Blake Rivera, RHP
BATS: R / THROWS: R
ACQUIRED: Drafted 2018, 4th Round
LAST LEVEL: Double-A
VOLATILITY: Very High
GiantFutures 2023 Ranks: #24 Overall, #5 Relief Pitcher
2022 Performance: After a difficult 2021 season, Rivera was putting together an excellent 2022 until an injury ended it early.
Rivera started things a bit rough by giving up three runs, with two home runs, in his first game of the season and having a 4.76 ERA at the end of April, and a 4.11 ERA after May. But through May and June he gave up just one earned run over those two months, with 21 strikeouts to nine walks in 19 innings. But there, an undisclosed injury cost him all of August, and almost all of September, though he came back for a single scoreless inning on September 17th. Rivera finished the season with a 2.70 ERA and 48 strikeouts to 23 walks in 46.2 innings.
Rivera did have a very interesting split. As you’d expect with a right-handed pitcher, he gave up more hits to left-handers (.213 average to .156), but he struggled with his control significantly against right-handers, with 17 walks in 112 plate appearances, while giving up just six walks in 83 plate appearances to lefties.
Strengths and Weaknesses: When Rivera was drafted in 2018, his curveball looked like a weapon to live off of, but it’s nearly gone now. Instead, he has a high-90’s fastball with cut that is one of the best in the system, and a slider that has been improving. His changeup remains something he needs, and it’s what could help him with those walks against right-handers.
Obviously, control remains an issue for Rivera, as does his health. His velocity would drop off with longer outings, but he is now a fulltime reliever and the fastball is holding up. But he still needs to stay healthy to develop into his potential.
2023 Outlook: Rivera is ready for Triple-A, he just needs to stay healthy, and that will be his main job in 2023.
Future Profile: Blake Rivera will probably never reach the level that his promising stuff once promised he might be able to reach. But his stuff still gives him a pretty good level of potential. If he can stay healthy, Rivera could be an unhittable option in the late inning relief mix.