The Cincinnati Reds have signed right-handed pitchers Wilmer Rios and John Murphy. Rios will be pitching for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic in March. That puts a total of 17 Reds players in the WBC next month.

Wilmer Rios has spent his entire career pitching in Mexico. The soon to be 29-year-old has pitched in parts of 9 seasons in his home country. He’s pitched in both the summer and winter leagues, pitching out of the bullpen and in the rotation over that time. This past year he made 29 starts that covered 171.2 innings for Moncolva during the summer and Hermosillo during the winter. Between those two stops he put up an ERA of 3.20. For context, his ERA in the summer with Moncolva was 4.47, while the league ERA was 6.11 (it is an extremely hitter friendly league). In the winter his ERA was 1.84, while the league ERA was 3.81.

Prior to the 2021 season, Wilmer Rios had mostly pitched out of the bullpen, but would make spot starts here and there. He threw over 100 innings in each of 2018 and 2019 while making 24 starts and 80 relief appearances between the two seasons. In 2021 he made 24 starts with just 6 relief appearances, and then in 2022 made 29 appearances in the rotation without ever pitching out of the bullpen. You can see the career stats for Wilmer Rios here.

John Murphy pitched for four seasons for the Maryland Terrapins in college, making a few starts but spent much of his time in the bullpen. After being undrafted he hit the indy ball circuit and has pitched for several teams.

Last year he pitched for Gateway in the Frontier League. It was a breakout year for him as he posted a 2.75 ERA in 36.0 innings, allowing just 25 hits, walking just 8 batters (and one of those was intentional), and he struck out 63 of the 142 hitters he faced (44%).

Murphy has always missed plenty of bats – his strikeout rate in 2020 was 15.9 batters per 9-innings pitched, and in 2021 it was 12.6 batters per 9-innings pitched. But he also walked 14 batters per 9-innings in that 2020 season, and in 2021 he saw a big improvement, but still walked 5.2 batters per 9-innings pitched. The walks virtually disappeared in 2022 and it turned around his career as he posted an ERA that was far and away the best he’d ever had. You can see John Murphy’s career stats here.

38 Responses

  1. David

    Wilmer Rios looks interesting. I did not find any “clues” as to what his “stuff” is.

    Fastball, slider, change-up, curve, anything else.

    Hitter friendly league can translate into “small ballpark” too. But again, we are all pretty ignorant (Well…I AM!!) about ball parks in Mexico.

    • Doug Gray

      I was able to see some video of him from about a year ago when he was pitching in the Caribbean Series. I saw a fastball and a breaking ball. A video from like 4 years ago when he was pitching against Team Japan had his fastball around 88 MPH. I have no clue how hard he throws today.

      With most ballparks in Mexico they are hitter friendly because they are well above sea level, so the ball flies.

  2. LDS

    Interesting, but how well do career players from the Mexican leagues translate to to MLB. I assume these were MILB contracts? Cubs signed an established ML’er. The Reds bought a lottery ticket.

    • Doug Gray

      A former Reds pitcher, Brennan Bernardino, pitched in the big leagues last year for the first time at age 30. The Reds drafted him in 2014. After 2019 he was out of affiliated baseball (he was released by the Reds before signing with Cleveland in 2019). He then went and pitched in Mexico from the winter of 2019 through the middle of 2022 before signing with Seattle as a 30-year-old in late June. They sent him to AAA and he dominated before getting a call up.

      It’s certainly a lottery ticket, but Bernardino’s story is a fun one. Thinking about Fernando Cruz and his story, too. He was in affiliated ball, too – both he and Bernardino were draft eligible because of where they were born/resided, while Rios wasn’t. But Cruz pitched indy ball, winter ball, and even a few years in the summer Mexican League before signing with the Reds in 2022 when he was 32.

      • LDS

        Thanks. Sooner or later, the Reds will get lucky,

      • MK

        I communicated with Brennan after his recall and debut in Seattle. Not a finer young man you will ever meet.

  3. Jim Walker

    Other teams extended their real MLB pitchers today while the Reds handed out two more MiLB deals to guys who have never pitched in MLB……

      • Brian

        Does anyone know what these signings are even about? It feels like they’re signing all of these never was players that are close to 30 and won’t contribute to anything by the time the team is good again even if they do figure something out. The plan is to build around a 2B that isn’t good defensively and a C that has had a scary amount of concussions but they won’t move their positions because they want to stay at that position. You’ll probably get 3-5 solid big leaguers out of the minors, hopefully 1-2 will become a super star. Nothing so far looks more than a rebuild that gets them back to an eventual.500 or wildcard team. The ownership and management just isn’t good. They can’t even get PR figured out. It sucks that it’s hard to support a team that you’ve been loyal to since you were a kid. Baseball allows these kind of ownerships though and it heavily contributes to the falling popularity of the sport.

      • Doug Gray

        It’s probably two fold. First, you need depth. You may hope to never use it, but when you are coming off of a season where you used like 60 players, having guys who may not get their brains beat in because they have actually visited the strikezone before probably isn’t the worst idea ever. But you also need guys to pitch/play in AA and AAA, and if you want to win in the minors you need guys that can help there, too, even if they aren’t necessarily “prospects”.

      • Michael E

        I wonder about AAA, AA, A and winning or not. It seems MiLB team W-L records are easily disregarded, but could it be key in several prospects progression? I mean, anyone that competes knows that losing takes it toll on your enthusiasm. Makes it tougher to get up when that alarm clock goes off. Makes it tougher to listen to coaches, teammates. Can lead to a prospect trying to “get his” given the team “stinks”, etc.

