Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed. Could it have gone any worse? Could their numbers be any more eerily similar?
MLB Totals ERA IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
Stephenson 6.86 61.2 74 47 16 35 58 1.768
Reed 7.15 61.2 75 49 15 34 58 1.768
There has been much discussion lately about these two and the state of the Reds starting pitching. Both of these two pitchers got limited trials in the rotation last year and both struggled. My hopes entering Spring Training this year was that these two would use their big league starts from last year as a learning experience and continue to develop towards becoming the successful big league starting pitchers their talent suggest they could become.
Then a funny thing happened at the end of Spring Training. The rebuilding Reds, with their two top SP down with injuries, decided to open the season with these two top SP prospects in the bullpen. They instead opened the season with a starting rotation comprised of the following pitchers in the 4th and 5th rotation spots. The number four starter was another prospect, Rookie Davis, with a grand total of 4 GS at AAA with a 7.50 ERA. The number five starter was a 40 year old who hadn’t pitched since 2014 due to an arm injury. Having either of these two start the season in the rotation over Stephenson and Reed was a puzzling move to me for a team that claimed to be rebuilding. If you are rebuilding, don’t you want to see how your closest to MLB ready players perform when an obvious opportunity arises to do so?
Well, the answer for the Reds is obviously no. The Reds chose to develop Stephenson and Reed with inconsistent work out of the MLB bullpen. Then as more injuries to starting pitchers cropped up they continued to pass over both Stephenson and Reed (who did get one spot start), while choosing AAAA types to fill out a patchwork rotation. Is this what a team who is truly rebuilding does? I would think a rebuilding team would be highlighting the development of these two young starters and probably taking advantage of the rotation openings to give them extended trials to see if they could polish their craft with regular work at the big league level. If they don’t, fine, you could then have swapped them out for someone in the next wave of pitching prospects who have now accumulated some time at AAA.
As noted above, I found the rebuilding Reds handling of Stephenson and Reed very puzzling. At least until I read the recent quote below from manager Bryan Price.
“We’re trying to define how we can get more out of our starting pitchers and give ourselves a better chance,” Price said. “If we can get deeper into the game and shorten those games and limit the damage in the early innings, we’re not talking about rebuilding, we’re talking about going to the postseason.”
There you have it. It’s no longer a rebuild. It’s no longer about rebuilding and developing prospects for the future. It appears that their early season success, staying close to .500 despite their starting pitching issues, has deluded them into thinking that this is no longer a rebuild and that they are turning their focus towards making the postseason this year. That would at least explain why they are resisting placing the likes of Stephenson and Reed into the starting rotation for a lengthy developmental trial. That would require a lot of patience while these two talented pitchers took some more lumps and lost several games while they attempt to work out their remaining kinks at the major league level.
So in light of the already rebuilt Reds new lack of focus on the development of top prospects and their preference for AAAA players in the pursuit of the postseason, this week’s “This Week on the Farm” will feature only the AAAA players and aspiring AAAA players that may soon be in Cincinnati to aid in the Reds postseason quest.
AAA Louisville Bats
The Bats have a 18 – 33 record and are 4th out of 4 in the International League West.
International League hitters are hitting .254/.322/.394/.716.
C Rob Brantley, .296/.330/.454/.784, is a 27 year old journeyman catcher who could very well be a part time starter later this year if Stuart Turner is returned to the Twins and either Barnhart or Mesoraco gets hurt. IF/OF Hernan Iribarren, .295/.348/.418/.767, is a 33 year old utility man who most likely will see some more time with the Reds later this season.
International League pitchers have a 3.95 ERA.
RH SP Rob Wooten (6.94 ERA, 26 SO, 5 BB, 6 HR, 23.1 IP), is only 31 years old and licking his chops for a call up, especially since he’s 9 years younger than Arroyo. Newly acquired RH SP Vin Mazzaro (24.92 ERA in 2 GS) is off to a slow start, but the 30 year old sees a lot of opportunity in the Reds system. RH SP Austin Ross (1.21 ERA in 9 GS at AA) gave up just 2 R over 8 IP in his first start with the Bats. Ross, who is 28 years old, now has 71 G with 2 GS at the AAA level with a 4.66 ERA. RH RP Louis Coleman (2.88 ERA) is 31 years old, has 1 S, and hopes to soon be the Reds closer. LH RP Lucas Luetge (4.56 ERA) is a 30 year old who has allowed only a .829 OPS to opposing batters.
AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos
The Blue Wahoos have a 29 – 23 record and are 1st out of 5 in the Southern League South.
Southern League hitters are hitting .243/.323/.369/.692.
C Adrian Nieto, .253/.314/.329/.643, is 27 years old, but knows light hitting catchers at AA get selected in the Rule V draft by the Reds. OF Leon Landry, .180/.215/.247/.462, is also 27 years old and is off to a slow start.
Southern League pitchers have a 3.60 ERA.
RH SP Deck McGuire (2.76 ERA) is 28 years old, already has a 5.26 ERA in 289.1 IP at AAA, and figures he could be the next Lisalverto Bonilla. RH RP Robert Stock, (2.52 ERA at A+ in 25 IP) is 27 years old, has a 6.75 ERA in his first 2.2 IP with Pensacola, and is just a year removed from Independent League play.
High A Daytona Tortugas
The Tortugas have a 27 – 25 record and are 3rd out of 6 in the Florida State League North.
Florida State League hitters are hitting .255/.324/.371/.694.
OF Reydel Medina, .217/.275/.362/.637, is a bit old for the league at 24 years old, but figures to be hitting league average soon. C Garrett Boulware, .238/.262/.302/.563 is also 24 and pleased to be out hitting the Reds top prospect catcher on the same team.
Florida State League pitchers have a 3.65 ERA.
RH SP Jonathon Crawford, (3.54 ERA), is 25 years old and still in A+ but figures he’s on a good track being in the Reds organization. RH RP Jake Paulson (5.08 ERA) is also 25 years old and is happy to have gotten a spot start this year as all the best opportunities with the Reds are as a SP.
Low A Dayton Dragons
The Dragons have a 34 – 18 record and are 2nd out of 8 in the Midwest League Eastern.
Midwest League hitters are hitting .246/.321/.375/.697.
1B James Vasquez, .250/.331/.433/.764, at 24 years old, is 3 years older than league average and repeating A ball with the Dragons this year. 3B John Sansone, .221/.310/.393/.703, is 23 years old and thrilled to be just above league average.
Midwest League pitchers have a 3.86 ERA.
RH RP Aaron Fossas (2.15 ERA), is the elder statesman on the pitching staff at 24 years old and his name is only one a short of AAAA already.