Tony Cingrani will make his Major League debut as a starter tonight for the Cincinnati Reds against the Miami Marlins in Cincinnati. I will be in attendance thanks to an awesome deal on tickets through stubhub (section 134 for $9 – this section begins at $40.00 right now through Reds.com with their dynamic pricing).

Background

The Reds drafted Tony Cingrani in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft out of Rice where he split time starting and relieving, but served as the teams closer in his final year in college. The Reds gave the left hander a chance to start in Billings and he went out and obliterated the league as he posted a 1.75 ERA in 51.1 innings with just 6 walks and 80 strikeouts. His strikeout rate was the highest the Pioneer League had seen since 1981 when Sid Fernandez ran over the league. Scouts weren’t sold on his ability to start though, noting that he relied heavily on a good fastball that simply overmatched hitters at this level and his ability to throw strikes made for opposing hitters to have no chance. The Reds then skipped him over Dayton and sent him to the hitter friendly California League (Advanced-A) where it was even better than he had performed in the Pioneer League. With the Blaze, in 56.2 innings the lefty posted a 1.11 ERA with 13 walks and 71 strikeouts before earning a promotion to Double-A. With Pensacola Cingrani took a step back, but for the most part was still dominant as he posted a 2.12 ERA in 89.1 innings with 39 walks and 101 strikeouts.The Reds called Cingrani up in September where he threw 5 innings in 3 games with 2 walks, 9 strikeouts and 1 earned run. More scouts were on board that Cingrani could remain a starter, but plenty were still unsure if he could be successful at the big league level without big improvements in his slider and over-reliance on his fastball. As noted above, Cingrani went out and dominated in Louisville. With three starts under his belt he didn’t allow a run in 14.1 innings with just 2 walks and 26 strikeouts. The numbers are great, but more importantly was that his stuff looked improved. The injury to Johnny Cueto put Cingrani in line to make his debut earlier in the season than was expected by most.

Scouting Report

Tony Cingrani comes in at #69 on the Fangraphs list.

Tony Cingrani comes in at #69 on the Fangraphs list.

Fastball – So far this season Cingrani has been sitting in the low 90’s with his fastball and reaching 94-95 at his peak once or twice a game. In the past, Cingrani has been more of an 89-91 MPH guy with his fastball for his “sitting” range, but early on he has been a little higher than that. While the velocity of the pitch makes it an above-average pitch to begin with, his deceptive mechanics make it tougher to pick up the ball which gives the pitch even a little more bump up in how it plays. In the first half of 2012 he was able to show good command of his fastball and was able to spot it very well throughout the game as he would paint corner after corner to both sides of the plate. In the second half he seemed to be unable to do that with his fastball, though he could still throw it for strikes within the zone, he wasn’t able to be accurate within the zone. Early on in 2013 the command has not returned as he has been able to throw strikes with the pitch but is often wild within the zone.

Change Up – Depending on who you ask, Cingrani brings an average to a plus change up that has good fade to it. In past years this was the more often than not putaway offspeed pitch for the lefty, but in 2013 it has become his 3rd pitch.

Breaking Ball – In years past it was a slider in the 77-82 MPH range. There were even two different versions of the pitch, one of which was more loopy that broke downward and one that was much tighter and had late downward biting action. The latter pitch, when it was at its best, was a quality pitch. The problem however was that for as often as it was a good pitch there were as many times where it didn’t do much of anything and was just a flat pitch.  In 2013 Cingrani has been showing something different. While he and the Reds still claim it is the same pitch, a slider, it is in the 71-75 MPH range and it moves like a looping curveball with both downward break and sweep across the strikezone. Whatever it is, we will find out tonight as Pitch F/X will be able to tell us if it is different than the slider he has thrown in the past. Not only is the pitch looking better than a breaking ball he threw last year, it is also much more consistent and he can throw the pitch within the strikezone. His slider last year was mostly a pitch that he would try bury in the dirt and get hitters to chase. Cingrani has used the pitch as his #2 option this season in Louisville and seems to be confident to throw it to both lefties and righties. One thing to keep an eye on though is if he hangs the pitch at all, at a lower velocity hitters have more time to adjust than they did when he would hang a slider in the past that was in the 80 MPH range than a curveball that breaks over the plate in the low 70’s.

Pitchability – Coming into the year I, along with others, were concerned about the over reliance on the fastball as a starter. With a pitch as good as it had been in the minors to go with the numbers you can understand why he would use it so often, but it led to concerns that he wouldn’t develop his secondary stuff enough and that would set him back when he did get to the Majors. However 2013 has been an entirely different situation as he has mixed in his offspeed stuff a lot more often than he ever has in the past.

Concerns

While his fastball is a very good pitch due to both the velocity and the deception his mechanics lend him, his lack of command early on could be a bit of a concern against some Major Leaguers as he may not be able to get away with a poorly located fastball as well as he was able to in AAA. Other than that though, I think Cingrani has everything he will need to succeed at the Major League level.

