SCOTTSDALE — Silvino Bracho is building his arm back up, and, after early 2019 Tommy John surgery, believes there’s still more in the tank.
He knows this because he saw it a month ago.
The 28-year-old righty, who is in Giants camp on a minor league deal, said he was throwing 93-96 mph in the Venezuela winter league, which is more promising than his brief 2020 inning, in which he threw a 91.9-mph fastball with Arizona.
He was not fully healthy, he said, and still had work to do to to get back a pitch that had averaged 93.3 mph in 2018, when he was a solid option for Arizona (3.19 ERA in 31 innings).
With his fastball back, he was the closer of the year in the winter league and then took a few weeks off. He’s at 90-92 mph right now, he said, but is feeling more and more like himself.
He wants to “show the team what I’m capable of doing,” and that might not even begin with his fastball.
Bracho is among the many non-roster arms of interest in Giants camp in large part because of a changeup that he plays off his fastball. He has thrown it more and more since he debuted in 2015, using it 37.1 percent of the time in 2018.
“We’ve seen the changeup in the bullpen, it’s been great,” Gabe Kapler said Thursday over Zoom, before adding Silvino has a “history of strike-throwing with the Diamondbacks.”
The Giants like his control, his live arm and his changeup, even if it’s not his favorite.
“I know I got a good fastball. I got a good spinrate on my fastball,” said Bracho, whose fastball held opposing batters to a .193 average off of it in 2018. “Especially in San Francisco, pitchers have that advantage with the wind. I want to use my fastball a lot and use my changeup when I need to use it.”
He also brings a slider he’s been working on to try to separate himself from a pretty crowded bullpen picture. Jake McGee and Jarlin Garcia are locks from the left side, while Reyes Moronta, Matt Wisler, Tyler Rogers and Rule 5 pick Dedniel Núñez are good bets for Opening Day from the right side. That would leave Bracho, his good pal and ex-Diamondbacks teammate James Sherfy, Sam Selman and plenty more NRIs, including Nick Tropeano, Dominic Leone and Jay Jackson, fighting for probably two spots.
It’s possible Bracho could have signed elsewhere, where his chances of making the team out of camp might have been improved, and he said he had other offers. But he preferred to stay in the NL West, and he heard from a couple friends that the Giants are a good organization.
Albert Suarez, a righty who pitched in 2016 and ’17 with the Giants, encouraged the fit, as well as Lipso Nava, his manager in the winter league and the fundamentals coach with the Giants’ High-A affiliate, Eugene.
“It’s a great organization, they are great people,” Bracho said he was told. “And that’s what they’ve shown me since I’ve been here.”
Donovan Solano took ground balls both at third base and second base. Darin Ruf, who played just four games at first last year, saw time at both first and left field during drills. Tommy La Stella switched between second and third. There will be a lot of moving pieces to the Giants’ lineup.
Johnny Cueto threw live batting practice to Ruf and Austin Slater on the main field at Scottsdale Stadium. His changeup was “awesome,” Kapler said.
Johnny Cueto’s been facing Slater and Ruf and quick-pitching a bunch already. He had Slater pretty off-balance here. pic.twitter.com/GlFOCyXrsh
— Mark W. Sanchez (@MarkWSanchez) February 25, 2021