One thing that comes up often from fans and followers on my twitter feed is that the Cincinnati Reds pitchers don’t throw enough strikes. Sometimes that applies to guys in the Major Leagues and sometimes it’s a critique of guys in the Minor Leagues. At times that critique is valid. Today I wanted to point out several pitchers who are pounding the strikezone this season in the minors for the organization.

The Starting Pitchers

Rob Wooten leads the starting pitchers with the lowest walk rate. He’s not exactly a prospect, already 31-years-old. The Bats pitcher has a 3.2% walk rate this year with just three walks in 21.1 innings pitched. The next five guys are all of “prospect age”.

Vladimir Gutierrez is next on the list and he’s arguably the top pitching prospect in the organization. I actually wrote all about him at today with a little bit of video to go along with a scouting report. He’s walked just 3.8% of the batters he’s faced this year and he’s been racking up the strikeouts for Daytona, too.

Luis Castillo, another player in the discussion for top pitching prospect in the organization, is next on the list. The 24-year-old has walked just 4% of the batters he’s faced this season for Double-A Pensacola.

Jesus Reyes is fourth on the list with a 4.2% walk rate. The 24-year-old is pitching with Daytona and has performed well so far with a 2.61 ERA to go along with his low walk rate for the Tortugas.

Ryan Olson comes in at fifth on the list. He has walked just 4.3% of the batters that he has faced for the Dragons this season. He is currently on the disabled list, though, and may not return until some point next month.

Wennington Romero rounds out the top six. The 19-year-old lefty has walked just 4.7% of the batters he has faced this year for the Dayton Dragons. He’s also been striking out a bunch of hitters.

Here’s the Top 10 among the starting pitchers:

Name  ERA  IP BB% K% K/BB
Rob Wooten 5.91 21.1 3.2% 24.2% 7.7
Vladimir Gutierrez 3.69 31.2 3.8% 32.3% 8.4
Luis Castillo 3.38 32.0 4.0% 21.0% 5.2
Jesus Reyes 2.61 31.0 4.2% 16.8% 4.0
Ryan Olson 4.18 23.2 4.3% 19.1% 4.5
Wennington Romero 1.91 33.0 4.7% 30.5% 6.5
Sal Romano 1.23 22.0 4.8% 14.5% 3.0
Jose Lopez 2.45 33.0 5.0% 21.3% 4.3
Tyler Mahle 1.44 43.2 5.6% 29.8% 5.3
Asher Wojciechowski 0.92 19.2 6.7% 32.0% 4.8

Relief Pitchers

Tanner Rainey tops the list among the relievers. He’s walked just 3.2% of the hitters he has faced this year. This is probably the biggest surprise of the year so far. Last year he walked nearly 14% of the batters that he faced. His turn around as a reliever has been outstanding for the Tortugas.

Jesse Adams comes in next on the list. The lefty has only walked 3.6% of the batters he’s faced this year for the Dayton Dragons.

Jake Paulson missed most of the 2016 season, but has returned throwing strikes. The big right hander has walked just 5.6% of the batters he’s faced in 2017 for Daytona.

Aaron Fossas if fourth on the list. The 24-year-old has walked 7.7% of the batters he’s faced this year for the Dayton Dragons while posting a 0.44 ERA.

Evan Mitchell wraps up the top five. The righty is the only reliever in the upper minor leagues on the list. He’s walked 7.9% of the batters he’s faced off against this season.

Here’s the Top 10 among the relievers:

Name  ERA  IP BB% K% K/BB
Tanner Rainey 1.53 17.2 3.2% 48.4% 15.0
Jesse Adams 5.40 20.0 3.6% 26.5% 7.3
Jake Paulson 5.32 22.0 5.6% 21.1% 3.8
Aaron Fossas 0.44 20.2 7.7% 16.7% 2.2
Evan Mitchell 2.61 20.2 7.9% 20.2% 2.6
Robert Stock 2.37 19.0 8.3% 26.4% 3.2
Jimmy Herget 2.57 14.0 8.5% 42.4% 5.0
Nick Routt 5.27 13.2 8.5% 13.6% 1.6
Alex Powers 3.57 17.2 9.0% 29.5% 3.3
Austin Brice 2.77 13.0 9.1% 16.4% 1.8

About The Author

Doug Gray is the owner of and and as you guessed it, passionate about the Cincinnati Reds and baseball in general. He's been writing about baseball since 2006. You can also find some of his work at The Athletic where he writes about the Reds farm system. You can keep tabs with him on twitter @dougdirt24. He can also be reached via email here.

