Pitchers and catchers report in three-and-a-half weeks. Let’s say that again: Three-and-a-half-weeks!

There are two pitchers who would seem to be locks to make the Cincinnati Reds rotation heading into 2016. Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias, short of injuries, will take up two of the rotation spots. After those two spots, things are absolutely wide open. When Homer Bailey returns he will join the rotation, but until then there are three spots open in the rotation.

How those three spots shake out, and to a lesser extent, if any of those guys that lose out wind up in the bullpen, is a big story heading into spring training. Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, Jon Moscot, Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson are the likely candidates, at least from the minor league side of things.

Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson are long shots from that group. Neither has any big league experience and Reed has never thrown a pitch in Triple-A. At the same time, they have the two best arms from that group despite the inexperience. Not wanting to start the service time clock could play against them making the team out of spring training, but if either of them is pitching lights out stranger things have happened than bringing one of them north with the team.

In the bullpen it would seem that Tony Cingrani, Jumbo Diaz and JJ Hoover are pretty much in as the only returning players. There are tons of options here, Carlos Contreras, Caleb Cotham, Dayan Diaz, Drew Hayes, Chris O’Grady, JC Ramirez, Kevvius Sampson, Layne Somsen, Pedro Villarreal and Blake Wood are all competing for a spot. That of course doesn’t include the guys who miss out on the rotation who could slide into the bullpen.

Perhaps the most intriguing name for the bullpen isn’t even listed above. While the Reds are looking at Brandon Finnegan as a starter, he’s excelled at times in the bullpen in his short career. If he doesn’t make the rotation, would the Reds use him to fill out the bullpen, or will they send him to Louisville to continue working as a starter?

Another very interesting name is Blake Wood. Who is Blake Wood? He’s a 30-year-old who has pitched in a grand total of 7.2 innings in the big leagues since the 2012 season began, but the right hander has a big time arm that’s capable of reaching triple digits. He’s certainly not young, but he has that Jumbo Diaz feeling to him with big time arm strength and good minor league numbers that could take that step forward and become quite useful.

The 2016 season doesn’t look like it’s going to be an overly good one for the Cincinnati Reds, but if there’s one thing that they can say is that there will be a whole lot of interesting arms to look at in spring training and throughout the season. A lot of them may be new faces to those who don’t follow the minor leagues all that closely, but there are some real arms out there for the team to look at and fill out the pitching staff.

Join the conversation! 31 Comments

  1. What about Michael Lorenzen?

    • Not really a minor leaguer. Spent a large majority of 2015 in the big leagues. This was more focused on the minor leaguers.

  2. Enjoy your work. Also think you missed on Lorenzen. Imagine a young pitcher with a live arm who had command issues early in his career. Not a novel concept.
    Stephenson dominated in majority of starts at AAA. He will throw 50 more innings than he did last year. By June they will be in Cincinnati.
    The guy you flip in July for controllable bats is DeScalfini if he continues to pitch well.

    • Didn’t miss him at all. Just consider him a big leaguer at this point. He’s got no rookie eligibility left. He spent almost all of 2015 in the big leagues.

      • makes sense. still thinking anybody who does not probably own a razor a minors guy.

  3. I am enjoying the daily articles on mlb.com about ten top prospects at each position. feel heartened after first five days.
    RHP- Stephenson
    LHP Reed and Garrett
    C Tyler Stephenson
    2b- Peraza and Blandino.

  4. Three spots go to Iglesias, DeSclafani, and Lamb. Two more to the mix of Lorenzen, Finnegan, and Moscot… three really young guys, one with limited starting experience, another who missed half of 2015. Those three final guys would probably all be helped by more time in AAA.

    Sign Arroyo, or another veteran. Somebody who can hold a rotation spot until a younger candidate distinguishes himself in Louisville. Keeping the younger guys from being rushed is in the Reds’ best interest.

  5. if Finnegan and Lorenzen don’t make a rotation spot, I think Reds would best off having them pitch in AAA as starters, joining Reed and Stephenson down there.

    • Definitely.

    • I would tend to agree. If the situation were that the Reds really wanted to put out the best team possible in 2016, then perhaps one or both could work in the pen. If the situation is ‘rebuild for the future’ and ‘develop our pitching’, then the prudent move would be to have them working as starters either at MLB or in AAA until one or both prove they aren’t really starter material.

