Cody Reed is the third player listed in almost every report about the trade because he was the “throw in.” He was the guy that was included to round out the deal because he’s never been listed on any prospect rankings and struggled mightily in his first two years of pro ball. However, once I started looking into him, he’s the player that the Reds got back that I’m most excited about. As a vocal critic of Jocketty’s, I have to tip my hat to the Reds front office for getting a player like him included in the deal.

What is there to be excited about? For me it’s primarily his stuff, his size, and his upward career trajectory.

Stuff

Cody brings two legitimate plus pitches to the table, his fastball and slider. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, although in his first two years of professional pitching he did tend to lose some velocity late in the game. His slider is tight with late break, rather than being loopy out of his hand, and he has really nice downward plane on both pitches. Scouts have noted that he has a simple delivery with good extension, which gives hitters that “ball explodes out of his hand” impression. He also throws a changeup, which is just average right now. In time, I would assume that the Reds will help him develop that, and potentially another offering, but he’s got a great base for a starter’s repertoire.

Here’s some video to get a sense of his stuff off the mound: http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=278907483&sid=milb

(I also like that he pitches in glasses, war paint, and a gigantic rat-tail, but that’s not really an objective thing, I just like to have some personality on the mound, especially now that we’ve lost Cueto).

Size

It’s funny to write about being happy that a pitcher has a big frame when talking about the Cueto trade, but the Cueto’s and Pedro’s of MLB are the exception not the rule. Despite liking to watch Cueto more than any other Reds pitcher in my lifetime, I still feel better about getting a big pitcher because it often means they can generate velocity and movement with less stress on the body. And big doesn’t begin to describe Reed, as he’s currently listed at 6’5”, 220 lb, which is pretty gigantic. While that’s not quite Jumbo territory, he’s the type of guy that when scouts say he can touch the high 90s, it’s easier to believe.

Career Trajectory

So how is this the guy that most people are calling the filler to the deal? By stuff and size he profiles as the best prospect the Reds got. I think it comes down to the path that his career has taken. He is the very embodiment of a late bloomer, and he’s late-bloomed twice now.

Reed is 22 now, born April 15, 1993 in Horn Lake Mississippi, on the border of Arkansas and Tennessee. He went to Horn Lake High and was a decent pitcher, but his fastball was 83-84 mph, and he wasn’t good enough to get drafted anywhere in the first 30 rounds or so. He went to Northwest Mississippi Community College, a two-year school where he could play and develop. He credits his coaches there for helping him progress (though I’m sure physical development had a lot to do with it too), and he started to be able to pitch in the low 90s. In 2013, his sophomore year, he began to touch the mid-90s and was included in draft discussions around the country.

The Royals took him in the second round of the 2013 draft, 46th overall, and he decided to start his pro career rather than pitch for Ole Miss, which had offered him a scholarship. However, despite the nice draft slot, he struggled immediately in the rookie Pioneer League. He pitched to a 6.07 ERA in 30 innings, making 15 appearances and just 6 starts. The problem? He walked 23 batters in those 30 innings. The next year was a little better, but he was still walking too many and striking out too few, and pitched to a 5.46 ERA in low A. That was just last year.

But then came 2015. Scouts across the board noticed that his velocity was improved, his slider was improved, but most importantly, his command was improved. In 96 innings so far this year, he’s walked only 26, just 3 more than he did in his pro debut. His 2.4 BB/9 and 7.9 K/9 are both career bests. He earned a promotion to AA in June after making the A+ all-star game, and has a 3.45 ERA in 5 starts so far. The Reds have sent him to AA Pensacola to continue his incredible turn around year.

Not-so-random-thoughtsâ„¢

As much as I hate losing a favorite like Cueto, I always like when new guys are brought into the Reds organization. It’s hard to get a real sense of the guy from what’s out there on the internet, but from what I’ve seen, he seems like a nice guy, a hard worker, and someone who takes coaching well. He likes interacting with the fans and you can follow him on twitter at @c_reed24. Here’s a video Q & A he did before he was drafted, there’s a pretty good story about meeting his idol David Price toward the end. http://www.nwccrangers.com/news/2013/6/4/BB_0604135208.aspx

I think Cody Reed looks like a legitimate #2/#3 SP prospect at this point, which is more than you can say for the other two pitchers that we got back for Cueto. He doesn’t have the first round draft pick pedigree (though he only missed it by a half a round), but he’s going to have thrown more than 120 innings by the time this season is done, and should be much more highly ranked as a prospect next year. He should be ticketed for AAA next year, and potentially for Cincinnati the next.

