Jeremy Kivel was a bit of a breakout prospect in the 2013 season thanks to his big fastball in his debut with the Arizona League Reds. In the 2014 season the right handed pitcher would spend the entire year with the Billings Mustangs and would see time both in the rotation and in the bullpen during the season.
The season started with a good note as Kivel took the mound on the 17th of June and allowed just one run in 4.1 innings with three strikeouts against Great Falls. The next time out was a bit of a struggle but the results were also good as he allowed just one earned run in 4.0 innings. He again had three strikeouts but he did walk four batters in the game. His final start of the month was a struggle and it was a sign of things to come. On the 28th against Helena he allowed five runs in 3.0 innings with three walks, three strikeouts and a home run.
July didn’t start in a poor way as Kivel allowed two runs in 4.1 innings with two walks and five strikeouts. The three starts that followed were not nearly as good though as he allowed 12 earned runs in 11.0 innings with seven walks, nine strikeouts and three home runs. The last of those three starts came on July 20th and it would be the last start of the month.
The 20-year-old wouldn’t take the mound again until August 4th and he would come out of the bullpen against Grand Junction. It was a strong appearance as he didn’t allow an earned run in 1.2 innings with no walks and three strikeouts. Despite the move into the bullpen he remained on a five day schedule and returned on the 9th. This time around he threw 2.0 innings and allowed a run with a walk and four strikeouts against Orem. His next appearance also came against Orem and it went for 2.1 shutout innings with two walks and five strikeouts. A week later he would return to the rotation with 3.0 shutout innings where he walked no one and struck out four batters. Kivel would face the same team again six days later and allowed a run in 2.2 innings with a walk and three strikeouts. In the final game of the regular season he came out of the bullpen to allow a run in 2.1 innings with a walk and two strikeouts.
He would make two appearances in the playoffs on the way to the Pioneer League Championship. Both appearances would come out of the bullpen. The first saw him pick up a win despite allowing two runs in 1.2 innings with a strikeout. His second appearance was in the final game of the Championship series where he tossed a hitless inning with a walk and a strikeout.
The move to the bullpen seemed to help straighten things out as his ERA was 1.93 over 14.0 innings with five walks and 21 strikeouts once the move was made including his time back in the rotation. Early on he struggled to throw strikes but he was able to straighten that out later on in the year. Kivel remains one of the bigger pure arms in the system but he is still rather raw on the mound. Despite the relative “rawness” the fact that he turned things around and was able to make the adjustments in the second half is a good sign.
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