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13 Responses

  1. Simon Cowell

    Tanner Rainey has been other worldly this year. If he can maintain this all year…. we will be saying Aroldis who?
    Doug I would like to say that this is one of your better charts and if you ask me ball to strike ratio is one of the most if not the most important factor to look at when it comes to evaluation of pitchers.
    I”m not a fan of looking at velocity it is just to misleading. (Please see Jumbo Diaz stat lines please). I am convinced by the eyeball that batters are trained to tee off on the good ole fastball. If a pitcher can master off speed and maintain control he dominates. I think it that is the secret recipe.

    • Doug Gray

      Simon, Jumbo Diaz has been an above-average reliever in his big league career…. so, maybe pick someone who throws hard and stinks to try and make your point?

      But, velocity matters. It’s not the only thing to look at, but to pretend it doesn’t matter is crazy talk.

      The secret recipe is throwing strikes and being able to throw pitches by hitters. You need both.

      • Simon Cowell

        I’ll choose to disagree with you on both of your pointers. There was a reason Jumbo was released. It had nothing to do with his 100 straight as an arrow fastball. Somebody can throw a 60 mph curveball now that would be unhittable.

      • Doug Gray

        He kept runs off the board at an above average rate for his career. If you want to claim that means he’s not above average for his career, go for it, but it’s a really poor argument.

        That he was released has nothing to do with his career. It had to do with what he was doing in March. Don’t confuse the two things. They’re very different.

      • Doug Gray

        And there’s a very positive correlation between throwing harder and preventing runs. Again, it’s not the only thing, but to pretend it doesn’t matter is crazy talk.

      • Old-school

        The other issue though is injuries. The Reds need to find some guys who throw with easy effort and good mechanics and mix speeds and locate. The rash of injuries in MLB is due to the quest for 95 mph+ fastball and hard sliders and maximum torque on the elbow. You need at least 1 and really 2 pitchers like a Mike leake or Bronson Arroyo or Tom Browning. Durable pitchers who don’t need 96 to get you out.

      • Doug Gray

        There aren’t many guys that can get big leaguers out working at 90-92 anymore. Hitters are really, really good.

      • Old-school

        You are correct…some ridiculous hitters out there.

        That’s why I thought Disco was the guy…91-93….solid young pitcher on the road to durability and many years in the rotation…. and not a thrower….then 2 DL stints in 2 years.

      • GreggL

        I did some checking on fangraphs on FB velocity vs ERA for 2017. I know you can find a bunch of advanced stats to measure a pitchers effectiveness, but ERA is a decent quick measurement. Here is what the data says:.

        * 27 Pitchers have an avg FB velocity of 94.0 mph or higher. 16 of the 27 have an ERA below 4.00.
        * 21 pitchers have an avg FB velocity of 92.1- 93.9. 14 of the 21 have an ERA below 4.00.
        * 37 pitchers have an avg FB velocity of 90 -92 mph. 16 of the 37 have an ERA below 4.00.

        I think based on the data, you can see that velocity matters, but it shouldn’t be the all encompassing guide for pichting success. There are some very good pitchers in the 90-92 range: Jonny Cueto, Gio Gonzales, Jon Lester, Mike Leake, Zack Greinke to name a few.

      • greenmtred

        Doug: Obviously, faster pitches give a hitter less time to adjust and react, but 96mph belt high and middle of the plate won’t get MLB hitters out, either.

  2. JDV_MVP

    Doug, what’s the story with Max Wotell?

  3. The Duke

    After some early struggles, Scott Moss has been a pretty consistent strike thrower lately as well. In his 5 IP last night he had 0 walks and of his 75 pitches, 57 were thrown for strikes. He also has 51 K in 36 IP this year.

    Rainey and Herget both with 40+% K rates is pretty astounding. We have a nice base of relief prospects that will be able to help the Reds over the next couple years in Herget, Rainey, Hernandez, and Guillon. Not to mention the guys who don’t stick as starting pitchers that could potentially play up in a bullpen role.