Wednesday had some highs and some lows in the Cincinnati Reds farm system. High-A Dayton played an afternoon game and they got a pretty big reinforcement on the day when 2021 1st round draft pick Matt McLain joined them after playing two games out in Arizona with the team at the complex level. To say that McLain announced his presence with authority would be an understatement.
In his first trip to the plate, Matt McLain lined a single into left field. In his second at-bat it was his first career home run as he unloaded on a ball and hit it over the 20-foot tall wall out in deep left-center.
— Dayton Dragons (@DragonsBaseball) August 11, 2021
In his third plate appearance of the day he lined another single into left field to move to 3-3 on the day. He capped off his debut with the Dragons in the 6th inning with a bases loaded, bases clearing double into left-center. He finished the day 4-5 with five runs batted in and was a triple short of the cycle.
Matt McLain’s performance was certainly the high point on the farm on Wednesday. The low point was actually something that didn’t take place in a game. Top prospect Hunter Greene was scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday night, but he was scratched from his start about an hour before the game. Prior the Reds releasing an official statement I was told by a source that this was a minimal issue and nothing concerning. A few hours later the Reds released a statement noting that Greene “was scratched from his start with irritation in his right AC joint and that he is expected to make his next scheduled start.”
It’s been an outstanding return to the mound for Hunter Greene this season. The recently turned 22-year-old began the season in Double-A Chattanooga with the Lookouts, but has seen more action with the Triple-A Louisville Bats this year. In his 16 combined starts he’s posted a 2.84 ERA in 85.2 innings with 31 walks and 120 strikeouts.
Dauri Moreta and the next relief option
The next relief option for the Cincinnati Reds is probably going to be Tejay Antone. He’s currently in Triple-A on a rehab assignment and assuming he stays healthy during it, should return to the Cincinnati roster soon. If the Reds need to look to the minors to call up a reliever beyond that, though, the name Dauri Moreta may be near the top of that list – particularly among guys pitching out of the bullpen.
On Wednesday night the Bats called on Moreta to pitch the 9th inning and he got through it allowing just a single in a shutout inning. It was his 9th appearance for Louisville and he still hasn’t allowed an earned run in 10.2 innings. He also threw 26.2 innings over 18 games with Double-A Chattanooga earlier in the season. For the year he’s allowed four earned runs in 37.1 innings. That’s a 0.96 ERA for those of you keeping track at home. He’s given up just 24 hits, walked just eight batters, hit none of them, and he’s struck out 46 of the 138 hitters he’s faced (33%). And it’s not a guy going out there and getting by with smokes and mirrors, either. Moreta’s routinely hit 98 MPH in the second half this season and has been sitting 94-96 MPH all year long.
The one thing that’s working against him at this point is that he’s not on the 40-man roster. Calling him up would mean making a roster move. That’s not something the team would need to do to bring back Tony Santillan, for example, who is also throwing well in the Louisville bullpen. But the 25-year-old is having an incredible run in the upper minor leagues this season (and in 2019 he had a 2.35 ERA with 9 walks and 64 strikeouts in 57.1 innings – so it’s not exactly new that he’s dominating), and if the Reds need another reliever or two he should certainly be among the players the front office is discussing.