DAN RUNZLER, LEFT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: March 30, 1985
Drafted: 9th Round, 284th Overall, 2007 (Giants)
How Acquired: Minor league free agent
College: University of California, Riverside
Agent: ISE Baseball
WTM’S PLAYER PROFILE
|Runzler was drafted as a lefty with swing-and-miss stuff that, in college, had played up as a reliever. His fastball got up to 93 then, but during his time in the majors it averaged about 95 mph. Runzler throws the fastball downhill, resulting in a 50% groundball rate and very few gopher balls throughout his career, even when he’s been struggling. He also throws a sharp slider. Runzler had struggled to throw strikes throughout his career, while striking out batters often in large numbers. He eventually spent parts of four seasons in the majors with San Francisco, pitching well at times but always with, at best, shaky control. As a major leaguer, he’s been used often but not always as a lefty specialist. His career opponents’ OPS is .545 against left-handed hitters and .789 against right-handed hitters.
Runzler started off in rookie ball, which is a low level for a ninth round pick out of college. He pitched well in relief there, striking out a lot of hitters.
The Giants sent Runzler to low A to pitch in relief at the start of the season. He struggled there due to control problems and was sent down to short season ball. He was very hard to hit there, but his control didn’t get much better.
Runzler shot up through four levels of the minors, allowing only 23 hits in 59 innings. His control improved just enough and he fanned a large number of hitters. His season prompted Baseball America to name Runzler the Giants’ fifth best prospect after the season. The Giants called him up for September and he pitched very well in 11 games, albeit with very shaky control.
Runzler opened the season in the Giants’ bullpen and continued his pattern of high walk and strikeout rates. Through early July, he had an opponents’ batting line of 248/359/339, despite a high BABIP of .342. He missed most of July and August with a dislocation in his knee, then returned to the majors for five September games, giving him 41 with the Giants overall.
Runzler struggled early in the year with the Giants and got optioned to AAA in early June. He was up and down several times after that. The walks continued and he didn’t miss as many bats in his major league stint. Some of his troubles may have been bad luck. His xFIP of 3.96 was far better than his ERA, and he was hurt by a high BABIP of .367 and low strand rate of 53.3%. He didn’t pitch a great deal better in AAA than in the majors. He did, however, throw scoreless ball in 11 September outings with the Giants.
Runzler missed the start of the season with a strained lat muscle and didn’t return until June. After a rehab the Giants optioned him to AAA, where he mostly struggled. He didn’t appear in the majors until September.
The Giants optioned Runzler to AAA for the entire season and he had a rough year. He got hit fairly hard, and saw his walk rate go up while his K rate declined.
Runzler spent another season in AAA and his control problems got worse. The Giants released him at the end of July and he signed with Arizona after the season.
Runzler continued struggling in AAA, with a high walk rate and significantly more hits allowed than innings pitched. The Diamondbacks released him at the end of July and he caught on with Sugar Land in the independent Atlantic League. This time he signed with the Twins in the off-season.
After still more AAA struggles, the Twins released Runzler in late June. He saw his K rate drop sharply while still having the control issues. He again signed with Sugar Land and pitched better there, allowing far fewer walks but getting hit harder than normal.
Runzler spent the entire AAA season with Indianapolis and didn’t pitch all that well. His ERA was good, but he allowed a lot of baserunners, benefiting from a high strand rate of 82.8%. His xFIP was 4.23. Runzler had trouble throwing strikes and his K rate dropped well below his career norms. He did well against left-handed batters, holding them to a .602 OPS, but right-handed batters hammered him for a .962 OPS. Nevertheless, the Pirates added him to the 40-man roster and called him up once Indianapolis was out of the playoffs. He pitched poorly in limited time with the Pirates, retiring giving up seven hits, two of them HRs, and two walks over the course of just 20 batters faced.
Runzler showed no sign in 2017, either in AAA or the majors, that he’s likely to be a useful pitcher in the majors. He should be one of the leading candidates to come off the roster during the off-season when the Pirates need to create an opening.
|2018: Major league minimum
2017: Major league minimum
|Signing Bonus: $67,500
MiLB Debut: 2007
MLB Debut: 9/4/2009
MiLB FA Eligible: 2017
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 9/2/2009 (removed and added again)
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2011, 2012, 2013)
MLB Service Time: 2.093
|June 7, 2006: Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 17th round, 501st overall pick.
June 7, 2007: Drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 9th round, 284th overall pick; signed on June 18.
September 2, 2009: Contract purchased by the San Francisco Giants.
September 3, 2013: Designated for assignment by the San Francisco Giants; outrighted to AAA on September 6.
July 30, 2014: Released by the San Francisco Giants.
December 24, 2014: Signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks as a minor league free agent.
July 30, 2015: Released by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
November 9, 2015: Signed by the Minnesota Twins as a minor league free agent.
June 22, 2016: Released by the Minnesota Twins.
November 2, 2016: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league free agent.
September 10, 2017: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.