A Minors Obsession

Internal bullpen help from the minors: Part 1

Yesterday MLB Trade Rumors talked about how the Cincinnati Reds are the lone team in baseball that has yet to sign a Major League contract with a player for the 2017 season. I actually broke down many of the options that they looked at to see how they fit with the team, but today at Redleg Nation I thought I’d take a look at some of the internal options that the team could look at for bullpen help.

For today, we are only going to look at pitchers who are already in the bullpen and avoid speculating on starting pitchers who could transition into the bullpen. With nine pitchers to look at (relievers that are invited to spring training), we are going to break it down into two different sets. Today we will look at Wandy Peralta, Barrett Astin, Alejandro Chacin, Evan Mitchell and Nick Routt.

Wandy Peralta | LHP

The left hander saw limited action with the Cincinnati Reds in September. He averaged 96 MPH with his fastball (topped out at 98.4), showing off plus velocity for a left handed pitcher. He also showed a change up. Peralta was very strong in Pensacola (3.06 ERA, 3 walks, 20 strikeouts in 17.2 innings) before being promoted to Triple-A. With Louisville he was solid, posting a 2.33 ERA but saw his walks and strikeout rates go the wrong direction (23 walks, 38 strikeouts, 58.0 innings). His time in Cincinnati didn’t go well. He posted an 8.59 ERA in 7.1 innings with 7 walks and 5 strikeouts.

He’s a lefty, and the Reds are in need of a left hander in the bullpen to go with Tony Cingrani. However, Peralta has reverse splits as he doesn’t use a breaking ball much at all. Each of the last two seasons he’s been significantly better against right handers. He’s had some success in the upper minor leagues, but his time in Triple-A could have gone better from a strikeout-t0-walk ratio standpoint. With a strong spring he could get another look, but he will likely need to improve his showing quite a bit over what he did in Louisville and Cincinnati in the second half of 2016.

Nick Routt | LHP

Another left hander, Nick Routt is a non-roster invitee to spring training. From April 9th through June 17th he posted a 0.96 ERA in Double-A Pensacola (37.2 innings, 8 walks, 36 strikeouts). That got him promoted to Triple-A where he ran into some struggles, posting a 5.00 ERA in 18.0 innings with more walks, 13, than strikeouts, 12. He was then sent back to Pensacola for the final month of the year. The lefty performed well, allowing just one run in 12.2 innings to close out the season. After the season he went to the Arizona Fall League and he performed well out there, posting a 3.00 ERA in 12.0 innings with 3 walks and 12 strikeouts.

Routt had a dominant season overall, even with his struggles in Triple-A. The left hander was stronger against right handers than left handers during the season, but held both lefties and righties to a sub .600 OPS. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 2.5-to-1 against righties, better than his 2.0-to-1 ratio against lefties. He works in the low-90’s, mixing in both a slider and a change up. The fact that he struggled so much in his promotion to Triple-A is a bit of a concern, but if the version that was in Double-A that pounded the strikezone with nearly a 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio he could make a run at the final bullpen spot.

Barrett Astin | RHP

The Reds added Barrett Astin to the 40-man roster following the 2016 season. The then 24-year-old dominated in Double-A Pensacola. Splitting time between the rotation and bullpen he posted a 2.26 ERA in 103.1 innings with 25 walks and 96 strikeouts. He was even stronger down the stretch. From July through the end of the season, in 52.2 innings he had a 1.37 ERA with just 8 walks and 52 strikeouts.

He did show some splits on the year. He allowed 8 home run son the season and they all came against left handed hitters, who hit .222/.282/.414 with 10 walks and 40 strikeouts against him. That’s a good line on it’s own, though perhaps a bit too much power if we had to nitpick it. Right handers only hit .184/.246/.218 against him, striking out 56 times with just 15 walks. These splits were the opposite the year before, so there may just happen to be some randomness at play here, but in either case, he performed very well against both types of hitters. As a reliever, which is his future role, he throws in the 92-95 MPH range and touches higher at times. He also mixes in a slider and a change up. With his experience in 2016 working in both the bullpen and rotation he could fill the want by the Reds of mult-inning relievers.

Alejandro Chacin | RHP

Alejandro Chacin dominated as the closer for the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos in 2016. He posted a 1.78 ERA with 30 saves in 60.2 innings with just two home runs allowed. He had 26 walks (3 intentional) with 75 strikeouts. That came on the heels of a 2015 where he posted a 3.33 ERA where he had 15 walks and 72 strikeouts in 51.1 innings split between the two A-ball teams.

Chacin doesn’t overpower hitters, but he gives  a different look with a low 3/4 arm angle that lets all of his pitches get tons of movement. His fastball has some of the best movement in the organization and he mixes in a very good change up to go with a slider. He performed better against right handers than left handers in 2016, but had tons of success against both. He’s a non-roster invitee, so that will be working against him. Without any Triple-A experience he will really have to stick out in the spring, but he offers a very different look than anyone else and he’s been quite dominant in the minor leagues.

Evan Mitchell | RHP

Right hander Evan Mitchell spent most of his 2016 season in Double-A Pensacola, but it began in Advanced-A Daytona. Between the two stops he posted a 2.87 ERA in 62.2 innings. The righy allowed just two home runs all season long, had 21 walks and 50 strikeouts. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was better in Daytona, 3-to-1, than it was in Pensacola, 2.1-to-1. He lowered his walk rate with the promotion, but his strikeout rate dropped significantly in Double-A.

