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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Prospecting Reds Pitchers with Oliver

Continuing along with what we began with hitters last week, today we turn our attention to Reds pitching prospects through the lens of Oliver!

Age-23 Pitchers

Chad Rogers is the oldest pitcher on the top-40 list at 23 years, and also only one of two who reached AAA last season.  Rogers split the year between Pensacola and Louisville.  After his promotion, his strikeout rate tailed off a bit, though his walk rate actually improved.  Might be a control-first, modest stuff kind of guy, which would fit the projection.  I haven't heard much about him, but given how quickly he was cut in spring training, I don't think he ranks very highly on the Reds' depth chart right now.  If he can perform at something like his prior level, however, he might end up throwing in the big leagues later this season.

Age-22 Pitchers

Daniel Corcino has been advancing at one level per year the last several years.  He was brilliant in 2011, and still posted good overall numbers in 2012, but then seemed to fall apart last season.  I remember hearing reports that his mechanics were all out of whack, to the degree that one can imagine that the only thing that might help could be time away.  There were warning signs in 2012, however: promoted to AA, he saw a huge drop in his k/9 rate (10.1 k/9 to 7.9) and a scary increase in his walk rate (2.2 bb/9 to 4.1 bb/9).  2013 was really just more incremental declines in performance at AAA, with his strikeout rate dropping by almost 2 per nine, and his walk rate increasing all the way to 5 bb/9.  All one can hope is that he figures it out, because the stuff is supposed to be excellent.

Carlos Contreras projects with a line that is quite similar, but he was working at Bakersfield and Pensacola rather than Louisville last season.  A recent convert to the rotation, his strikeout rate took a huge hit when he was promoted mid-season to AA.

Age-21 Pitchers

Lots of solid-looking prospects in this age group, spanning rookie ball through AA last year.

While I've not been blown away by David Holmberg's minor league numbers, and while he might not really be ready for the big leagues just yet, he does project as having the best MLB ERA of any Reds prospect right now.  The reports are that he's a high-floor, low-ceiling kind of guy, and that's something the Reds could most definitely use.

Ben Lively ranks right with him on the prospect charts, but as a 2013 college draftee, he has only pitched 4 innings above rookie ball.  Still, his performance last season was amazing.  If he continues to dominate this year, I'd think that he could be promoted aggressively.

Michael Lorenzen, another 2013 draftee, is interesting because he split time between pitching and the outfield last season.  He converted to starting in the Arizona Fall League last year (with rather terrible results) after impressing as a reliever during the regular season across four(!) different Reds affiliates.  Now no longer working as a position player, we'll see if he can figure out starting this season.  If not, he seems like the kind of guy who could e promoted quickly.

The last I'll mention in this group is Jon Moscot.  He posted really nice strikeout and walk numbers last year in Bakersfield, and didn't show much drop-off in a short stint at Pensacola.  He seems to have been hurt by the long ball thus far, though I do wonder how much of that could be related to throwing in Bakersfield (as I remember, it's a homer-friendly park?).  In any case, this is a big year for him.  With a strong showing in AA this year (where I'm guessing he'll begin the year), he could be in line for a mid-season promotion to Louisville.  Tony Blengino likes him.

Age-20 Pitchers

The only age-20 pitcher in the Reds' top 40 is deserving of his own category.  Ever since being drafted in 2011, Robert Stephenson has done nothing but impress.  He made it all the way to AA last season, posting good strikeout numbers and (usually) good control across three stops as he toured through the minors.  He did get a bit wild in AA, but I'm not going to fret over 16 innings.  Oliver seems concerned about his home run rate, but that figure is way higher than the other systems: Steamer has him at 1.09 hr/9, and ZIPS has him at 1.43 hr/9.  It wouldn't be surprising if he is a fly ball pitcher given his power, and if he can keep his strikeout numbers up I am not worried about the home runs.  He might not be ready for the big leagues just yet, but with a good year, he can certainly be debuting with the Reds this fall, and competing for a rotation gig next spring.  He's easily the guy that I'm most excited about in the Reds' farm right now.

Age-19 Pitchers

As good as Stephenson has been, Nick Travieso (drafted in 2012) has been a pretty big disappointment thus far.  It took a long time for him to make it out of instructional leagues, and thus far he's shown good control but little else.  Marc Hulet still likes him, but reports lost velocity vs. high school and extreme fly ball tendencies.  I'd like to see his strikeout numbers shoot up a fair bit before I get excited about him.

Age-18 Pitchers

Included for completeness.  Tyler Mahle was a 7th round pick last summer, and posted a good season while splitting time between starting and relief.

So, what Reds pitchers in the minors are you most excited about?  Who am I misjudging here, or who have I overlooked?

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