Cincinnati Reds Top Prospects: RHP Barrett Astin Doug Gray December 19, 2016 7 Comments After struggling in the second half of 2015 with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Barrett Astin returned to Florida for the start of 2016. The season got out to a strong start. In the first week of the year, Astin made four appearances and threw 5.2 shutout innings. He would only make one appearance the next week and he allowed two runs in two innings against Biloxi. In the final two appearances of April, the right handed threw 4.0 combined shutout innings. For the month he would post a 1.54 ERA in 11.2 innings with just one walk and 10 strikeouts. May got out to a bit of a rough start. In the first three games, Barrett Astin allowed five runs across 7.0 innings. He would toss 2.2 shutout innings on the 12th against Chattanooga, but then find himself moved into the rotation for three straight starts.On the 16th, Astin would allowed two runs in 3.2 innings with two walks and three strikeouts. Things went batter the next time out, sort of. While he walked four batters in 3.0 innings, the righty allowed one run and had four strikeouts. He would cap off the month with 1-run allowed over 5.0 innings with three strikeouts. Splitting time between the rotation and bullpen, Astin had a 3.80 ERA in May with nine walks and 20 strikeouts. When June began, Barrett Astin found himself back int he Pensacola bullpen. He would threw 3.0 shutout innings on the 2nd and return for 0.2 shutout innings on the 5th. His success continued into the second week as he allowed one run in three games, covering 4.2 innings. Astin moved back into the rotation for the second game of a double header on the 16th, allowed one earned in 4.0 innings. He didn’t pitch again until the 27th, making another start and struggling, allowing five runs in 4.1 innings. The right hander returned to the bullpen and finished out june with a shutout inning on the 30th. In another month where he split time between the rotation and bullpen he posted a 3.57 ERA in 17.2 innings with seven walks and 14 strikeouts. The first half of July got out to a very nice start for Barrett Astin. In four appearances he was charged with two unearned runs in 7.0 innings with no walks and eight strikeouts. In the third week of the month he would make two more relief appearances, being charged with two more unearned runs in 1.2 combined innings. The final week would see the then 24-year-old return to the rotation. On the 24th he would allow a solo home run as the lone hit in 5.0 innings against Biloxi. The month was completed with 6.0 shutout innings with eight strikeouts against Montgomery. The month was downright dominant for Astin as he posted a 0.46 ERA in 19.2 innings with just 11 hits allowed, two walks and 21 strikeouts. After a month where he ran through the Southern League things slowed town slightly in August. Barrett Astin allowed two runs in 5.2 innings with a walk and six strikeouts on the 4th. He would return to the bullpen the next week, tossing 3.2 shutout innings on the 9th before struggling on the 11th. Against Tennessee he allowed three runs in 3.1 innings. After eight days Astin returned to the mound, making a start against Mississippi. He owned the Braves on the day, tossing 6.0 shutout innings with a walk and eight strikeouts. In his next start he allowed two runs in 6.1 innings with a walk and five strikeouts. The best may have been saved for the last start of August, tossing 7.0 shutout innings with seven strikeouts. On Septemeber 4th he’d make his final appearance, tossing a perfect inning of relief. Over the final five weeks he continued his dominance that began in July, posting a 1.91 ERA in 33.0 innings that were split between the rotation and bullpen. That came along with six walks and 31 strikeouts. Barrett Astin performed incredibly well on the year, posting a 2.26 ERA in 2016 for Double-A Pensacola. He found success as both a starter (2.41 ERA) and a reliever (2.09 ERA) with a WHIP under 1.00 in both roles. He pitched very well in the second half, going 53.2 innings with a 1.34 ERA, eight walks and 53 strikeouts in his final 16 games. Astin did show success against lefties and righties, but left handers performed much better against him. All eight home runs he allowed were to lefties, and they slugged .414 against him (.222 average against). He destroyed right handers, who managed a .184/.246/.218 line against him on the season. His performance during the regular season, and then in the Arizona Fall League cemented his spot on the 40-man roster following the 2016 campaign. Level IP H ERA HR BB K PEN 103.1 74 2.26 8 25 96 