The Cincinnati Reds have signed free agent right-handed pitcher Zack Brown to a minor league deal. Brown, who was born just down the road in Seymour, Indiana (about 70 miles west of Cincinnati) and went to the University of Kentucky was a 5th round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016.
During his minor league career, Zack Brown spent the first four seasons as a starting pitcher. But when the 2020 minor league season was cancelled he returned to the mound as a reliever in 2021. Things didn’t go as he had planned as he began experiencing shoulder problems that after months of rehab turned out to be inflammation but not until it had cost him the first half of the season and some of the second half as well.
In 2022 he pitched in 49 games for Triple-A Nashville. The then 27-year-old posted a 3.93 ERA in 50.1 innings while allowing just four home runs, walking 19 batters, and striking out 51. The righty held opposing hitters to a .223/.316/.332 line on the season – limiting both power and average. He was better against right-handed hitters, holding them to a .622 OPS, but lefties managed an OPS of just .676 against him.
During the second half of the season he was outstanding, with the exception of one outing. On September 11th he allowed five earned runs in 0.1 innings against Charlotte. Outside of that outing his ERA from July 1st through the end of the season was 2.16. Even including that outing he held opponents to a .575 OPS in that time frame and had 8 walks with 32 strikeouts in 25.1 innings pitched while giving up just 18 hits.
In September and October he happened to pitch in three ballparks in Triple-A where they have publicly available pitch tracking data. In those three games he averaged 94 and 95 MPH on his 2 and 4-seam fastballs, 87 MPH on his change up, and 81 MPH on his slider. His fastball topped out at 96.2 in these three games.