A Minors Obsession

Internal bullpen help from the minors: Part 2

Last week we looked at some options from the organization that could help the 2017 Cincinnati Reds bullpen. We took a look at the pitchers who will be in spring training who were relievers in Double-A or Triple-A last season. If you missed out on that be sure to check it out.

Today we will take a look at the pitchers who were relievers that will be in spring training but spent their time in Advanced-A. That group includes Ariel Hernandez, Ismael Guillon and Jimmy Herget. We won’t be looking at pitchers who are starters, or are planned on being used as starters (Vladimir Gutierrez).

Ismael Guillon | LHP

The left hander was dominant for the Daytona Tortugas in 2016. He posted a 2.41 ERA in 93.1 innings during the 2016 campaign. The lefty had 39 walks and 116 strikeouts during the year, and allowed 10 home runs. That was good enough to get the will be 25-year-old (February 13) an invitation to spring training as a non-roster invitee. He split time between the rotation and the bullpen, making 13 starts and 19 relief appearances. He filled in well as a starter when needed, but will be a reliever in the future.

The lefty absolutely dominated other left handers, holding them to a .133/.233/.222 line with 11 walks and 31 strikeouts over 104 plate appearances. He also only allowed one home run, on double and two triples in that span. Right handers performed a little better, hitting .174/.275/.342 with 28 walks and 85 strikeouts in 255 plate appearances. Righties showed more power though, hitting six doubles, two triples and nine home runs.

He’s got plenty of stuff to work with, including one of the best change ups in all of minor league baseball. He’s battled control problems in the past, and he’s been very inconsistent throughout his career – basically alternating good and bad seasons. The Reds are in need of a left hander to add to their bullpen, but it’s a real big jump from Advanced-A to the big leagues. He’s got big league stuff, but I’d bet he will see time in the upper minor leagues before seeing time in the Majors. With a good season, the second half of 2017 could be an option.

Jimmy Herget | RHP

Another reliever who was simply dominant for the Daytona Tortugas in 2016. Jimmy Herget served as the closer, racking up 24 saves in 50 games pitched. The right hander posted a 1.78 ERA in 60.2 innings with 22 walks and 83 strikeouts. After being drafted in 2015 he’s already gotten an invite to big league camp as a non-roster invitee.

The now 23-year-old had an ERA under 2.90 in all five months of the minor league season during 2016. There weren’t any lulls in performance throughout the year as he was dominant all year long. He did perform better against right handers, who hit just .197/.265/.268 against him during the year with 11 walks and 54 strikeouts in 155 plate appearances. Left handers managed to hit .226/.316/.298 with 11 walks and 29 strikeouts in 97 plate appearances.

He’s got plenty of stuff, including two above-average offerings to work with. Herget also knows how to work hitters, changing arm angles, pace to the plate and he’s generally a strike thrower. He’s had no upper minor league experience, so like Guillon, it would be surprising to see him make the team out of spring training. But, his stuff is strong and past performance suggest he could move quickly and possibly be ready to help in the second half of the season.

Ariel Hernandez | RHP

The right handed pitcher has come further along than anyone in the system has in the last year. A year ago he was a forgotten about Triple-A Rule 5 pick (not to be confused with the MLB version of the Rule 5). He had never had any success outside the Dominican Summer League. His walk rate was over a batter per inning pitched since he had turned 18-years-old. He first caught my eye in spring training, showing off some of the best pure stuff I have ever seen. And yes, I really do mean that.

He then went out and dominated for both the Dayton Dragons and the Daytona Tortugas in 2016. Between his two stops he posted a 2.18 ERA in 62.0 innings. His walk rate was still high, walking 39 batters on the season. That was still a massive improvement over anything he had ever done in the past and it came at levels he had never played at before. He also struck out 74 batters.  Hernandez dominated both lefties and righties – holding both to a sub .450 OPS on the year. With that said, he was far better against right handers when we dive deeper – walking 16 batters with 47 strikeouts. Left handers had 23 walks and 27 strikeouts against him in 107 plate appearances. The combination of his stuff, his step forward and his performance earned him a spot on the 40-man roster following the season.

With his history of control problems and lack of upper minor league experience, like the others, it’s highly unlikely to see him join the club out of spring training. Expect him to join the other two in Double-A to begin the year, and if he takes another step forward there’s a chance we could see him in the second half of the season in Cincinnati.

