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Monday, March 16, 2015

Prospecting Reds Pitchers with Steamer (2015)

Continuing my look at 2015 Reds prospects, here are Steamer projections for Reds top pitching prospects.  Here is the 2015 hitter prospects post, and here is my 2014 post on Reds pitching prospects.

The Reds are pitcher-heavy in their prospects, with a good number of both top-tier and mid-range prospects who could be ready for promotion in the next 12 to 18 months.

Age-25 Pitchers

Raisel Iglesias was signed last year after defecting from Cuba.  He has always been a relief pitcher, but the Reds think his four pitches can make him an effective starting pitcher.  He pitched as a starter in the Arizona Fall League, which, aside from this year's Spring Training, has been his only professional work in the United States.  Ideally, he will work out as a starter.  But at the same time, he's already 25, his stuff may be MLB ready in a relief role, and if he throws all season as a starter he will likely have a low inning limit.  Therefore, there's a lot of talk that he might pitch out of the Reds' bullpen most of the year.  I'm still hoping that they get him some starting experience later this season, but I'm ok with him being a reliever for some of the year.

Update 45 minutes after posting: news from the Reds today has Iglesias getting the nod as a starter over Tony Cingrani.  I'm surprised, but it is nice to see Iglesias being taken seriously as a potential starting pitcher.  Whether he'll be starting in Cincinnati or Louisville remains to be seen.

Age-24 Pitchers

Anthony DeScalfani was acquired in the Mat Latos trade, and seems very likely to break camp in the Reds' rotation.  While he might not have Tony Cingrani's ceiling, I'm pretty comfortable with DeSclafani as the Reds' #5 pitcher this year, and hope he gets that chance.

Age-23 Pitchers

This is an interesting group.  David Holmberg seemed to take a step back last year, at least early in the season, when he reportedly showed up to spring training out of shape and overweight.  He made a late-season appearance for the Reds, however, and held his own nicely.  He's down the pecking order a bit in terms of rotation jobs, but as a lefty there is always a chance that he might be asked to throw out of the bullpen this year.  Nevertheless, he's young enough, given his accomplishments, that he might still find his way into the rotation.

A few years ago, Daniel Corcino was among the most heralded of the Reds pitching prospects.  Unfortunately, regressed badly since then, and seems to be moving toward a career in the bullpen.  As a strong arm out of the pen, he does still have a shot at being a quality middle reliever, but I don't hold out a lot of hope that he'll ever provide a lot of value in the rotation.

Daniel Wright was a 2013 draftee out of Arkansas State University, and last year was his first season in as a full-time starter in professional baseball, and had a really nice 6.6 k/bb ratio (8.2 k/9, 1.2 bb/9).  He's a bit behind the others in terms of level, but should be in Pensacola at least some time this season.

Age-22 Pitchers

This is a big group, and represents a big chunk of the core of the Reds' pitching talent in the minors.  Jon Moscot is the polished, low ceiling, high-floor guy, who easily could find himself in the big leagues this year.

Michael Lorenzen has been skyrocketing up the depth charts since he converted to a starting pitcher just two years ago, and reports out of spring training have been ridiculous (sitting 97-98 mph in relief, and wowing Bryan Price).  He, also, is being talked about as a potential reliever for the Reds this season.  Unlike Iglesias, Lorenzen has age on his side, and I personally see little reason to start his service time clock early.  If I was confident that the Reds have the organizational will to move a pitcher back into the rotation after having strong success in the bullpen, I might think differently.  But I just don't trust them to do it.

Amir Garrett, a former two-sport player, has quit basketball and is now focusing on baseball full-time.  He's making strides as a result.  Nick Howard and recently-acquired Jonathon Crawford are both 1st-round draft picks with good performances behind them so far.  And for some reason, Steamer didn't make a projection for Wyatt Strahan, but he, along with passed-through-waivers Ismael Guillon, is distantly behind the other guys in this group.

Age-21 Pitchers

Robert Stephenson struggled for the first time last season, showing a big spike in his walk rate as he apparently tried to harness his command and pitch selection.  Most talent evaluators didn't seem particularly worried, however, given the quality of his stuff and his reputation as a smart, hard-working guy.  For what it's worth, neither does Steamer: despite just now entering his age-21 season, and only reaching AA, Stephenson got the best ERA projection among all Reds prospects.  The #2 guy, DeSclafani, is slated to be in the Reds rotation to start the year.  Here's hoping he rebounds well this year and is pitching in Cincinnati by the fall.

Age-20 Pitchers

Here are two pitchers who made huge strides last year.  Nick Travieso was the Reds' 1st-round selection in 2012 out of high school, but it wasn't until last year, when he repeated with Dayton, that he really put together numbers that would justify that selection.  He's still not posting outstanding strikeout numbers, but the scouting reports seem very strong, and I'm seeing reports that his velocity is inching back up.

Sal Romano, who was also in the Dayton rotation last year, took a similar step forward, with even better peripherals than Travieso.  As a result, he shot up the prospect rankings, and is now seen as something of a sleeper.  Both are still very young, and provide some much-needed depth in the lower minors for Reds pitching.

Age-19 Pitchers

Tyler Mahle has appeared at the bottom of this post two years running now.  He's not getting a lot of attention, but he posted great peripherals out of Billings' rotation last year (4.7 k/bb, 8.3 k/9), and might be throwing in the midwest league next year as a 19-year old (like Travieso and Romano did last year).  He'll be one to watch.