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When the 2015 season began, Tanner Rainey was still pitching for the University of West Alabama. The Cincinnati Reds would pick him 71st overall (2nd round) in the 2015 draft. He would sign quickly and be assigned to the Billings Mustangs. His first start would go well, tossing 2.0 shutout innings on the 22nd of June against Missoula. The next time out he would struggle, allowing four earned runs in 2.1 innings with two walks and two strikeouts. That would wrap up June, making just two starts where he allowed four runs over 4.1 innings with four walks and five strikeouts.

July got out with a nice start against Helena, allowing an unearned run in 4.1 innings without a walk and five strikeouts. That was followed up by three poor starts in a row as the right hander gave up nine earned runs over 8.2 innings with four walks and eight strikeouts. On the 25th he would start against Helena and allow two runs on a hit and three walks over 5.0 innings. That was followed up with 4.2 shutout innings on the 31st with two walks and six strikeouts. The month had inconsistencies en route to posting a 4.37 ERA in 22.2 innings with nine walks and 21 strikeouts.

August got out to a strong start, building on what had been done at the end of July. In his first three starts he allowed just three runs in 14.2 innings (1.84 ERA) with just four walks and 16 strikeouts. Things didn’t go as smoothly over the next three starts as Rainey posted a 7.11 ERA in 12.2 innings with eight walks and 12 strikeouts. He would finish out the season on September 8th against Great Falls, being charged with an unearned run in 4.2 innings with three walks and three strikeouts. Over his final seven starts he allowed 15 walks and had 31 strikeouts in 32.0 innings with a 3.66 ERA.

The season was an inconsistent one for Tanner Rainey. He would have good stretches, but would follow them up with rough stretches. The rough stretches were usually times where he would struggle with his control. Overall on the season he had 28 walks in 59.0 innings, a rate that’s going to need to improve.

ERA IP H HR BB K WHIP
4.27 59.0 58 2 28 57 1.46

Scouting Report

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Fastball | The pitch generally worked in the 92-95 MPH range and touched a little higher every so often. His velocity would slip some as he would get deeper into games.

Slider | The slider is an above-average pitch today and it will flash itself as a plus offering at times.

Change Up | Clearly his third pitch, it’s a below-average offering right now. It’s still a new pitch that he’s just started working on in 2015, and it made improvements during the season.

Tanner Rainey has a big time arm to work with. He spent his time in college as a reliever, never throwing more than 28.1 innings in a single college season. The workload he had in 2015 between college and his time in Billings was a big step up from any of his previous workloads. There are still some concerns that he can’t make the transition as a starter. Part of that is due to the change up not being a pitch that he can count on yet and part of it is due to his struggles with control. He’s athletic and has clean mechanics, so there’s a chance he can improve both of those parts of his game with more time out on the mound, and the Reds will seemingly give it to him. If his transition to a starter doesn’t work, the fallback plan to the bullpen could fast track him where his fastball and slider combination would play quite well out of the back of a bullpen.

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2 Responses

  1. The Duke

    I’ll be pretty surprised if he doesn’t end up in the bullpen, but starting him for a year or two to work on his control in longer stretches may not be the worst idea. Even in the bullpen you can’t walk 5 guys per 9 IP and be successful, unless you strike out guys like Chapman does.

    • Doug Gray

      No, you can’t walk that many guys, but most guys, once moved to the bullpen, lower the walk rate they had as a starter. Focusing on less pitches and throwing harder tends to allow that.