        Maybe tiny moves that can lift a MiLB team over .500 or division/league winners is worth a few million here and there for the sake of prospects ramp ups?

    • 2020ball

      It filled a need, the pen is quite thin.

      • J M B

        I also think since everyone in Reds country knows we aren’t spending… the more minor league signings the increased odds someone pans out. DJ can work with spin rates. Remember Connor Overton came from nowhere and I believe if he stays healthy beats cessa for a starting job easy. Minor league signings and invites sure beats stagnation

    • BK

      Do we really have good extension candidates? I like some of our players and would like them retained long-term, but I’m not sure the timing is right. Lodolo, Greene, Ashcraft, and Diaz are just finishing their rookie campaigns. For the starters, both sides have the incentive to delay a long-term deal. I suspect the starters all believe they are capable of putting together better years–improved consistency would bolster their leverage. From the Red’s perspective, all three spent time on the IL.

      Stephenson and India are both coming off injury-riddled seasons as well. Diaz exceeded expectations in 2022–Reds likely want to see another season, at least.

      One more point, India, Stephenson, Greene, and Lodolo all signed nice contracts as amateurs. So, less pressure on them to accept a team-friendly extension. Diaz and Ashcraft may be more willing due to their lower signing bonuses. In sum, I just don’t see a lot of incentive for any of the current candidates.

      • MK

        Diaz(TJ) and Ashcraft( hips) have both experienced medical issues along the way which should make the Reds concerned of long term deals and those same injuries make it unlikely the boys want to make any team friendly discounts knowing their careers could be short.

      • MBS

        I’d at least start talks with Stephenson, and India. Stephenson is a no brainer, as you could move him to DH or 1B if catching continues to cause injuries. India also makes sense, but carries a bigger risk. That would also lower how much he could ask for, which would lower the odds he signs. If they are going to try and compete without spending like the medium boys, then they are going to need to squeeze a year or two extra out of the youth that’s up, and coming up.

      • BK

        I agree with opening the communication with Stephenson and India. However, I doubt their agents are recommending they agree right now. Many have suggestions the Reds do extensions this offseason. I’m just not seeing how it makes sense for both parties right now and it takes two sides to make a deal.

      • 2020ball

        All they’ll maybe commit to is a 1 or 2 yrs of there post-arb seasons, it sure sounds nice to say extend everyone but that can add risk for the organization too. I dont care either way if they dont extend anyone, as others have said it’s probably the player that doesnt want one if they dont.

      • MBS

        I agree with the agents telling them to hold off. Any guaranteed contract is going to add risk, but the possible reward of keeping guys around that fit your model is worth the risk. Maybe they don’t feel either of these 2 are long term fits with the organization.

      • Michael E

        Too early on Lodolo or Greene, BUT hopefully GM has been given a green light by skinflint ownership to at least research possible offers and then get in touch with agents. If you can get one or two FA years at sub $15 million, I’d love to see that. Obviously if they want $20+ million for their first FA year or two, then waiting makes tons more sense (and even trading with a year left if they’re hell bent on leaving in FA).

  4. TR

    The recent pitching acquisitions do not give me much confidence in the Red’s 2023 bullpen with the balanced schedule coming up without 19 games with the Pirates.

  5. Jimbo44CN

    The names Hobbs, Roy Hobbs and I’m here to play ball. (OMG if only)

  6. JayTheRed

    Those are some pretty decent numbers from both players. I mean the Reds need pitching sometimes you can get lucky with these types of signings.

    We don’t know how much we are paying them. Also didn’t Krall about a week or two say they were done adding to the roster. There have been quite a few minor league deals signed lately.

    • Doug Gray

      Krall’s comments about being done was about signing guys to big league contracts.

      • TR

        From here on for 2023, it seems to be ‘minor league signing with invite to spring training.’

    • Harry Stoner

      It’s helpful experience for building on the Reds’ bullpen longstanding tradition of walking the first batter you face.

    • Old Big Ed

      Eh, you really gotta give a pass for bad stats in 18 innings in the Covid year, as recorded in a 4-team independent league in Utica, Michigan called the Utica Shore League. Murphy was out there trying, on bad fields with bad umps and bad karma all around.

      Guys like this are clearly longshots, but the minor league rosters need to be filled, too. So, I can’t see any downside to a signing a guy who can strike out 63 guys in 35.1 innings in a decent independent league. He will face much better hitters, but he also should get much better coaching than he has in the past. You won’t have to worry about his dedication or work ethic.

  7. CI3J

    Guess it doesn’t hurt to take a flyer on some pitchers MLB players haven’t seen before. Maybe they could be useful in the bullpen and benefit from there being not much of a scouting report on them.

    At least both were above-average pitchers in their previous leagues, but we’ll see if that translates to MLB.

  8. Rcsodak

    But he FIXXED It last year.
    No worries……

    • Rednat

      interesting read. Brings to question the question i have had for many years now and that is what role do teams like the reds, royals and pirates have in mlb today? to me it just doesn’t seem like there is enough talented position players for 30 mlb teams now to go around. So will the league try to keep these teams afloat or just let them perish?
      if the league condenses to 20 teams, would the reds survive, being the oldest franchise? interesting times indeed

      • Doug Gray

        The league is going to expand, not contract.

  9. RedBB

    John Murphy 7.88 SO/BB ratio. Yes pls….nice find

  10. Max BRAGG

    Remember REDS clueless management group is just hoping SOMETHING sticks. Two more minor league arms!