Pitchers and catchers report in three-and-a-half weeks. Let’s say that again: Three-and-a-half-weeks!

There are two pitchers who would seem to be locks to make the Cincinnati Reds rotation heading into 2016. Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias, short of injuries, will take up two of the rotation spots. After those two spots, things are absolutely wide open. When Homer Bailey returns he will join the rotation, but until then there are three spots open in the rotation.

How those three spots shake out, and to a lesser extent, if any of those guys that lose out wind up in the bullpen, is a big story heading into spring training. Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, Jon Moscot, Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson are the likely candidates, at least from the minor league side of things.

Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson are long shots from that group. Neither has any big league experience and Reed has never thrown a pitch in Triple-A. At the same time, they have the two best arms from that group despite the inexperience. Not wanting to start the service time clock could play against them making the team out of spring training, but if either of them is pitching lights out stranger things have happened than bringing one of them north with the team.

In the bullpen it would seem that Tony Cingrani, Jumbo Diaz and JJ Hoover are pretty much in as the only returning players. There are tons of options here, Carlos Contreras, Caleb Cotham, Dayan Diaz, Drew Hayes, Chris O’Grady, JC Ramirez, Kevvius Sampson, Layne Somsen, Pedro Villarreal and Blake Wood are all competing for a spot. That of course doesn’t include the guys who miss out on the rotation who could slide into the bullpen.

Perhaps the most intriguing name for the bullpen isn’t even listed above. While the Reds are looking at Brandon Finnegan as a starter, he’s excelled at times in the bullpen in his short career. If he doesn’t make the rotation, would the Reds use him to fill out the bullpen, or will they send him to Louisville to continue working as a starter?

Another very interesting name is Blake Wood. Who is Blake Wood? He’s a 30-year-old who has pitched in a grand total of 7.2 innings in the big leagues since the 2012 season began, but the right hander has a big time arm that’s capable of reaching triple digits. He’s certainly not young, but he has that Jumbo Diaz feeling to him with big time arm strength and good minor league numbers that could take that step forward and become quite useful.

The 2016 season doesn’t look like it’s going to be an overly good one for the Cincinnati Reds, but if there’s one thing that they can say is that there will be a whole lot of interesting arms to look at in spring training and throughout the season. A lot of them may be new faces to those who don’t follow the minor leagues all that closely, but there are some real arms out there for the team to look at and fill out the pitching staff.

17 Responses

    • Doug Gray

      Not really a minor leaguer. Spent a large majority of 2015 in the big leagues. This was more focused on the minor leaguers.

  1. wizeman

    Enjoy your work. Also think you missed on Lorenzen. Imagine a young pitcher with a live arm who had command issues early in his career. Not a novel concept.
    Stephenson dominated in majority of starts at AAA. He will throw 50 more innings than he did last year. By June they will be in Cincinnati.
    The guy you flip in July for controllable bats is DeScalfini if he continues to pitch well.

    • Doug Gray

      Didn’t miss him at all. Just consider him a big leaguer at this point. He’s got no rookie eligibility left. He spent almost all of 2015 in the big leagues.

      • wizeman

        makes sense. still thinking anybody who does not probably own a razor a minors guy.

  2. wizeman

    I am enjoying the daily articles on mlb.com about ten top prospects at each position. feel heartened after first five days.
    RHP- Stephenson
    LHP Reed and Garrett
    C Tyler Stephenson
    2b- Peraza and Blandino.

  3. RFM

    Three spots go to Iglesias, DeSclafani, and Lamb. Two more to the mix of Lorenzen, Finnegan, and Moscot… three really young guys, one with limited starting experience, another who missed half of 2015. Those three final guys would probably all be helped by more time in AAA.

    Sign Arroyo, or another veteran. Somebody who can hold a rotation spot until a younger candidate distinguishes himself in Louisville. Keeping the younger guys from being rushed is in the Reds’ best interest.

  4. doctor

    if Finnegan and Lorenzen don’t make a rotation spot, I think Reds would best off having them pitch in AAA as starters, joining Reed and Stephenson down there.

  5. Sean Lahman (@seanlahman)

    The real story is not which of the four young guys make the rotation in April. It’s which of the opening five pitch well enough to stay in the rotation after Bailey returns and after Stephenson and Reed get called-up. Those are your 1-2-3 starters for 2017, and this year is all about sorting out which of the other 6 guys earns spots 4 and 5. There’s no guarantee that it’s Iglesias and DeSclafani long term.

    I agree with Doug that Finnegan’s an intriguing idea for the bullpen. That’s shaping up to be a strength again after being such a mess last year.

  6. streamer88

    I’m not a whiz with options, call-ups and send-downs, but none of these guys will throw more than 120-150 innings right? Except RI and AD maybe. Should be plenty of MLB innings to get everyone enough starts. 162 games = 16 starts for 10 pitchers. That oughta do it right? If you’re not starting at MLB level, you’re either over innings and done, or on a bus to make your next scheduled start at AAA. Bad plan?

  7. james garrett

    Not wanting to start the service clock will factor in tremendously this year but I hope it doesn’t create to big of a problem.With such a surplus of pitching I hope all get a chance at some level and lets not tag guys as being ready this year or that year just because we can.This year should be used as the year to find out about all of them and if they figure in to the long term plan.Spring training is the time to find out what these guys can do and by that I mean pitch them against big league lineups and not against guys that are ticketed for the minors.Our pitching is a strength so lets find out how much of a strength it really is.

  8. TR

    With the Reds plethora of young untested pitching, I hope the front office will not crowd the roster with over-the-hill pitching like they did last year. After all, the consensus is 2016 is a reboot/rebuild year with the Reds having no chance for the playoffs.

    • sezwhom

      I agree. Go young, stay young and take your poison. Going to be a long year so let’s focus on youth and see what we can build on.

  9. PDunc

    So if we’re making predictions on who starts the season in the rotation and who ends the season there, I’d go with:

    Start of season
    Iglesias, DeSclafani, Lorenzen, Lamb & Finnegan

    End of season
    Bailey, Iglesias, DeSclafani, Stephenson, Reed
    with Cingrani, Hoover, Jumbo, Lorenzen and Finnegan the core of the bullpen
    and Garrett in AAA as next in line for the rotation

  10. David

    Reed , Amir Garrett, Mella and Travieso are at least a year away, maybe two. There is no reason to rush them all up. If one has a standout year (and I think that would be Garrett), then maybe he sees the Bigs in September.
    I also see John Lamb as getting an almost sure starter position, because he is the most likely to get traded for an offensive player, as Cody Reed and Amir Garrett are right behind him, and probably more talented.

  11. Mike in Maine

    As an addendum to reading positive things about the Reds’ future, check out the Cincinnati Prospect list article on Fangraphs by Dan Farnsworth from 29 January … you’ll find it down on the lower right hand side of the page … it gives one hope.