A reliever for any situation

Unpredictability is a given for Bryan Longpre when making the brief jog from the bullpen to the pitcher's mound. That's life being a relief pitcher, something Longpre doesn't forget while staring into his catcher for a sign before uncorking his first pitch.

Whether the bases are empty or loaded, it's Longpre's time to step up and retire hitters. No matter the situation, he's ready to squelch a potential rally by an opponent, whether in the United States or Canada.

"You love the different situations you are brought into," said Longpre, now a member of the Vancouver Canadians of the Class-A Short Season Northwest League. "It's about going out there and being able to grind it out.

"I embrace the grind and I just go out there and keep my head down and concentrate on getting people out. As a reliever, you never know what you are going to encounter. So, you have to be ready for anything to happen."

He's had no problem embracing any situation assigned to him. For Longpre, a right-hander who graduated from Crescenta Valley High in 2005 and Cal State Northridge in 2009, it's about mixing up his pitches and using pinpoint accuracy to record outs.

Longpre has already had his share of success with Vancouver, an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

He's modest about his brief body of work, while, at the same time, hoping to possibly don a Major League Baseball uniform. Through Sunday, Longpre is 3-2 with two saves and a tidy 0.73 earned-run average. In 13 appearances, he's struck out 22 and walked eight in 24 2/3 innings for Vancouver (25-19).

"Here in Vancouver, they treat you like you are in the big leagues," said Longpre, who was signed as a free agent by Toronto last year before being assigned to the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in Florida. "I do not want to get too far ahead of myself.

"It's a slow process and I have to remember that. You are going to have your times when you are struggling and then things go great for you. I've developed a routine for myself where I'm throwing every day. Mostly, it's long tossing, but I also run every day because you always have to be prepared."

Longpre gained experience while toiling in the Florida humidity last year. Less than two months after signing a free-agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays organization, Longpre earned his first promotion.

Longpre went 1-1 with eight saves and a 3.63 ERA with the Gulf Coast Jays. In 15 appearances, he struck out 18 and allowed 11 runs (seven earned) in 17 1/3 innings.

After spending most of the summer playing for Gulf Coast Blue Jays, Longpre, a former All-Area player, was assigned to Dunedin, a Class-A advanced team in the Florida State League. At Dunedin, Longpre finished 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA. In three appearances totaling 5 2/3 innings, Longpre struck out eight and walked two, allowed six hits.

Longpre's body of work drew the attention of first-year Vancouver Manager John Schneider, who served in the same capacity with the Gulf Coast Blue Jays last season.

"He's a jack-of-all-trades for us," Schneider said. "When I had him [in Florida], you could see that he's fearless.

"I could put him in any type of situation. A reliever needs to be in certain kinds of situations. It's about grinding it out and he's done exactly what he's needed to do. He takes his job seriously, on and off the field, and that's a reflection of the results he's gotten."

Longpre has done that while working with Vancouver pitching coach Jim Czajkowski. His overall improved mechanics and command have been huge assets for Longpre.

He earned a brief promotion from Vancouver to the Lansing Lugnuts, a member of the Midwest League in Class-A , in late-June. He made two appearances with Lansing, giving up four runs and five hits in two innings before rejoining Vancouver on July 7.

"That was a great experience with Lansing, to see where I would be," Longpre said. "I had a short stint with them and I'd like to make it back there with them again."

Longpre came back to Vancouver and continued to get the job done.

Vancouver second baseman Jon Berti said Longpre had become a model closer for the Canadians.

"He comes into games usually calm and cool and he just attacks the strike zone," said Berti, who is batting .331 with 16 stolen bases in 37 contests. "He's come in all kinds of situations and we are confident he can do the job.

"He's been a great teammate, on and off, the field."

Longpre proved that during Vancouver's 4-2 victory against the visiting Boise Hawks on July 13. Longpre went two innings, striking out three and allowing one hit against the seven batters he faced.

In a road game against the Spokane Indians on July 11, Longpre once again showed his versatility out of the bullpen. He came in relief of starting pitcher Taylor Cole in the bottom of the fifth inning with Vancouver clinging to a 7-5 lead. Longpre pitched a pair of scoreless innings, yielding four hits and striking out two to pick up the victory.

"The coaches have a lot of confidence in me," said Longpre, who pitched three innings to earn the win in Vancouver's 9-5 road win on Friday against the Tri-City Dust Devils. "I appreciate getting the ball in any kind of situation.

"At the end of the day, it's about making pitches and getting outs."

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World