Thursday, August 15, 2013

Searching for answers regarding future Reds pitching

by: Izsak Rapp
Staff Writer

What's going to happen if Bronson Arroyo leaves next season? The obvious answer is Tony Cingrani. The southpaw has been absolutely lights out. Not many teams can drop a still developing player onto their big league club in place of their ace and not miss a beat. I don't know any other minor leaguers who would post a sub-3 ERA with around 10.5 K's/9 innings.

So Arroyo is covered, onward to the other guys. With Cingrani, we definitely have a suitable replacement, if not an upgrade. What about in 4 or 5 years when Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, and some of the older relievers are ready to retire or search for contracts elsewhere? Fear not my friends, we have some prospects who have the potential to be top-of-the-rotation guys. The keyword in that sentence is "prospects." For starters, lets make sure we're on the same page on what exactly, a prospect is. A prospect is a player in the minors who has the best chance to make it to the big league team. It doesn't mean they will be the next Joey Votto or Johnny Cueto. In order to be considered a prospect, a player must meet the criteria to be a rookie.'s "Prospects" page states, "To be eligible for a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service." That means players like Cingrani, and Derek Robinson are no longer prospects. Let's hope our remaining prospects can make the jump as well as Cingrani and Robinson.

Looking at the farm system, the player I am most excited about is 2011 first round pick, Robert Stephenson. First and far most importantly, you can follow him on twitter, @robsteev44. Second of all, the 20 year old is an absolute fireballer. His fastball consistently is 98+ mph; occasionally he even fires triple digits into the strike zone. He is absolutely filthy with 118 strike outs in 97.2 innings. Stephenson is a west coast kid from California. He attended Alhambra High School where he was a stud pitcher as well as a stud student. He walked out with a 4.2 GPA so we know he has the mental capacity to be a starter. He threw back-to-back no hitters in high school. The TL;DR version: He just throws stupid heat. As and added bonus he even hides the ball in his delivery.

Next up is Nick Travieso. Like Stephenson, Travieso was also plucked right out of high school, and is also another first round pick, and a fastball/slider kind of guy. Don't jump on the Internet and look at his stats, there is nothing mind boggling, nothing that stands out. His numbers aren't great, and you would hope that your first round pick would perform a little better. This is where the term "prospect" is important. Travieso has “the stuff" to be an ace, there is no question; he just has some more learning to do before he reaches his full potential. Nick is only 19 years old. He has plenty of time to learn the ropes and still have a productive major league career. You can follow him on Twitter, @NTravieso21.

So we have the one-two punch to start of the rotation of the future, what about the bullpen? Personally, I think another fastball/slider guy is the key. Kyle Lotzkar, the 23 year old out of Canada, has been roughed up this year. If I named a player so far that deserves the term "prospect" its Lotzkar. The hard thower has shown lots of raw talent. He has a fastball that runs into the mid 90's, a decent slider, and a straight devastating slurve. He has some control issues at times and he also has struggled staying healthy; but all in all I think he would make a nice set-up man if he could just get it all together.

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