    • Agreed. Lorenzen needs to work on a few things. Finding the strike zone being a primary concern. He’ll need that even if the bullpen is in his future. He also could use an out pitch, as he’s never been a bit K guy even with the high velocity. And as with all young pitchers, he could develop his secondary offerings to be more usable. He dominated AAA in the short amount of time he was there. It seems like it could be a good environment for him to build some confidence while working on making improvements.

      Finnegan simply needs some stability. He was jerked around too much last year due to the Royals being in contention. I would like to see him build up innings and get used to starting every 5th day. If it were up to me he’s the one I’d slot into the rotation though, until Bailey returns. That way he can gain some experience starting at the major league level and have a good frame of reference for what he needs to work on, or what works well for him as a starter. Then move him back to AAA and allow him to get to work as he builds up innings.

      The bullpen will be there for both of them in the future, if that’s where their future lies. No need to waste service and development time in the 2016 bullpen.

  6. The real story is not which of the four young guys make the rotation in April. It’s which of the opening five pitch well enough to stay in the rotation after Bailey returns and after Stephenson and Reed get called-up. Those are your 1-2-3 starters for 2017, and this year is all about sorting out which of the other 6 guys earns spots 4 and 5. There’s no guarantee that it’s Iglesias and DeSclafani long term.

    I agree with Doug that Finnegan’s an intriguing idea for the bullpen. That’s shaping up to be a strength again after being such a mess last year.

  7. I’m not a whiz with options, call-ups and send-downs, but none of these guys will throw more than 120-150 innings right? Except RI and AD maybe. Should be plenty of MLB innings to get everyone enough starts. 162 games = 16 starts for 10 pitchers. That oughta do it right? If you’re not starting at MLB level, you’re either over innings and done, or on a bus to make your next scheduled start at AAA. Bad plan?

    • I don’t think an innings limit will be much of a factor, especially not until Sept, at which point rosters expand and guys get shut down normally. But Disco is good to go a full season, and Bailey should be able to finish the season once he gets started. Then from there:

      Moscot should be able to go a full season. He’s built up the innings over the course of his minor league time. Moscot pitched 166 innings in 2014. Fortunately, the shoulder he injured wasn’t his pitching shoulder. So there shouldn’t be any set backs from injury to his pitching arm.

      Lamb threw 111 innings last year and 138 the year before. Typically pitchers can add 30-40 innings per year w/o issue, often times more. I would say 150 is well within his ability.

      Lorenzen threw 156 innings between AAA and Reds. So he should be pretty close to throwing a full (MLB) season.

      Iglesias only threw 124 innings last year between AAA and Reds. He and Lamb should be in the same boat, likely being capped around 160 or so.

      Finnegan would be the one that hasn’t really built up many innings due to being pulled back and forth to the bullpen and rotation. If my math is right, it looks like he pitched about 95 innings last year in about 5 different stops.

  8. Not wanting to start the service clock will factor in tremendously this year but I hope it doesn’t create to big of a problem.With such a surplus of pitching I hope all get a chance at some level and lets not tag guys as being ready this year or that year just because we can.This year should be used as the year to find out about all of them and if they figure in to the long term plan.Spring training is the time to find out what these guys can do and by that I mean pitch them against big league lineups and not against guys that are ticketed for the minors.Our pitching is a strength so lets find out how much of a strength it really is.

  9. With the Reds plethora of young untested pitching, I hope the front office will not crowd the roster with over-the-hill pitching like they did last year. After all, the consensus is 2016 is a reboot/rebuild year with the Reds having no chance for the playoffs.

  10. So if we’re making predictions on who starts the season in the rotation and who ends the season there, I’d go with:

    Start of season
    Iglesias, DeSclafani, Lorenzen, Lamb & Finnegan

    End of season
    Bailey, Iglesias, DeSclafani, Stephenson, Reed
    with Cingrani, Hoover, Jumbo, Lorenzen and Finnegan the core of the bullpen
    and Garrett in AAA as next in line for the rotation

  11. Here is another DFA youngish (25YO) OF the Reds might want to take a look at:

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2016/01/mets-darrell-ceciliani-dfa.html

    Cecilliani was DFAed to make room for the Cespedes re-signing which is going official at this point. He had big AAA offensive numbers PCL not so good with the Metz in 2015 but only ~75 PAs. However he also looks to be a plus defender.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cecilda01.shtml

    • Ceciliani would be a very nice pick up. A nice LH hitter who is coming into his own with the Mets.
      LJ Hoes (RH) is another recent OF DFA casualty.

