In the scouting notebook this week we will take a look at pitchers Drew Cisco, El’Hajj Muhammad and Ben Klimesh as well as outfielder Jesse Winker.

Earlier this week I was able to go see Drew Cisco pitch in Dayton for the Dragons. Coming into the game he had walked just one batter all season with 27 strikeouts in 26 innings pitched. He had flat out dominated the competition. His line for the game was solid, but unspectacular: 7ip, 6 hits, 4 earned, 0 walks and 3 strikeouts.  His fastball was working 88-92 MPH throughout the game and had good movement. There were a few times where he seemed to overthrow the ball and he would miss his location, but those times were few and far between. He was throwing two curveballs during the game. One was a traditional 12-6 breaking curveball. The other one was more of an 11-5 variety that swept across the zone. The righty also mixed in a good change up that had some nice fade and tumble. Overall, his control wasn’t as good as it was when I was able to watch him pitch on Milb.tv back on April 6th, but for the most part he was able to hit his spots and showed four good pitches during the game.

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The Reds took Jesse Winker in the supplemental first round last year and they felt he was polished enough to send him to Billings and he made that decision look about as good as possible as he went out and hit .338/.443/.500 with outstanding plate discipline. Coming into today he was hitting .286/.394/.464, but he got off to a slow start and has been absolutely torrid over the last two weeks hitting .419/.510/.721 with 8 walks and 7 strikeouts. Looking at the walks and strikeouts you can tell that he is a disciplined hitter, but he also is a hitter who can and will use the entire field. If you watch the video below, pay attention at the 0:16 mark and the 1:24 marks. On both balls he lets them travel deep into the zone and doesn’t really seem to sting the ball, but both went down the opposite line to the wall for doubles (excuse the poor camera work after the swings…. I am not able to track the ball from this angle). At the same time in the video, we see him get ahead of pitches and pull them foul. Winker has a skillset that you just don’t see any many players at his age who can hit to all fields and has the ability to do so for power. When you toss in the plate discipline you start to get a complete package kind of hitter that is a rare breed. While I would expect him to spend the entire year in Dayton regardless of what he does from a performance standpoint he is the kind of guy who could really fly through the system next year.

El’Hajj Muhammad had a good season in 2012 with Dayton as he posted a 3.23 ERA over 53 innings with 27 walks and 48 strikeouts. Not bad for a 49th round draft pick (that round doesn’t even exist anymore), right? With Dayton he was throwing his fastball in the 88-90 MPH range and occasionally would touch a tick higher. This season he is racking up strikeouts at a very high rate (44% of the batters he has faced have struck out). Part of the reason is that he is now throwing 90-93 and touching 95 with his fastball that he can mix with a nice slider.

Ben Klimesh began the season in extended spring training after struggling in Billings last season on the ERA front (6.99), but he had 13 walks and 38 strikeouts in 28.1 innings. So far in 7 innings with Dayton he has a 5.14 ERA with 2 walks and 10 strikeouts. The strikeout rate has been consistently good, but he has given up a lot of hits in his 35.1 innings for a guy who misses a lot of bats. His fastball has worked in the 91-94 MPH range this season with a power curveball in the 81-84 MPH range. When his curveball is working right, it is a real good pitch. His fastball can get a little straight, but one thing I noticed while going back and watching video of him is that he seems to be tipping his pitches. Lefties especially should be able to pick up on what is coming before he throws the pitch, though I can’t say for certain if right handers can see the ball as he loads. To be sure it wasn’t just a one time thing, I looked at video from both games this year that I had him pitch in and it was apparent in both games. As you can see in the image below (with one grip for each pitch from each different game), when he throws his fastball, his finger is not gripping the ball and pointing upward as he loads behind his back. With the curveball, his fingers are all gripping the ball. Left handers can easily see that, though his body may be blocking it from right handed hitters (I was not at the best angle to see that from their perspective). While most pitchers show splits for opposite handed hitters, Klimesh has an OPS against split between lefties and righties that is .426 points better against righties than lefties, who have slugged over .700 against him in his professional career so far.

klimeshtipping

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6 Responses

  1. The Duke

    Signed up last night so I wouldn’t miss this post, well worth 13¢/day

    Love how disciplined a hitter Winker is already as a teenager, if we can get another hitter just like him with only of our first couple picks again this year, i’d be thrilled. The Reds badly need more professional hitter’s like Votto who can work counts and drive pitches in the zone.

    It’s always satisfying when you read about a young player who scouting reports state that they may add some velocity as they mature, and then they do. Muhammed had some nice stuff last year, but if that fastball can consistently be an above average pitch, then he could have a real future in the Reds pen.

    I’m all on the Cisco bandwagon. 30 K vs 1 BB is Cliff Lee like control, and the 30 K is a good indicator that he is commanding the zone as well. If he keeps this up and keeps missing bats, he’s an easy top 10 guy for me in the Reds system.

    Haven’t seen Klimesh yet, haven’t been able to get out to a Dragons game this year so far. Once your kids hit school age, free time goes bye bye. At least free time before 10 pm.

  2. Alan Horn

    I signed up a few days ago. Looks like(at least right now) we have more pitching coming along than hitters. We have some decent prospects at positions where they don’t have to hit as much. Corner outfielders and corner infielders that hit a ton are scarce right now. Hopefully, some of those prospects will make a statement soon.

  3. Kevin

    I was getting nervous about Winker’s start, but it’s funny how those slumps can immediately even out with hot streaks.

    Kind of wish this article had been titled “Muhammad, Winker and the Cisco Kid”.

    • Doug Gray

      Haha. I would have cool names like that, but I wanted to keep it conformed with the series.

  4. Krozley

    Teahen returned to the D-Backs as he apparently failed his physical.

  5. MK

    Asked Cisco the other day where he is as far as velocity pre and post surgery. He said he is the same. Didn’t pick anything up but didn’t lose any either.

    If you are ever going to root for a kid El’Hajj is one. One of the great personalities and attitudes to come through Dayton. I think he visited as many hospital kids as anyone coming through town. Great to see him doing well on the mound, in a tough place to pitch.