What to expect

Stuff wise, he clearly has what it takes to get Major Leaguers out. While he has flat out dominated the minor leagues to the tune of a 1.62 ERA with 278 strikeouts in 211.2 innings I wouldn’t expect him to be a dominating top of the rotation guy right out of the gate (well, maybe right out of the gate against the hapless Marlins lineup). I do believe that he can put up middle-of-the-rotation numbers out of the gate with an ability to dominate at times, especially against lefty heavy lineups with his improved/new breaking ball.

29 Responses

  1. The Duke

    Excited to see Cingrani get his shot and to see a lefty starting for the Reds for the first time in 180 games. Was Dontrelle Willis the last guy?

  2. Jer-B

    Not the lefty we thought would be starting this early in the year, but I’ll take it. With the revamped slider this guy could stick as a starter for a long time. Wondering if Dusty will pair him with Hani or Mes?

    • tim

      Mes could have went 4-4 with 3 homers lastnight and i would still guess Hani gets the start tonight. I would guess Dusty will say Hani calls the better game and they dont want Cingrani to think too much.

  3. MK

    Actually this will not be Cingrani’s Major League Debut. It will be his first big league start but not debut.

    • Alan Horn

      I remember he pitched well in relief at the end of the season last year.

    • Doug Gray

      “as a starter” was supposed to be in there. I fixed it.

      I wrote about his time in Cincinnati last year….I need to proof read my stuff before posting. But this is what happens when we are scoring 11 runs while I am writing.

  4. MikeD

    I am excited to see the game and wonder what happens if he has a couple great starts. Leake is not a guy that I would have a problem trading for a decent minor league player. Also, I have no doubt who will be catching and it’s pathetic!

    • Terry M

      You are right.. Mes needs to catch at least 2 of 5 games….The lineup could use his bat and the power………

    • RobL

      Why so certain Mez won’t start? Hanigan can’t start 80% of the games and Dusty knows that. I am pretty sure Mez will get the start and Hanigan will get the next three. After all how hard is it to call a fastball 8 out of 10 times?

  5. Scott from upstate NY

    Doug you should repost Cingrani’s interview from the Winter. If I remember right he said he is from the Chicago area and he seemed excited, as a Red, to pitch in Wrigley in front of hometown friends and family. He may be lined up to play against the Cubs in his 2nd start but at GABP. I didn’t look to see how soon the Reds will play at Wrigley, but that would be a start I want to see in person.

  6. Foxred

    Doug,

    Didn’t see if you mentioned the article over at ESPN on Gary Redus Billings season where he hit .400. It is a great read! FYI.

    • Doug Gray

      He didn’t just hit .400, he hit .462!

      The craziest part was that Billings had a Gary Redus bobblehead night, but Redus had no clue about it. He then called the Mustangs to see if they had any left and they said they may have one or two and asked for his name and address…. then he said that he WAS Gary Redus. They tracked down 6 and mailed them out to him.

  7. Ron

    Stubhub is awesome. They have $50 tickets for Section 144 Row A seats 9 & 10 for $24. Good spot to steal a fly ball away from a Marlin’s outfielder … >:)

    • Doug Gray

      That is where I prefer to sit. Almost bought tickets out there for $8, but checked around closer and found the 134 seats for $9 and with a lefty on the mound I figured why not?

  8. RobL

    Don’t forget the Marlins are trotting out Jose Fernandez! He is a stud!

    • BABull

      We’re doomed. A ‘rookie’ on the mound and ‘not Hanigan’ on the dish…hope Dusty doesn’t choke on a pick…lol

    • Scott from upstate NY

      Mesoraco makes sense to me. I think Dusty gives veteran catcher, Hanigan the 3 available (most) veteran pitchers, and is leaving the catcher of the future to catch the 2 youngest pitchers.

  9. WallyP

    Hey Doug I see that Phino has been promoted to AAA while De La Rosa has been demoted to AA Yohan has been lights out and in fact was the best pitcher on the staff the past 2 weeks. My only concern is AAA does not have one lefty on the staff . I also am looking forward to see Cingrani tonight .I think he will do very well.

    be well

  10. Mustang John

    Lets go Cingrani.2011 watched him in Billings.Iwas fortunate to watch Redus at old Cobb field here in Billings also.

  11. Justin

    Cingrani is thorwing way to many pitches. Marlins are smart and working deep counts and not swinging early on! but overall Toni looks pretty good against a weak Marlins lineup.

  12. Terry M

    The Cisco Kid tonight 6 innings 5 hits and 12 k’s.

  13. Jim t

    Doug,first time I have seen Cingrani. Have to say you are right on in your report. He definitely needs a Breaking ball. Also his command needs work.

  14. Jim t

    98 pitches in 4 2/3 of a inning. Needs better command and another pitch.

    • Alan Horn

      True, but 8 strikeouts in 5 innings is pretty good. It was the Marlins, so we need a larger sample size. I don’t think Chapman would be doing any better starting.

    • Herbie

      I was pretty happy with what I saw, especially considering it was his first start. Never really missed in over the plate(except for maybe the home run ball. I was in the other room at the time.) Good stuff, none of his pitches came off flat. I’ll take high pitch counts if he can provide 5-6 innings per start that are that dominant. We’ve got at least three guys in the pen that can pitch two to three innings an outing.

      I was also very impressed with the Marlins’ starting pitcher up until he imploded.