The season got off to a late start for Jamie Walczak as he served a suspension of 50 games to start the year. Once his suspension was up, the Reds sent the right handed reliever to Bakersfield to pitch out of the bullpen for the Blaze.
Walczak made his debut with the Blaze on May 28th and things got off on the right foot with 2 shutout innings with 3 strikeouts. Over the next two weeks he would throw 10 shutout innings with 1 walk and 11 strikeouts. He was promoted to Pensacola after those two weeks and made his debut with the Blue Wahoos on the 17th and he was welcomes unkindly by Mobile who dinged him up for 4 earned in 0.2 innings. The initial two weeks at the level didn’t go well to finish out June as he finished the late May and June range of time with a 3.86 ERA in 16.1 innings with 3 walks and 19 strikeouts. His time in AA for the final two weeks of June though saw an ERA of 9.95 in 6.1 innings with 2 walks and 8 strikeouts. His walk and strikeout rates were quite good.
July was a strong turnaround with the Blue Wahoos as the right hander only allowed earned runs in two of his eight appearances. On the 11th he struggled a bit as he allowed 2 runs in an inning of work against Montgomery. Walczak followed that up with 4.1 shutout innings before allowing another run on the 25th against Mississippi. He would finish out the month with 2 hitless innings against Mobile. For July his ERA was 2.70 in 10 innings with 6 walks and 14 strikeouts. The walk rate was a high, but his strikeout rate was also quite high so he was able to limit the damage.
The August and September stretch began with 2 innings of 1 run baseball against Birmingham with a walk and 4 strikeouts. Over his next 9 games he threw 13 shutout innings with 6 walks and 16 strikeouts that spanned from the 5th through the 26th of August. In the final two games of the stretch he allowed 3 runs over 2 innings but finished up the season with a strong 2.12 ERA over 17 innings with 9 walks and 21 strikeouts. The walk rate remained high as did the strikeout rate.
The season was a big one for Walczak as he will be Rule 5 eligible in December if he isn’t added to the Reds 40-man roster. He went out in 2013 and put up good numbers and earned a spot in the Arizona Fall League where the Reds will likely take one last look at him before deciding what to do in terms of adding or leaving him off of the roster. His walk rate was higher than you want to see, but a strikeout rate over 30% isn’t something you see often either. Control has been a problem in the past as well, but if he can overcome the walks and put them behind him in the Arizona Fall League he could find himself added to the 40-man roster at the start of December.
For more player season review, you can see the entire list here.