  12. The Reds aren’t in contention this year, so putting the best arms in the rotation should not be the strategy. The strategy needs to see Iglesias, DeSclafani, Stephenson, Reed, Garrett, Mella and Travieso come up together as closely as possible so that their service times coincide, e.g. NY Mets. The Reds should want to keep the young rotation intact for as long as possible, and if that means holding guys back even if those guys are MLB ready while trotting out vets on one year minor league fliers for a year, then they absolutely should. The same goes for position players. Hopefully, this fan base is smart enough to know that 2016 is only a wasted year if the club fails to set itself up for 2017 and beyond.

    • So they all are in line for FA deals at the same time like the last batch of starters? No thanks.

    • Reed , Amir Garrett, Mella and Travieso are at least a year away, maybe two. There is no reason to rush them all up. If one has a standout year (and I think that would be Garrett), then maybe he sees the Bigs in September.
      I also see John Lamb as getting an almost sure starter position, because he is the most likely to get traded for an offensive player, as Cody Reed and Amir Garrett are right behind him, and probably more talented.

      • Garrett is a tricky situation due to his development being slowed by his past involvement with NCAA D1 basketball. He had to go onto the 40 man roster last off season to be protected from Rule 5 exposure; and, thus has already burned an option. At the latest, he has to be in the majors in 2018 or face waivers. However the other side of the coin is that Garrett has never pitched above A+/ high A. He will start this year in AA. The question will be whether he moves past some other people to AAA (and possibly MLB) or whether they program him to use both remaining option years in preparation for MLB in 2018.

        By comparison, Reed pitched in AA last season and still isn’t on the 40 man. I’ve seen some talk that they might actually start him back at AA this season despite his dominating performance at AA after he came to the Reds org in the Cueto trade. On the other hand, I’ve also read several sources who believe that after Stephenson, Reed is the most likely to end up in MLB (prior to Sept) in 2016.

        If Reed picks up where he left off, I would not be surprised to see Garrett end up as a major piece in a trade to get the Reds the type of “can’t miss” offensive position player they were unable to land in the Frazier or Chapman deals.

      • I wasn’t suggesting that they be rushed. I was suggesting that the other guys be held back.

  13. Cody Reed is going to have a fantastic spring training.
    However, if the Reds are smart (?), then they will do the same thing the Cubs did with Kris Bryant with Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson. That is where Moscot and Lamb will be important. Reed and Stephenson won’t be on the Opening Day roster unless a bout of injuries occur in spring training. But by April 30, at least one of those two will be called up. And if Bailey’s return is going to be delayed some, the other could get the call by then too.
    This service clock issue with what happened to Bryant last April will most likely be dealt with in some fashion in the new CBA. Reds should take advantage of it while that rule is still on the books.

  14. Getting to know your enemy. What the Cubs are and might be doing with International Free Agents this year. Reds need to step up their IFA signings. Many of the Cubs young signees are now rising up through their minor league system. Theo and the Cubs have done a tremendous job in this area.
    Are the Reds in on Lazarito? He’ll probably sign by Feb. 10th. Several of the other Cubans haven’t been declared free agents yet by MLB like Lazarito has.

    https://cubscentral.wordpress.com/tag/norge-ruiz/

    • Isn’t there the whole problem that the Reds blew their budget on Roderiguez a few weeks ago?

      • Yes, and no. AlfRod hasn’t officially been announced as a signing, so the Reds may be waiting until that July 2 date for the new signing period, so he won’t be included on this year’s tab. But then again, if he is announced before July 2, the Reds could spend over their limit amount, but pay MLB the $ for $ overage of this year’s limit.

  15. As an addendum to reading positive things about the Reds’ future, check out the Cincinnati Prospect list article on Fangraphs by Dan Farnsworth from 29 January … you’ll find it down on the lower right hand side of the page … it gives one hope.

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