Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Collecting the Durham Bulls: CJ Riefenhauser

I am a really big fan of CJ and see some good things in the future for the talented Bulls relief pitcher.  Last season the left-handed pitcher made an appearance after posting an ERA of 0.51 and a WHIP of 0.73 during the first half of the season in Double A Montgomery.  Later in the summer Riefenhauser was promoted to Durham where he posted a solid 3.05 ERA with a WHIP 1.06.  I have seen CJ pitch several times in person and think he is going to at worst be an excellent left-handed specialist out of the pen.  Much the same way the Rays have used J.P Howell and Alex Torres to neutralize left-handed batters at the end of games.

If there is a flaw in CJ's game at this point, it is consistently getting out right-handed batters.  However, I have seen some real improvement in this area over his time in Durham.  Left-handed batters posted a .122/.181/.172 line against CJ, but right-handers did not fair much better with a .183/.240/.263 line.  It seems that Durham Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo has been allowing Riefenhauser to face a good mixture of batters in the early parts of the 2014 season.   Here's an interview with CJ after his successful outing in the 2013 Futures Game. 

Card wise CJ Reifenhauser has several good options out on the market for collectors to out and find.  Of course, CJ is in all the normal team issued sets from all of the different minor league he has pitched for during his time in the Tampa organization.  He also has a nice base card in the 2012 Topps Heritage Minors.  The base card, being a Topps product, has all of the usual parallels that can be found with a Topps cards. I have been looking for a copy of the black parallel, but I have not found one for a price I am happy with yet.  Soon. 

Riefenhauser also has a really relic card from his appearance in last year's Future's game.  Topps always throws a bunch of relics and patch pieces in their Bowman Draft set and Riefenhauser made the cut last year.  I have not seen any of his cards with the huge patch pieces, but the normal small relics are cool looking with the nice orange jersey piece.  

The Rays players are always really good signers at the Major League level, and since I see Riefenhauser as a Major Leaguer, I would guess we are not too far away from possibly seeing an autograph out of CJ.  Maybe in this year's Bowman set?  It would make me happy. 

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