He showed splits in 2016. He dominated left handed hitters, holding them to a .212/.245/.263 line with just 4 walks and 19 strikeouts. Right handers didn’t do much against him, but did hit .234/.329/.297 with 17 walks and 31 strikeouts. Where Mitchell sticks out is that he has been an enormous ground ball rate pitcher, posting a 66% ground ball rate in 2016. He’s also got a big time arm, averaging 96 MPH with his fastball in the Arizona Fall League following the regular season.

From this group of pitchers, it’s certainly possible to see one of them make the team out of spring training. Barrett Astin has to be the favorite given his spot on the 40-man roster, strike throwing ability and possible multi-inning usage. With that said, every pitcher here brings something to the table to could get them a long look in the spring if they come out and perform.

41 thoughts on “Internal bullpen help from the minors: Part 1

  1. Doug, thanks for the insight.
    What about your favorite, Ariel Hernandez? He’s on the 40 -man. Do you think he has a chance to stick if he looks really good in Spring Training?

    • I’ll cover him next week. I went with the AA/AAA guys from 2016 in this one. Next week I will cover the guys that were in Advanced-A that are on the 40-man or got invites.

  2. I like Mitchell’s profile as a big time ground ball pitcher, but one who can keep hitters honest with the fastball. Astin’s relative lack of strikeouts concerns me since you can expect that number to fall when he reaches the majors. It goes without saying that Chacin has been a fave of mine, still stewing that he didn’t get a look-see in September over the likes of Ohlendorf and Cingrani, but his time will come. A poor man’s Sergio Romo methinks.

    • and with that kind of delivery, great arm to have in the mix. Our pen is pretty vanilla, so to have a guy like Raisel really can put the hurt on another team as we saw in the second half

      Now to have 2 of them, that could just be fun

  3. I like Chacin just because he pitches with a low 3/4 arm angle, a different look for the batters to see. FYI, I saw today where Ross Ohlendorf signed With Japan’s Yakult Swallows.

    Doug – Thanks very much for the update. Always appreciate your great info on the Reds’ Farm System.

  4. With the reds’ proven inability to throw strikes, I think spring training bullpen tryouts should be held little league style:

    Zip tie a row of paper plates to the chain link fence. Whoever can hit the plate the most gets to pitch this year

  5. As things stands now, 3/7 of the bullpen is set with Iglesias, Cingrani and Lorenzen. Other four spots open for anyone to reach out of spring training, shall be fun.

    • According to Bryan Price, Iglesias, Lorenzen, Cingrani and Wood are virtual locks for the bullpen in 2017.

      Cingrani, in no way, should be a lock, though. Nor should Wood. Competition is good, but only if you’ve got good options. Hoping the Reds do, but not convinced they’ll do much to go outside of the organization to grab anyone of actual use.

      • Any report of anything changing for Cingrani, I know the GADGY post generated comments including a lot to cut him. But he had a decent run during the summer, save for one meltdown in St. Louis and then a horrible September. I would think he was tired, completing his first full ML season w/o injury. But I notice the K rate dropped significantly (and we all know the BB rate has to improve)

        • Tony Cingrani went out to Washington (the state) to train with the guys at Driveline (where Dan Straily went, as well as many other big leagues). He worked on developing a cutter while out there to give him another look. We will see how it worked out when the season rolls around. Hopefully it helps.

  6. Hearing Reds close to signing Drew Storen as closer, unless Dodgers step in and throw more money his way to add him to their pen, but only set up role for Dodgers. Look for Storen to sign with Reds

    • I got a feeling this will be a bad signing as he probably is not worth the 8 million or so he made and would suspect he is going to get more than that despite coming off a terrible year

    • Yeah, a spotty closer should put us over the top. I feel bad for Cubs fans if we sign Storen for $16 million over 2 years. That’s a 2 year window Cubs can’t possibly win.

    • Hope not, not unless it’s one year deal and a bargain ($5 or 6 million tops). Lipstick on a pig when rotation is going to be another below average season (young guys, injuries, no real ace or SP2, etc).

  7. Well, you make me think these guys could help out a lot!! P.S. Picking up Storen might be good if this were not still a rebuild year. Watched him in DC…I think he got a bad rap there.

      • No a sign of he lost his control, so when he doesn’t have command of pitches, he lowers his velocity thinking he’ll find his command. He’s not injured, just threw lights out pen

    • And if the Reds want to take a chance on a guy, why not a Joe Smith? That would cost a whole lot less.

    • But, but we are just one 60 inning pitcher away from 108-54 record. Those 60 innings are big, HUGE!

      ;^)

  8. I wonder if Storen might take a slight near-hometown discount since he’s from Indy? I don’t feel good about him but atleast that would seem to signal that either Raisel or Lorenzen (or both?) will be going back to the rotation.

  9. Good info Doug. None of these guys look like a lock, but they all seem to have promise. I agree with the consensus that someone needs to step up and perform in AZ and Cincinnati, but with these five plus a few more options, the odds seem good that one or two or three will do just that. It’s so much more satisfying to see a group of prospects looking to improve and make a difference than a pile of retreads searching for past glory. That gets old fast, and we saw how well that worked early last year.

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