The Marlins have announced the claim of righty Joe Gunkel off waivers from the Dodgers. He has been optioned to Double-A Jacksonville, where he’ll serve as a near-MLB-ready depth option for the Fish.
Gunkel, 25, has bounced from the Red Sox to the Orioles to the Dodgers over the past 18 months before today’s arrival in the Marlins organization. Though he’s yet to crack a Major League roster and hasn’t generated considerable prospect fanfare — he topped out as the No. 20 prospect in a weak Orioles farm system this past offseason, per Baseball America — it’s not hard to see why he’s held appeal to so many clubs.
A former 18th-round pick, Gunkel has displayed pristine control throughout his minor league career, averaging just 1.5 walks per nine innings pitched over the life of 439 1/3 frames. And, as recently as 2015, thre righty posted a combined 2.68 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9 in 144 2/3 innings between Class-A Advanced and Double-A.
In 2016, Gunkel’s ERA took a step backward (4.02), but he turned in a career-high 161 innings between Double-A and Triple-A while still showing off a staunch aversion to free passes (1.2 BB/9). Gunkel averaged 6.1 K/9 and induced grounders at a roughly 41 percent clip between those two levels. Gunkel has three minor league options remaining, meaning that he can be shuttled back and forth between the minors and Majors without first needing to clear waivers from now through the end of the 2019 campaign (if he ultimately sticks with one organization).