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.