The Cincinnati Reds have acquired right-handed pitcher Art Warren from the Texas Rangers this afternoon. He was acquired for an undisclosed amount of cash and is on the 40-man roster.
The 28-year-old has limited experience in the big leagues. During the 2019 season he appeared in six games for the Seattle Mariners, throwing 5.1 shutout innings while allowing just two hits, walking two batters, and racking up five strikeouts. That’s the extent of his big league career, though.
The Ohio Native, and University of Cincinnati alumn was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2015 Major League Baseball draft has pitched as high as Double-A in the minors – pitching at the level for all of the 2018 season, and all of the 2019 season that wasn’t spent in the Major Leagues. Warren has had plenty of success in Double-A. In 2018 he posted a 1.72 ERA in 14 games, though he did walk 14 batters with 22 strikeouts in 15.2 innings during that season that saw him miss all of May, and then pitch his final game of the year in early July. He returned to Double-A Arkansas in 2019 and posted a 1.71 ERA, but this time with much better health and control. Warren walked 13 batters in his 31.2 innings and picked up 41 strikeouts. He also allowed just one home run on the season.
From a stuff perspective, Art Warren certainly has some interesting things working for him. He’s topped out at 99 MPH, and sits in the mid-90’s with his fastball. Velocity isn’t a problem for him. He also mixes in a slider that works in the mid-80’s and will get as high as 89 MPH. In his very limited sample size of innings thrown in the Major Leagues, Warren has thrown his slider more than he’s thrown his fastball at a 55% to 45% clip.
Below is some video of his fastball and his slider from the 2019 season. Two videos are included with the slider because there are two different looks on the pitch.
Keeping the ball in the park
Pitching in Great American Ballpark tends to come with a caveat of “fly balls land in the river”. Sure, that’s a bit extreme, but the ballpark is certainly among the friendliest around when it comes to home runs. In his professional career, Art Warren has allowed just eight home runs in 235.0 innings pitched. He’s been very, very good at keeping the ball in the park.
With just 5.1 innings in the Major Leagues, looking at a ground ball rate isn’t at all useful. In the minor leagues, though, there is a sample size of 229.2 innings and while it’s spread out over five seasons, it is a little more useful. In 2019 at the Double-A level his ground ball rate was 60.3% – a rate that would be among the top five in the Major Leagues if it were at that level. But there has been plenty of up and down over the years in his ground ball rate. It was as low as 42.9% in 64.2 innings back in 2017. It’s tough to really say with any confidence where the rate should be expected to wind up. With that said, even when his ground ball rate dropped, his home run rate remained very low.