34 Responses

  1. tgarretson82

    Great article, Jeremy. I agree with your sentiments. It is really tough to lose a pitcher like Cueto, but there’s a certain amount of excitement about seeing young new faces that show promise. And at this point in the Reds organization there is a strong need for A LOT of young, new faces.

    • Tom Gray

      The Reds will never be able to afford another $150 to $200 million contract unless MLB implements revenue sharing (like NFL) for smaller market teams.

      Reds can barely afford Votto contract and really cannot afford Bailey contract.

      Howsam predicted this in mid 1970’s and he was right.

      • Jeremy Conley

        MLB has revenue sharing. That’s what the strike was about. MLB doesn’t like to say the words “salary cap,” but the MLB and NFL systems are nearly identical.

      • charlottencredsfan

        I’d like to see a comparison of the lowest contract teams in MLB & NFL, in relationship to the highest. I’m guessing there isn’t a Yankees or Dodgers in the bunch. Maybe I’m wrong but if not, there really is no doubt that the “systems” may be identical but the “outcomes” are not.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The sports really aren’t comparable. The NFL sets a hard cap on salaries and a bunch of teams hit the cap and would spend more if they could. In baseball, there’s a soft cap and taxes levied for money spent above. Some teams do try to avoid breaching it. But the level is so high ($189 million) that only a couple teams exceed it. Most others wouldn’t even if they could.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Exactly my point. If MLB had a hard cap at say $175M, it would be better. Even $200M.

      • mtkal

        Is there an actual mechanism in baseball that puts a limit on what a team can spend on it’s player’s salaries? Is there a luxury tax or something? Sorry I’m a bit ignorant on this and not even sure where to start in looking it up. Please don’t feel the need to explain the whole thing with all the details. Just a simple answer and/or a point in the right direction to look it up would be much appreciated.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Yes. A dollar amount is set in the collective bargaining process for each year for the duration of that agreement. Teams can spend whatever they want. Any amount they spend over the threshold they get a tax (like 20 percent) added on. The tax rate grows each year in a row the organization is over the threshold. I think it gets up to around 40 percent. The threshold this year is $189 million. If the Dodgers spend $239 million (so, $50 million over) they get taxed an extra $10 million. That money gets distributed out to all the teams.

        But the number ($189 million) is set so high, only a couple baseball teams could realistically think about going over. In football, lots of teams would go over theirs if they could.

      • mtkal

        Never mind. Lots of info above and below, and had some luck with other research as well. Thanks all for the info and interesting discussion as usual.

      • ManuelT

        Please name an NFL scenario comparable to this one with Johnny Cueto. You can’t. If an NFL really wants to keep a player, they do. Even if the player wants to leave, the team can put a franchise tag on him. The systems are far from identical.

      • Jason

        Ugh no there not at all first off.#1 all teams in NFL share a collectively bargained TV contract north of a billion a year. #2 the NFL has a hard cap baseball does not. No team in NFL can outspend another team.#3 baseball teams are pretty much salary based on population of the city there in. So if you live in NY you have a complete cash advantage over say the twins. #4 mlb does not want a salary cap because teams can have a 270 million dollar payroll neither does the player union#5 NYY had a 220 million a year TV contract the reds had a 12 million dollar contract why would NYY or LAD or Chi or ATl or TeX or any big market team want to split TV revenue with small market teams. Your completely off base with that post

      • Tom Gray

        Green Bay Packers get more revenue sharing than Cincinnati Reds.

        NFL system works. MLB system doesn’t.

      • Steve Mancuso

        At peak, the Votto and Bailey contracts will cost $45 million. If the Reds are spending $150 million on payroll by then, how is it they can’t afford $45 million?

        There is revenue sharing, although not to the extent of the NFL. Much more of the revenues are local in baseball – example, no local TV broadcasts for the NFL. Clubs share 33% of all their baseball revenues and certain clubs get even more than that. There is nothing like a hard salary cap in baseball. MLB is the only sport without a hard cap, so it is quite different. There is a point where teams have to pay what’s called a luxury tax if they go over a certain amount.

        The player’s union in baseball is stronger than other sports for a variety of reasons. That’s why there is no hard cap. On the other hand, players in the NFL get a much higher percentage (guaranteed) of league revenues than baseball players. In many ways, the MLBPA is oriented toward helping the highest paid players.