For all 2017 Prospect Ranking Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out one per weekday over the offseason). Barrett Astin Scouting Report [private_subscriber] Fastball | As a reliever, Barrett Astin works in the 93-95 MPH range, though he worked a tad higher while in the Arizona Fall League after the 2016 season. Slider/Cutter | His main secondary offering, the pitch works in the 87-91 MPH range. It’s an above-average offering with short, 12-6 breaking action. Change Up | This pitch doesn’t show up too often as a reliever, but it’s in his arsenal. It’s got solid movement in the mid 80’s, but can be a bit firm at times. It’s a fringe-average offering when it’s at it’s best. While he was used as a starter and reliever in the 2016 season, his future is in the bullpen. There he can let his fastball and slider/cutter play quite well with good velocity and an ability to throw plenty of strikes. He had a very strong strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2016, though he’s more of a control guy than a command guy. In the game today his stuff profiles more as a 7th inning type, but he also fits perfectly with what the Reds are looking for in possible multi-inning relievers. Don’t be surprised ie he makes a strong push to break big league camp in the bullpen in the spring. He throws strikes, he’s got stuff and the multi-inning thing really could play into his favor even without any Triple-A experience. [/private_subscriber] 7 Responses Michael Green December 19, 2016 I’m pretty high on Astin. Let’s see what we got here. DaveCT December 19, 2016 May have a typo in the last paragraph (‘righties performed much better against him.’). Doug Gray December 19, 2016 I did. I fixed it earlier, but forgot to respond with a thanks for pointing it out. Appreciate it. Matthew O'Neal December 19, 2016 If Astin can perform well to start the year in Louisville, he may find himself on the fast track to the pen in Cincinnati. Having experience as both a starter and reliever, I like him to be another multi-inning relief guy along with Iglesias and Lorenzen (though I don’t think he quite plays as a closer-type, he could easily handle a 6th and 7th or a 7th/8th type of role). Hoping for bright things from him! redleggingfordayz December 19, 2016 Doug, I was wondering what your thoughts are on teams moving players between starting and relieving a lot during a minor league season. I have no evidence if it is good or bad for players and their future, but I know they have totally different mindsets when it comes to preparation. Do you think it affects them at all? And do you think if the Reds know what one player is going to be (ie. Astin in the BP), do you think they should only be in the minor league pen, or do you like the flexibility it gives them? DaveCT December 19, 2016 Not Doug, but I’d wager this is highly dependent upon the individual, specifically whether he has any history starting and then getting him stretched out to begin starting again. Doug Gray December 19, 2016 I think it certainly plays on some guys more than others. With a guy like Astin/Guillon, they are former starters, so they are a bit more conditioned to it. The long term role thing though, that’s not really in play. Many teams keep guys starting as long as they can, even if they know that it’s highly likely that they will be a reliever, because it gives them more chances to refine everything. You just get more reps as a starter. So, if a guy can actually handle the usage/workload, many teams go that route until its either obvious they can’t do it any longer (because they can’t handle the workload, or they just can’t perform enough to keep them in the rotation), or they can be fast tracked in the relief role. I think that teams generally handle things well with the keep them as a starter as long as you can. Some guys just don’t have the mechanics to handle the starting thing, some guys don’t have enough pitches to handle the starting thing, some guys don’t have the stamina to handle the starting thing. But the guys who do, even if it’s just enough to be a minor league starter, I’d keep them there as long as I could. The reasoning it two fold: first, what if they just figure something out that was unexpected and can now actually be a big league starter? That’s an enmormous boost in future value. Second, it definitely gets them more reps on the mound to work on things. Now, at a certain point, say, Double-A/Triple-A, I start to weed out the “for sure” relievers that may still be starting and move them into the bullpen. This is obviously me generalizing, because a plan needs to be more catered towards each player.