Looking at the future: Cincinnati Reds Starting Pitchers Doug Gray December 19, 2013 20 Comments This is a new series that I am going to begin today and run each Thursday moving forward to take a look at each position. While it may seem a bit similar to the State of the Farm series, the purpose here is to look at the current Reds and the contract status of the players at each position and get into potential internal replacements for when those current Reds contracts expire. Expires after 2014: Homer Bailey While Walt Jocketty has said that the Reds are trying to extend Homer Bailey, he isn’t locked up yet. The guy who replaces Bailey will be stepping into some likely big shoes. While most would argue that he isn’t the teams top pitcher, there isn’t much difference between him and whoever you do deem as the teams top pitcher at this point in time. Bailey has topped 200 innings in each of the last two years and has posted an ERA of 3.58 in that time frame. Potential replacements: Robert Stephenson, Daniel Corcino, Chad Rogers and Jon Moscot The top bet here is Robert Stephenson, the top pitching prospect in the system.While there is a tad bit of risk here because of his limited time in the upper minor leagues, he has shown elite stuff and good control at the lower levels. Look for him to split his season between Pensacola and Louisville in 2014 as he prepares to take over in 2015. Daniel Corcino spent his entire season in AAA in 2013 and had a year to forget, but he has shown plenty of promise in the past and has been performing well in winter ball. He will look to rebound in 2014, and if he has success he could be first in line if Stephenson needs some extra time. Chad Rogers split his time in AA and AAA, so he has time in the upper minors. He is viewed as a bit of a tweener type who could be a back end starter or a reliever, but he is the most advanced of the group and could get his chance as soon as 2014 if a spot opens up. Jon Moscot has rocketed up through the system, finishing his first full season in AA. While he is likely to start the season back in AA, he is another advanced arm with quality stuff who has been moved quickly. Most likely to take over in 2015: Robert Stephenson He has the best stuff out of the entire group and he has shown enough polish that he could take over in 2015 if things go as expected for him in the 2014 season. Wild card pick: Jon Moscot Moscot is probably the second best overall package of this list with good stuff and plenty of polish to work with. While Stephenson should be the frontrunner, Moscot is the type of guy who could also be ready to take over in 2015 on a full workload from the beginning of the season and has the stuff to help fill out a rotation. Expires after 2015: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Mike Leake. The Reds could potentially lose two front of the rotation pitchers after the 2015 season, which would be a big blow to their rotation. Like Homer Bailey, I am sure the Reds are entertaining the idea of extending at least Mat Latos at this point in time. Much like losing Bailey, both Latos and Cueto fill huge spots in the rotation who are capable of throwing 200 innings in a season with low ERA’s. Mike Leake may not be of the same caliber pitcher as those two, but he is one of the best #4 pitchers in all of baseball and provides innings and reliability. Potential Replacements: Ismael Guillon, Drew Cisco, Ben Lively, Nick Travieso and Michael Lorenzen Along with the group from above who could remain in the minors if one guy takes over, there could be a group of real arms to choose from this group to help a loss of potentially two top level pitchers and a third league average or better guy. Three of the guys on this list are top 10 prospects along with lefty Ismael Guillon who missed more bats than innings in 2013 and polished righty Drew Cisco. Unlike the previous group, it is much tougher to peg someone as the most likely candidate as everyone is rather far away at this point and still has plenty of question marks on their resume. Ismael Guillon is the only one of the group that is currently on the 40-man roster and he will have to stick to the Major League roster in the 2016 season, but that may not be in the bullpen. He has gone back and forth between his seasons in his career of good and bad, with 2013 being on the bad side with poor control. He has the stuff to be a starter and has had no problems missing bats in his career and being a lefty certainly plays into his favor, but he must throw more strikes to stick in the rotation. Drew Cisco is almost the exact opposite of Guillon. The right hander doesn’t have quite the same stuff, but he is about as polished as they come. Cisco has command of his pitches on most nights and even when he is off, he still throws strikes. He could move quickly because of his polish and push for a spot in 2016. Ben Lively was just drafted in 2013, but he was dominant in his debut and finished his season in Dayton. In limited action his stuff was outstanding, but he will need to prove it over a full seasons worth of innings as well as stints longer than 3-4 innings like he was limited to in 2013 after a long college season. He could move quickly like Jon Moscot has in his career so far. Nick Travieso had an up and down season in his first full year, but he flashed off strong stuff at times and went through very good stretches. The former first rounder still has a fresh arm because of his usage in high school, but with the potential he has he could move quickly if things snap into place for him. Michael Lorenzen is similar to Travieso in that he is a very fresh arm. He threw just over 40 innings in his college career and is making the transition to starter for the Reds after spending his college career as an outfielder and closer. Building up innings is a big hurdle that he will have to clear and improving his control that was poor in his initial professional season is another hurdle he will have to handle, but he shows elite stuff and is another guy who could move quickly if things click for him. Most likely to take over in 2016: Ben Lively Lively gets the nod here because he is the guy most likely to be able to handle a full season workload of 180 innings by this point in time and his stuff, while not the best in this group, is still quite good. If he can maintain his stuff, he should move quickly through the system and put himself in line for a potential 2016 job. Wild card pick: Drew Cisco Of the entire group, he may be last on the “stuff” scale, but he is the most polished of the pitchers and could move quickly and put himself in line to be the first guy looked at among this group if he reaches Triple-A first. As a guy who pounds the strikezone and has generated a high rate of groundballs, he fits in well with what the Reds have tried to get out of their Major League pitching staff since Bryan Price took over as the pitching coach. For more from this series, click here. 20 Responses Alpha Zero December 19, 2013 Don’t forget Holmberg. He’ll likely be in the mix as well. Doug Gray December 19, 2013 I think he winds up in the bullpen. I have him on par with a guy like Josh Smith, who probably could be a back end starter, but will wind up in the bullpen and is several slots down the depth chart by the end of 2014. IndyRedsFan December 19, 2013 Good post. I look forward to seeing the review of the other positions. Regarding yesterday’s post on Arias. Do you expect him to start at Pensacola this year, or start at Bakersfield with a mid-season move to AA? Doug Gray December 19, 2013 Bakersfield with a promotion if he shows he can handle it. If I had to bet though, he spends the entire year in Bakersfield. Alan Horn December 19, 2013 Good report. Some of those listed are likely to be in the Red’s rotation down the road. All of our present starters will get expensive going forward. It is not realistic to think we can pay all of them what the market will demand. Krozley December 19, 2013 Leake will be eligible for free agency after 2015 as well. Doug Gray December 19, 2013 Well crap, he sure is. Time to fix this. I don’t know what I was thinking. babull December 19, 2013 With Leake, he is not a TOR starter. No way do I try to retain him thru FA. Replace him from within the org. Norwood Nate December 19, 2013 Out of the 4 that will be up in the next two years, I would put money into Latos and Bailey. I don’t trust that Cueto will continue to stay healthy with the way his throwing motion is, and I think we can replace Leake from within. Of course, if any can be extended on a good deal for the team, then you have to think about it. Now, I don’t think Bailey is going to re-sign. I think we have a good-great chance to re-sign both Leake and Latos. I don’t really have a feel for Cueto. Alan Horn December 19, 2013 Another key is how Cingrani holds up health wise. I really like him as a starter if he can stay healthy. Norwood Nate December 19, 2013 Me too. I’m counting on him being a mainstay in the rotation. I’m glad his injuries weren’t arm related. Even if we can just retain Latos, throwing out him, Stephenson, Cingrani, Moscot, Rogers in 2016 would be a pretty good option. If you can re-sign Leake too, then I think you’ve got one helluva rotation. Alan Horn December 19, 2013 Youth is on our side. I think staying away from injuries will be the key going forward. Shaun December 19, 2013 With 4 pitchers eligible for free agency in the next 2 seasons who do the Reds keep? I think they need to extend 2 of them to stay at or near the top of division. It’s good to see the depth we have but outside of Stephenson most are a long ways away from Cincinnati. Kevin December 19, 2013 Great post. Looking fwd to the series. I’m very worried about what it will cost to lock up Bailey or Latos. The time has already passed to leverage any scouting and analysis advantage to lock them for cheaper than FA prices. So at that point, you either need to see more money coming into the coffers to pay one of them, or you need to be very confident you’ll get your money’s worth (meaning no injuries, and effectiviness over the length of the contract, which will probably be at least 4 years…and that’s a tremendous amount or risk for a team that can’t literally and figuratively afford mistakes in payroll and stay competitive. Doug Gray December 19, 2013 I think it will take at least 5/80 to lock up Bailey long term. Latos is probably looking 6/110 or so. The good thing about having talent is that you have talent. The bad thing is, it is very expensive to keep those guys around long term. Jake December 20, 2013 I’m guessing they’ll be able to lock up at least Latos. Considering they just bought a house here and seeing how much Mat and Dallas love Cincy from their tweets/press comments, they seem happy here. It’ll cost money, no doubt, but there should be some financial flexibility there with all the other young arms in the system. If Bailey shows no interest in a long-term deal or has an astronomical asking price, I’d let him go at the end of the year for the draft pick and work on extending Cueto and Cingrani to go along with Latos. Doug Gray December 20, 2013 There is no reason to extend Cingrani. He is a Red for the next 6 years without extending him. Beard December 20, 2013 If the projected 2014 rotation is: Latos, Bailey, Cueto, Leake, and Cingrini (and I think that is pretty much consensus at this point), then do you think the Reds could keep 3 of those beyond 2015? How about 4 of them? Obviously, Cingrini will be around because he is so early in his career and so cheap to retain. Doug, I think my question(s) for you would be, if you had to guess, what are the % chances of: Latos being a Red in 2016? Bailey being a Red in 2016? Cueto being a Red in 2016? Leake being a Red in 2016? Doug Gray December 20, 2013 Latos: 30% (I think they would target him the most of the guys to keep) Bailey:20% Cueto: 10% Leake: 40% (He will be the cheapest one to keep) tim December 20, 2013 Latos keeps improving every year he is here so they might want to get that long term deal done now because the better numbers he puts up the more money he will be worth. I have a feeling in 2014 or 2015 his ERA will be below 3.