The Cincinnati Reds have signed right handed reliever Louis Coleman to a minor league deal. He’s also been given a non-roster invite to spring training.

The 30-year-old pitched out of the Dodgers bullpen in 2016. He appeared in 61 games and threw 48.0 innings. With Los Angeles he posted a 4.69 ERA with 24 walks and 45 strikeouts. He burst onto the scene with Kansas City in 2011 and from 2011-2013 he posted a 2.69 ERA in 140.1 innings with 161 strikeouts.

One issue with Coleman has been a higher end walk rate. In the last three seasons his walk rates has been 11.7%, 18.2% (this is Joey Votto’s walk rate, essentially.) and 11.4%. Only in 2013, when he had just 29.2 innings, was his walk rate below 10.7%.

Coleman is mainly a fastball and slider pitcher, going with a 55-45 split between the two offerings for most of his career. It was in 2016 with the Dodgers where he went away from that, however. The Dodgers had him throw significantly more sliders than ever before. He’s thrown 45% sliders twice in his career (2011 and 2013). However, he threw a slider 56% of the time last year.

The fastball has never been an overpowering pitch, averaging just over 90 MPH for his career (without much change in velocity). For his career it’s been an average Major League pitch. The slider has been an above-average pitch for the course of his career, but it’s been below-average for the last three years.

The Reds are certainly looking for pitching depth and bullpen help, and Louis Coleman is that. However, there’s one big thing that makes me wonder if he’s not the right fit for Cincinnati. He’s an extreme fly ball pitcher. For his career he’s a 33% groundball guy. That’s been better the last four seasons. Still, in 2015 he was a 37.5% groundball guy and in 2016 it was 34.8%. Flyballs in Cincinnati don’t tend to turn out well.

What could be interesting is to see what he could do as a right handed specialist. In 2016 he dominated righties, but was destroyed by lefties. Right handers hit .232/.302/.394 with 13 walks and 38 strikeouts against him. Lefties hit .316/.480/.500 against him with more walks than strikeouts. That hasn’t always been the case, though. In 2014 he held lefties to a .629 OPS and righties had a .971 OPS against him. Perhaps it’s just statistical noise, but maybe there’s something there.

As a non-roster invitee on a minor league deal this is a fine deal. There’s nothing wrong with taking a look-see on a guy, especially one with big league experience. Maybe there’s something in his pitch usage that the team saw that they believe they can alter to improve the results that will let his stuff play a little bit better.

7 Responses

  1. Michael B. Green

    His flyball tendencies may not hurt in April and if he accepts some AAA time, he’d probably have some value on a west coast road trip that does not include COL.

    He could keep a spot warm until a youngster earns the job – rather just being given such.

    Funky delivery might provide a different look too.

    • Hoyce

      Darn. Actually thought this was the Cuban kid when I first read the headline.

  2. Simon Cowell

    The team that won the world series has made more changes to improve themselves than the lowly Reds. Let that sink in. Think you will see a championship in Cincinnati in your lifetime? They will not be a championship team again unless they compete with other teams at all levels and that includes free agency If the Reds keep stuffing their farm system with failures from other organizations we’ll never see another playoff game.

    • Doug Gray

      The Cubs, and every other team also sign “failures from other organizations” to minor league deals. Every team needs minor league depth.

      The Reds aren’t trying to compete in 2017. The Reds are trying to figure out what they need to compete in 2018. That means filling in small gaps and seeing what these guys can do: Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, Jose Peraza, Dilson Herrera, Brandon Finnegan, Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, Jesse Winker.

      That’s what 2017 is about. Figuring out what those guys can do. If they can’t do what you think, THEN you hit the market to see what you can do to replace them/figure out another plan for that spot. Going out and spending money just for 2017 would be crazy. Fill in the small gaps, let the kids play and see what they’ve got.

  3. rick in boise

    if you hated Coleman…. from MLB Trade Rumors:
    (btw, Doug, your Coleman writeup was better than theirs!)

    Right-hander Deunte Heath has agreed to terms with the Reds on a minor league contract, as Baseball America’s Matt Eddy first reported. The deal comes with a $600K base salary in the Majors, I’m told. Heath, 31, last appeared in the Majors with the 2013 White Sox. He’s pitched just 9 2/3 innings at the big league level but has recently posted a 2.37 ERA in 101 1/3 innings between two campaigns with Japan’s Hiroshima Carp. He also pitched 46 1/3 innings with a 3.11 ERA in the Mexican League in 2016. Cincinnati also picked up catcher Adrian Nieto on a minors pact, per Eddy. The 27-year-old spent the 2014 season with the White Sox as a Rule 5 pick, hitting .236/.296/.340 with a pair of homers in 118 plate appearances. That’s been Nieto’s only big league exposure to this point, as he’s struggled greatly at Double-A and Triple-A in the two subsequent seasons. The 27-year-old switch-hitter posted a meager .195/.287/.257 batting line in 129 PAs with the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate last yea