Last week Cincinnati Reds 2014 1st Rounder Nick Howard made his home debut with the Dayton Dragons after making two appearances to begin his career on the road. While I didn’t have a front row seat last week, I was able to sneak into the 5th or 6th row to get a good look at Howard. I was able to get some video and have taken clips of each of his pitches.  You can watch it below.

I decided to include two fastballs in the video, one against a right hander and one against a left hander to give a good look with someone from each side of the plate.

This season is relatively short for Howard, having appeared in just five games so far and totaling just 7.1 innings with a 3.68 ERA. The right hander has allowed a walk and struck out seven batters while giving up two home runs out of the bullpen. After working as the closer for Virginia this year while in college, the Reds have stated that the plan is to have him finish out the season in the bullpen and then have him transition back to the rotation for the 2015 season where he had worked in previous college seasons.

Scouting Report

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Fastball | While the stadium radar gun in Dayton has been accurate most of the year, on this night it was a little bit off. I was sitting directly in front of the visiting team that was charting the game and their gun was several MPH different from the stadium gun. I confirmed with a scout and the stadium gun was indeed slow. Howard sat 95-96 MPH with the fastball in his 1.2 innings pitched on this night. He hit 97 a few times and topped out at 98 MPH once. You can see the 98 MPH pitch in the video, it is the first pitch. The second fastball in the video is at 95, and you can see the armside run that the pitch gets as it nears the plate.

The pitch showed good control, elite velocity and some good action on it. We know that the pitch plays well in the bullpen, but with the transition to the rotation, the big question is more about how it will play there. The control and movement should remain the same. Where it falls in terms of velocity will be key. In the 2013 season in college the pitch was 90-93 as a starter.

Slider | The breaking ball that Howard goes to is in the 85-87 MPH range and is more of a true slider with downward biting action than a slurvy pitch. It doesn’t have hard biting action though. It’s an average pitch at this point in time and may be slightly above-average in the future.

Change Up | This wasn’t a pitch he used much in college, but in the outing I saw he went to it as often as he used his slider. The pitch was 86-87 MPH and showed some armside run and some sink to it. It was better than I expected it to be given prior reports I had read. He throws it with the same arm speed as the fastball, using a circle change grip and sells it well. Draft reports said it was a below-average pitch, but I have it better than that, as an average pitch today.

Mechanics | Howard has a smooth delivery from a 3/4 arm slot. Nothing in his motion indicates any future arm issues, at least from a mechanical standpoint.

Other | At 6′ 3″ and 215 lbs with smooth mechanics, Howard has the body type that should be able to handle starting pitching at the professional level. Size doesn’t always make it so a guy can hold his stuff through seven innings, but it usually helps. That is working in the favor of Howard. He is already showing three usable pitches out of the gate, so the pitch repertoire should not be much of an issue. How his stamina and ultimately the fastball work as a starter will be key points in whether the Reds stick with him as a starter or make the move back to a back-end reliever in the long run. For now, I’m cautiously optimistic.

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3 Responses

  1. The Duke

    Good report, sounds like we have another good arm in the system. You can never have too many.