The Cincinnati Reds already have a few top pitching prospects that are scratching the surface early. Michael Lorenzen was a center fielder and the closer at collegiate baseball powerhouse Cal State Fullerton before getting drafted in 2013.
In the minor leagues, Lorenzen worked on transforming his 95-98 mph four-seam fastball into a low to a 92-95 mph two-seam fastball with some sink and bore that is more capable of retiring professional batters. He reached the Major Leagues with the Reds this season but was sent back to the minors after going 3-8 with a 5.46 ERA in 19 appearances (17 starts).
In a trade with the Miami Marlins that sent veteran starter Matt Latos over to South Florida, the Reds acquired Anthony Desclafani, another young pitcher who was in the same position as Lorenzen is now. While not as high in velocity as Lorenzen is, Desclafani received his chance in the big leagues after posting a fairly decent 3.49 ERA in Triple-A New Orleans. He didn’t fare so well in Miami (6.27 ERA in five appearances) but is doing much better in Cincinnati (7-7, 3.75 ERA).
The Reds got a huge return from the Aroldis Chapman signing in 2010. So much that they have decided to go that route again with Rasiel Iglesias, who signed a seven-year, $27 million contract last offseason.
Iglesias’ struggles as a rookie is understandable. Going 2-3 in seven starts with a 4.91 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 40.1 innings pitched seems more like surviving rather than thriving.
He has a similar makeup to Chapman but without the ridiculous velocity that not even video games can replicate. His slider and ability to vary arm slots leads him to be a high strikeout pitcher.
Before having his season cut short due to shoulder surgery, Jon Moscot was also looking like a promising piece of the Reds rotation. Before his call-up on June 5, Moscot went 7-1 with a 3.15 ERA at Triple-A Louisville. He only got three starts out in the Major Leagues before injuring his left shoulder.
The next one on the way to the Reds rotation is Robert Stephenson, their top pitching prospect heading into 2015. Stephenson’s fastball and curveball has the scouts’ full attention. Which is why they graded him a 70 out of 80 in both categories.
As a 22-year-old in Triple-A Louisville, Stephenson has a 3.43 ERA in eight starts, along with 42 strikeouts in 42 innings pitched. If he stays there in 2016, he’ll be a name to look out for in the All-Star Futures Game in San Diego.
There’s a few more coming along the farm system as well. 22-year-old right-hander Nick Howard is similar to Lorenzen in the way of being an everyday player in college who can also pitch. He has a mid-90s fastball with a plus curveball in the 70s.
Amir Garrett went from playing college basketball in the Big East to being a tall pitcher with a mid-90s fastball and a slurvy slider. He’s going through the ranks as a starter with a 2.52 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 121.1 innings pitched at Single-A Daytona, but has a potential as a reliever in the big leagues.
Nick Travieso has a fastball that can reach 70 mph and a slider with velocity. The South Florida native has a 2.82 ERA in 15 starts at Single-A Daytona.