitation to big league camp…

Look, I’ll reiterate that it would likely take a situation of some significance for him to break camp with someone other than Nashville, but entering what are commonly considered as the prime years for a pitcher coupled with all the other circumstances, Hand could certainly get his name on that proverbial short list I mentioned before.

The work starts today at Brewers camp in Phoenix, Arizona. I’d be willing to be that Donovan Hand will be among those working the hardest.

You can follow Donovan on Twitter and support his quest for a successful season and big league call-up: @DonovanHand

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:

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