      • Jeremy Conley

        The thing is, the only thing that enforces this “hard cap” is that if you go over it, you pay a penalty. Plenty of NFL teams go over the salary cap. The penalties may be higher, but it’s not like you can’t go over it, so at the end of the day, it’s a luxury tax system as well.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The penalties are much more severe in the NFL. A couple teams do it every year. The NFL can void contracts and take away draft picks. No NFL team flaunts the salary cap the like the Yankees and Dodgers do in baseball. Plenty of people say MLB doesn’t even have a salary cap, the penalties are so lenient.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Of course they can but should they. Hey, it’ water under the bridge and I for one never want to discuss it again but it has no relevance. If it ever becomes relevant again, you can deal me some cards.☺

      • charlottencredsfan

        Interesting tidbit: while watching the Royal game last night, the Royal TV guys were discussing Alex Gordon’s contract status. His contract is up this year with a player $12.5M option for 2016. They figured Gordon will opt out and I agree. He and Joey are nearly identical in age and since 2011 their WAR is: Gordon = 25.3, Votto = 23.3. The broadcasters opined AG would not be signed to a high dollar long-term contract (5 – 6 years), with their payroll limitations, I agree 100%. Be interesting to see how long KC can stay competitive and if they ever win a WS.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Alex Gordon is a mouthwatering possibility. LF with great OBP skills and Gold Glove defense. Only drawback is he’ll be 32 next Opening Day.

      • Tom Gray

        Bingo. The Reds simply cannot compete on today’s economic terms. So be it.

      • MrRed

        CHARLOTTENCREDSFAN one thing that I think has to be noted when comparing JV and Alex Gordon from 2011 to present is that Votto has missed a lot more time. Enough in fact that I think he would be way ahead of Gordon in terms of WAR. It will no doubt affect his value in FA.

      • Tom Gray

        I agree with what Marty Brennaman said on Willie Cunningham WLW interview yesterday or day before.

        The Reds will never be able to pay Big $$$ (more than $100 million contracts) to their best players. I’m paraphrasing what he said.

      • charlottencredsfan

        They can but shouldn’t.

    • Jeremy Conley

      I don’t see what would stop him besides having a bad year. He’s started consistently his whole career, so he’s built up the innings workload a lot more than Finnegan. He’s pitching well at AA now and still has a month to go in the season. Unless the Reds see something they don’t like, which I doubt because I’m sure they’ve been scouting the kid, I doubt they would start him at AA next year since he’s shown he can handle it so far.

      With the Reds needing starters badly now, I’m sure they want this kid to continue to develop fast.

      • greenmtred

        Jeremy: I’m puzzled by the apparently general consensus that Lamb projects as a back of the rotation guy. I don’t know anything about him, but the reports of mid-90’s fastball and several other plus pitches are either mis-leading or his potential is being under-estimated, no?

  2. eric nyc

    Got a real Mat Latos vibe going there. I wonder if they’d try and get his delivery a little more straight up and down to make better use of his height. But if he’s getting the fastball up in the high 90’s they probably don’t want to mess with it.

    • Jeremy Conley

      Yeah, I thought the same thing when i watched scouting video. I think that they like that his delivery is compact, and doesn’t have a lot of moving parts. If he wasn’t getting any sink on his pitches I bet they would try to change his arm angle, but with the mechanical changes he made this year, his command improved so dramatically, I would imagine that they just want him to continue doing what he’s doing and not get hurt.

      • lwblogger2

        And sometimes when you change an arm-angle to induce sink, you lose ‘run’ on the fastball. It really stinks when you lose the run and don’t really improve the sink. If it’s working and doesn’t look like it’s gonna hurt a kid, it’s best not to mess with it.

  3. UglyStrike

    I saw the Cody Reid kid last year when he was with the Legends in Lexington. He looked exactly like he is. A young player that is facing talent as good/better than he is for the first time. He was actually having to learn how to pitch instead of just throw. When on his pitches looked really good. (Sneaky movement for SO’s) IF he develops the mental side I think we will be pleasantly surprised.

  4. jamesgarrett

    I like all young power arms.Being left handed make it better.

  5. mtkal

    Thanks Jeremy for a really good, informative article. I’ve been a bit worried about Walt doing these deadline trades, but it looks like so far, so good. Stocking up with good young left handers certainly takes a little sting out of loosing a great like Cueto. I’m looking forward to watching Reed and the others develop in the coming years.