Today is the day that kicks off fall/winter league baseball as the Arizona Fall League gets underway this afternoon. Two weeks ago I took a look at the various leagues that take place in the offseason. Last week I looked at the position players heading to the Arizona Fall League.This week we are going to look at the pitchers that are heading out to participate in the league.
Ryan Dennick | Left Handed Reliever
Dennick is the only pitcher from the Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster that will be heading to the Arizona Fall League this year. The 27-year-old got a call up in September after a year in Louisville with the Bats (and one appearance in Pensacola) where he posted a 2.34 ERA in 50.0 innings. He didn’t have much success in very limited action with the Reds as he posted an ERA of 11.57 over eight appearances that spanned 4.2 innings.
The Reds have been seeking a left hander out of the bullpen for the last year with the issues that have sprung up with Sean Marshall and the ineffectiveness of Manny Parra in 2014. Dennick dominated lefties in Louisville, hitting just .202/.275/.283 in 109 PA against him. He’s likely being given one last look before things really get rolling in the offseason to see if they should keep him on the 40-man roster and give him another look in spring training as a potential LOOGY.
Carlos Gonzalez | Right Handed Reliever
The lone pitcher among the Reds guys who will need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December. The 24-year-old began his season in Bakersfield where he dominated the California League as he racked up 15 saves in 31.1 innings with just seven walks and 34 strikeouts. That earned him a promotion to Double-A Pensacola where he was solid, but not nearly as spectacular. With the Blue Wahoos he posted a 3.63 ERA in 22.1 innings with 14 walks and 19 strikeouts.
The control wasn’t as good in Double-A and more advanced hitters were able to keep the strikezone a little bit tighter than the guys in the California League did. Gonzalez has a good arm that can get into the mid-90’s so a good trip to Arizona could lead to his being added to the 40-man roster. A poor showing could mean he gets left off.
Nick Howard | Right Handed Starter
The first round pick from this past season came out of Virgina as a closer, though he had previously started. The team stated that they wanted to use him as a starter but that he would initially be used as a reliever. That didn’t last too long as he made just six relief appearances before entering the Dayton Dragons rotation. The first two starts didn’t go well but the final three saw him allow just three runs in 15.0 innings. He showed quality stuff as a starter and you can get a good look at it in the video above from his first start. Overall with the Dragons he had a 3.74 ERA in 33.2 innings with 11 walks and 23 strikeouts.
Last season the team took a similar approach with Michael Lorenzen and sent him to Arizona to work on making the transition to starter. It didn’t go well for him in terms of the numbers but he made a strong debut as a starter in the 2014 season as he jumped all of the way up to Double-A right out of the gate in his first full season. The Reds are hoping that Howard can follow that same plan, though likely with better results in the fall.
Ben Klimesh | Right Handed Reliever
The Reds drafted Klimesh in the 15th round in the 2012 draft as a college senior with a good arm and he struggled out of the gate as he posted a 6.99 ERA in Billings, though he missed a whole bunch of bats. He’s improved his ERA since then and continues to miss bats at a high rate.
In the 2014 season he split the year in Bakersfield and Pensacola. With the Blaze he posted a 4.34 ERA in 45.2 innings with 14 walks and 53 strikeouts before earning the promotion to Double-A. He struggled some in 16.0 innings with the Blue Wahoos as he posted a 6.19 ERA with seven walks and 24 strikeouts.
The right hander has generally underperformed his peripherals as he’s been solid in the walk and home run department while also striking out a lot of batters, but he’s also consistently had a high hits allowed rate despite all of the strikeouts. He’s had quality stuff since he was drafted, but he’s battled some consistency over the years.