The Cincinnati Reds had until 6pm ET today to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft that will take place in a few weeks at the end of the winter meetings (which will not be held in person this year). Entering the day the Reds had 32 players on the 40-man roster. They would add three from their farm system, and then another player was added via trade. Internally the Reds chose to protect three pitchers from the Rule 5 by adding Vladimir Gutierrez, Riley O’Brien, and Jared Solomon – all right-handed pitchers who have been starters in the minor leagues. The team also acquired right-handed pitcher Brandon Bailey via trade (for cash) from the Houston Astros, and he’s also now on the 40-man roster.
In a separate deal with Houston, the Reds also acquired Fredy Medina – a right-handed pitcher – as the completion for trading Brooks Raley to the Astros earlier this year.
Starting out with Vladimir Gutierrez – he spent all of 2020 serving a suspension for failing a drug test in spring training. His suspension was for 80 games, and he has served 60 of those games. The remaining 20 games will be served in 2021. He’s currently pitching – but has yet to take the mound – for Licey in the Dominican Winter League. In 2019 he pitched for Triple-A Louisville, where he struggled – posting a 6.04 ERA on the season while giving up 26 home runs in 137.0 innings. He did finish the season strong, posting a 3.74 ERA in six starts in August that included 41 strikeouts in 33.2 innings. This spring, before the suspension, his velocity was up on his fastball, and he does have one of the better curveballs in the farm system.
Riley O’Brien is new to the organization this year. He was acquired from Tampa Bay in August of 2020 in the deal for Cody Reed. The 2017 8th round pick for Tampa Bay spent the 2019 season in Advanced-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery where he made 17 starts and three relief appearances. In his 102.2 innings he allowed 76 hits, just six homers, walked 44 batters, and struck out 107 hitters to go with a 3.16 ERA. After his acquisition, the Reds assigned him to their 60-man player pool at Prasco Park where he pitched for the next four weeks before the season came to an end. The right-handed pitcher can reach 97 MPH, but sits in the 91-95 MPH range with his fastball. He also throws a plus breaking ball, and he has a change up – but it’s one that needs work.
Jared Solomon didn’t pitch in 2020 since there was no minor league season and he wasn’t invited to be a part of the team’s 60-man player pool. The last time he was on the mound was in 2019 with the Dayton Dragons and Daytona Tortugas. In 115.1 innings he allowed 116 hits, five homers, walked 61, and he struck out 111 hitters to go with a 3.98 ERA. The results were solid, but unspectacular. Most scouts I spoke with during and after the 2019 season saw Solomon eventually moving to the bullpen. But he has started for his professional career, and after working in the 92-94 MPH range for most of the 2019 season (a few games he did sit a little higher), he was throwing up to 98 in instructional league this year. Toss in a solid breaking ball and a change up and he’s a guy you can see working in either role if he continues to develop.
Brandon Bailey pitched in five games this past season with the Astros. He threw 7.1 innings with three walks and four strikeouts while allowing just two runs (2.45 ERA). The now 26-year-old has spent most of his minor league career as a starter, making 58 starts with 25 relief appearances for Houston. For his career he’s posted a 3.07 ERA in the minors with 405 strikeouts in 349.0 innings. During the 2019 minor league season he posted a 3.30 ERA for Double-A Corpus Christi with 103 strikeouts and 41 walks in 92.2 innings. Baseball America rated him as the Astros #29 prospect in their most recent update (midseason 2020). He threw a fastball (92.1 MPH), curveball (79 MPH), change up (82.8 MPH, and a slider (87 MPH) this year according to Baseball Savant.
Fredy Medina, who was acquired in the completion of the Brooks Raley trade is a 23-year-old pitcher who has not pitched beyond complex level rookie ball (next year will be his age 23 season).