Today marks the 75th anniversary of Joe Nuxhall making his Major League debut. The Ol’ Lefthander took the mound on June 10th, 1944 against the St. Louis Cardinals at the age of 15-years and 316 days. That set the record for youngest Major League player since the start of the 20th century. And it’s a record that still stands. It likely always will since the rules forbid teams from even signing players before they turn 16.
The times weren’t great, and because World War II was going on, many adult males were around the world fighting. That left many teams short-handed. Nuxhall has been spotted by a Reds scout in an amateur league. The scouts had actually shown up to watch his father play. But Joe had a game earlier on a different field and at 6′ 3″ and 195 lbs., stood out and drew attention despite his age. He would be signed in February of 1944, well before the season even began.
Nuxhall had been with the Reds all season for night and weekend games. He had school during the day, so he wasn’t with the team for those. But in a 13-0 blowout to the Cardinals, manager Bill McKechnie decided that was the time to get the youngest into a game.
Things didn’t go well, which isn’t unexpected. The left-hander was a 9th grader facing off against some of the best players in the world. In the end he would be charged with 5 earned runs on 2 hits and 5 walks while recording just 2 outs. But it was just the start for Nuxhall and the Reds – though everything else would have to wait quite a while. That was the only game the lefty from Hamilton saw action in during the year. And he wouldn’t pitch again for the Reds until 1952 when he was 23-years-old. But he spent 15 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds during his Major League playing career, and made two All-Star teams along the way.
As everyone knows, after his playing career he joined the Reds radio booth, becoming a staple for the team and Cincinnati for 40+ years. He was elected to the Reds Hall of Fame in 1968.
Robert Stephenson to go on a rehab assignment
Cincinnati Reds reliever Robert Stephenson will go on a rehab assignment to Triple-A Louisville starting tomorrow. The Louisville Bats will begin a 6-game home stand Tuesday. As long as Stephenson doesn’t have any set backs, it would be surprising to see his rehab assignment go beyond that date. He last pitched two weeks ago. He hasn’t missed that much time and shouldn’t require a longer rehab stint if things go well.
The Reds have signed some draft picks
While it’s been reported that the team has agreed on deals with 1st and 3rd rounders Nick Lodolo and Tyler Callihan, those deals are not official yet. Eight signings are official, though. The team has signed three pitchers: 6th round pick Graham Ashcraft (RHP), 19th round pick Tyler Garbee (RHP), and 23rd round pick J.C. Keys (RHP). They have also signed five position players: 4th round pick Ivan Johnson (2B), 8th round pick Quin Cotton (OF), 9th round pick T.J. Hopkins (OF), 21st round pick Ashton Creal (OF), and 39th round pick A.J. Bumpass (OF).
In addition to the draft picks, the Reds also have announced the signing of three undrafted free agents: Andy Fisher – a left-handed starting pitcher from Illinois, Anthony Zimmerman – a right-handed reliever from Fordham, and Thomas Lane – a right-handed reliever from Boston College.
Nick Senzel on The Jim Day Podcast
If you aren’t listening to The Jim Day Podcast, you are missing out. This week saw Jim Day joined by Nick Senzel and the conversation was outstanding. If you aren’t subscribed, or listening, you can get that done right here. Go listen to it. Then go download the rest of the episodes. His interview with Sean Casey had me laughing so hard that my ribs were hurting.
Statcast’s New Defensive Metric
I will preface this by saying that I haven’t looked into it enough to know just how valuable this stat is yet. And that we probably need a whole lot more time to let it play out to know. But Statcast has unveiled a new set of stats for outfielders based around how quickly they react to a ball, and how explosive that reaction is to the ball. Nick Senzel comes out slightly above-average in the metric. Yasiel Puig is well below-average. Jesse Winker is tied for 2nd worst among the 102 players who qualify in the “Feet vs Average” component of the metric.
When it comes to the actual route itself, Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel are both slightly above-average here, tied at +0.3. Yasiel Puig rates out exactly average. When it comes to the “burst” aspect of the metric, Nick Senzel sticks out here. He rated as the 14th best in baseball (of 102 qualifiers). Once again Yasiel Puig is exactly league average. Jesse Winker is among the worst in the league, ranking 97th out of the 102 qualifiers.
It’s worth noting, of course, that those ratings don’t exactly tell us how good or bad a fielder is overall. Statcast’s Outs Above Average rates Yasiel Puig as a +1 defender, Nick Senzel as a league average (0) defender, and Jesse Winker as a well below-average (-4) defender. The new aspect of the stat simply is another piece to the puzzle that is defensive metrics.
Photo used under Creative Commons 3.0 uported license, which can be found here. Photo has been slightly altered to fit the available space.