Donovan Hand (RHP)
Profile: After spending portions of the last four seasons with Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds, Hand finally gets the call to join the Brewers bullpen.
Selected in the 14th round of the 2007 draft, Hand began his career as a starter at Helena in 2007. He pitched in seven games, starting six of them before being promoted to Low-A West Virginia. Hand split the 2008 season between Low-A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville. He returned to Huntsville for the 2009 season, where he appeared in 27 games, starting 12. He went 8-5 with a 3.56 ERA.
Hand made the move to full-time reliever in 2010, appearing in 48 games between Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville. In 2011, Hand made nine relief appearances with Huntsville before re-joining Nashville’s bullpen. He posted a 3.60 ERA in 39 appearances with the Sounds. The Alabama native spent all of 2012 at Nashville and went 3-3 in 44 appearances with a 3.84 ERA.
A strong spring left Hand as an option for the final spot in the Brewers bullpen. He was one of the final cuts of Spring Training and returned to Nashville once again. The 6’3″ righty had a great month of April, posting a 1.32 ERA in eight relief appearances. May has not been as kind to Hand, who had allowed eight earned runs in eight May outings. At the time of his promotion, Hand had a 2-1 record with an ERA of 3.18
Strengths: Hand’s biggest strength is his control and his ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes. He does a good job of keeping hitters off balance, working off a good curveball and mixing in his other offerings. Despite not having overpowering stuff, Hand knows how to set hitters up to notch a strikeout when a situation calls for one. Having started in the past, he does have the ability to go multiple innings out of the pen.
Weaknesses: Hand doesn’t throw particularly hard. He has to rely on his command more than other pitchers who may have better stuff. If his location is off, Hand will get hit around, so his control and accuracy need to be spot on for him to have success.
The Future: The fact that the Brewers chose to call up Hand, who was not on the 40-man roster over several others who were, tells you the Brewers have liked what they’ve seen from him. Ron Roenicke and Doug Melvin both commented this spring about liking Hand as a bullpen option. Much like other recent call-ups such as Mike Fiers and Hiram Burgos, Hand may have success early but once teams get a look at him a few times, he may struggle. He’s better against right-handed hitters and if he can have success, would be a nice, cost-effective option for the Brewers bullpen for the next few years.