These three guys all show above-average stuff, and their performances were dominant in 2016. They all lack that upper minor league experience that puts them a little bit behind the group we talked about last week on the depth chart, at least heading into spring training. It’s generally unheard of to see guys jump from Advanced-A to the Majors without spending time at Double-A or Triple-A. The last guy I can think of who did that was Jose Fernandez. These guys all have the ability to turn heads and get people talking, but I’d expect the Reds to take more of a “long term play” on all of them and give them a taste of big league spring training before sending them to minor league camp to prepare for the start of the Double-A season.

10 thoughts on “Internal bullpen help from the minors: Part 2

  1. These three look like the quintessential high upside prospects to me. All seem to have great potential, but with the possible exception of Herget, have a lot of work to do to make it to Cincinnati. Guillon at 25 needs to show better control and consistency, against better competition, or he’ll start to run out of time. Hernandez is impressive, but that walk rate needs to get a lot better. It makes me wonder who is the Reds go to guy for coaching on mechanics and control. Of the three I think Herget looks most promising based on his age, development, skill set and results. But if any of these three can eventually bring the “dominant” to Cincinnati I’d consider that a win. But I guess that’s how it works with young pitchers like this – load up on enough good arms so that some of them succeed in the long run. One would be great, all three practically miraculous.

  2. All 3 have big bullpen potential. Hopefully Hernandez will be at AAA and just a phone call away. I hope we get to see Hernandez at some point in 2017.

  3. With Guillon, we might have a late bloomer a la Liriano. Might be a good thing that he’s older and more in tune with his body. Could be a situation where he won’t need a couple years in the majors to find himself but instead is a finished product when he arrives. Very encouraging.

    Hernandez is very impressive. I’ll tolerate the high walk rate if the K rate is on the upper end of the spectrum. Sooo much downward movement on everything. Filthy.

  4. Nothing on the Tyrell Jenkins and Richie Shaffer pick ups last Friday? The Tyrell Jenkins pick up might be a good one. Shaffer might possibly be that RH bat off the bench, that GM Dick Williams was allegedly looking for.
    What is your take on these 2 pick ups?

    • My mistake. Jenkins already put on waivers by Reds and claimed by SD. Easy come easy go. Jenkins was picked up by Reds Dec. 23 not 30, like I thought. This is one they probably shouldn’t have let get away so quickly.

  5. Ariel Hernandez has a wicked overhand curve. With that and his fastball, it is enough to be a good reliever in the ML. Maybe the light just goes on with some of these guys, as they struggle with control in the low minors.
    Herget threw some kind of slider against the Left hand batter he faced in the clip that just looked un-hittable. He doesn’t throw as hard as Guillon and Hernandez, but control and movement count for a lot.

  6. Piggy-Backing off Chad’s post regarding optimism, this is reason the Old Cossack is itching for pitchers and catchers to report this season. With the injuries to the pitching staff last season, the season was lost for all intents and purposes. Everyone knows how historically- bad the bullpen performed in 2016. The bullpen will be better by leaps and bounds in 2017 and that in iself provides reason for optimism, even though I don’t expect the bullpen to be a major positive cog for the team performance in 2017. We will not see Hoover, Melville, Simon or Ohlendorf coming in from the bullpen during 2017 and that represents some serious addition by subtraction.

    Iglesias, Lorenzen, Diaz, Wood and Cingrani appear to be virtual locks for the bullpen coming out of spring training, leaving only 2 probable bullpen slots available to begin the season. Not a single one of those 5 pitchers had an ERA over 4.5 during the horrendous 2016 season. Bailey, DeSclafani, Finnegan and Straily are almost certainly going to begin the season as starters on the 25-man roster, leaving only 1 probable starting slot available to begin the season.

    That leaves a lot of potential arms waiting for an opportunity for next man up when someone falters in the bullpen or starting rotation. Every pitcher invited to spring training becomes a candidate to fill a roll on the 25-man roster as the season progresses. Guillon, Herget & Hernandez will begin the season trying to prove that their development and success will carry forward in the upper minor league levels as they take on AA hitters. Peralta will try to build on his bullpen success at AAA from 2016 while Routt, Chacin, Astin and Mitchell will try to translate their AA bullpen success from 2016 into success at AAA. Stephenson, Reed, Garrett, Davis, Mella, Stephens, Mahle, Travieso, Romano & Addleman will be competing for starting slots on the 25-man roster and AAA roster with twice as many candidates as available options. Not everyone will succeed. Most may even fail to translate their potential into results, but that’s still a lot of possibilities.

    The bottom line is that bullpen and starting rotation will be much improved from 2016 and the 2nd half of 2017 should provide a solid core going into the 2018 season.

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