Cincinnati Reds #19 Prospect: RHP Austin Brice Doug Gray January 23, 2017 18 Comments When Austin Brice began the 2016 season he was assigned to Double-A Jacksonville in the Marlins organization. The season began well for Brice, who was starting for the Suns. In his first three starts of the year he didn’t allow an earned run. He threw 6.0, 5.0 and 5.0 innings with 15 strikeouts and four walks. It wasn’t until April 25th that he allowed an earned run. Against Montgomery he gave up three runs in 6.0 innings with four strikeouts. The final start of April saw him allow a run in 6.0 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. For the month the righty had a 1.29 ERA in 28.0 innings. That came with just six walks and 23 strikeouts. May began with an interesting start against Jackson on the 6th. Austin Brice allowed a run with just one hit in 5.0 innings. That did come along with four walks in the game, though. It was the next time out that was a real struggle. Biloxi scored five earned in 5.0 innings with another unearned run mixed in. The right hander rebounded well to finish the month. In the next three starts he allowed just four earned in 17.2 innings with 13 strikeouts. In 27.2 innings for May he posted a 3.25 ERA with 11 walks and 21 strikeouts. That good stretch continued into June for Austin Brice. He was charged with an unearned run in 6.2 innings with seven strikeouts on the 2nd. Things went south from there, however. In the next two starts he allowed 10 earned in 9.2 innings with five walks and eight strikeouts. That led to a shift to the bullpen for the right handed pitcher. That conversion went about as well as one could imagine. In the final three weeks of the month he only made five appearances as he transitioned to the new role, but allowed just two hits and a walk in 6.1 innings with no runs and eight strikeouts. Over 22.2 innings he posted a 3.97 ERA with eight walks and 23 strikeouts. July saw the transition to the bullpen continue to go well. Austin Brice threw 4.1 shutout innings to begin the month before having some struggles on the 11th. Against Birmingham he allowed three runs over 3.0 innings. The next two weeks went well as he allowed just two hits in 3.2 innings with three strikeouts. The final week of July didn’t go quite as smooth. The righty allowed three runs and eight hits in 4.0 innings. In his first full month as a reliever he posted a 3.60 ERA in 15.0 innings with four walks and 12 strikeouts. Austin Brice was promoted to Triple-A to begin August. After one appearance he was promoted to Miami. In his debut he threw a perfect inning with two strikeouts on the 12th. Four days later he was sent back to Triple-A. Brice didn’t pitch again until the 18th, but made four appearances over the next eight days. With New Orleans he allowed just one hit in 6.2 shutout innings with six strikeouts. The Marlins recalled him on the 29th. From August 30th through September 24th Austin Brice pitched quite well for the Marlins. In 11.2 innings he had just two walks and 12 strikeouts to go along with five hits. His ERA was still 3.86 as almost every runner he allowed scored (only one didn’t – despite just one solo home run being allowed). It was the final three appearances that held back what had been a very good run to begin his career. In 1.1 innings over those three games he allowed six runs and three walks with just one strikeout. For Austin Brice it was a big year in several ways. He made the transition into a new role as a reliever mid-season. That led to him making his big league debut in August and spending over a month there. He performed better as a reliever than as a starter, though he had success in both roles. Level ERA IP H HR BB K WHIP AA 2.89 93.1 79 5 29 79 1.16 AAA 1.04 8.2 3 1 1 10 0.46 MLB 7.07 14.0 9 2 5 14 1.00 For all 2017 Prospect Ranking Scouting Reports – click here. Austin Brice Scouting Report [private_subscriber] Fastball | As a reliever in the big leagues we’ve got cold, hard data that tells us that Austin Brice averaged 95 MPH and topped out at 98. He throws both a two and four-seam fastball, though the two-seamer gets more usage. Both pitches show some armside running action and outstanding sinking action on his two-seamer. Slider | It’s a power pitch that works in the upper 80’s. It’s got a little bit of cutting action to it as well. It flashes itself as an above-average offering. Curveball | It’s a power curveball that works in the 79-82 MPH range. It’s a solid-average pitch. When the Reds acquired Austin Brice and I began reading other scouting report on him, I felt that he was going to wind up being a non-top 25 prospect for my list. Then I began to take a deeper look at things and watch some video and that all changed. Brice can throw a mid 90’s sinking fastball with outstanding late sink. It’s almost like a change up in how it fades under a bat – except that it’s coming in at 96 MPH. He’s got two breaking balls to work with, which should help him handle right handed hitters well – though his lack of a change up could leave him with some struggles against lefties in the long run. There’s plenty of stuff and I love the fastball movement combined with the velocity. I believe it will play well. When you combine that with his ability to throw strikes, he’s looks like a guy who profiles quite well in the bullpen, even if he’s not likely to be a premiere 8th or 9th inning guy. He’s ready to pitch in the big leagues right now and have success in far more than a mop up kind of role. [/private_subscriber] 18 Responses redleggingfordayz January 23, 2017 I like the sound of this kid and his stuff. Just goes to show how a guys stuff can really play up when switching from starter to reliever. And since he did it just midway through the season, I bet he still has more of a feel to get used to things, so we could see even more productivity moving forward. Love me some sinking fastballs, good write up, Doug. Do you see him possibly being a multiple innings guy that DW and Co. have been known to like? Doug Gray January 23, 2017 It’s certainly possible that he could fill that kind of role if they chose to put him in it. He’s got the background to handle it. The question is, would the stuff hold up like it does for 1-inning stints. That is something we just don’t know at this point. Matthew O'Neal January 23, 2017 Do you see him making the 25 man out of ST? He had good numbers in AAA, but he has a total of 5 games at that level. He showed he could handle it, but might be good to take some more time there. Personally, I’m thinking he starts at AAA, but could easily force his way to Cincinnati with a good showing! Doug Gray January 23, 2017 Yes, I think he’s going to break camp with the Reds as the roster sits right now. That could change if they add other pieces, but right now, yes. Gaffer January 23, 2017 That is about as high as a Doug rates relievers, especially not closers. Doug Gray January 23, 2017 Pretty much. A guy like Herget or Hernandez, or even Mella if he does get moved to the bullpen, could move closer to the Top 10 if they show upper level success because they’ve got stuff that profiles as 8th or better types. Brice doesn’t quite match up with those three stuff wise – but there’s plenty of stuff there and the fact that I believe he’s big league ready right now pushes him to the #19 spot. I don’t see too much risk involved with him as a big league reliever, so that impacts his ranking here. DaveCT January 23, 2017 Heya, Doug, how does Brice’s stuff compare to Astin’s? Seems like we are looking at two guys who may arrive sooner rather than later. DaveCT January 23, 2017 Very, very interesting comments by Terry Francona yesterday, from a benefit he attended in Boston. I believe Nick Carfardo covered it. In essence, he downplayed the use of Andrew Miller in two inning stints during the season. Basically said no way, only in the playoffs or in the season’s final week to get into the playoffs. Franconia felt the risk of injury was far too high. So what does that say to this club’s intent to use two of our very best arms in that capacity? This would apply to both front office and Price’s tough love use of pitchers on the staff. Doug Gray January 23, 2017 Well, I doubt they are going to be going multiple innings every time out. And I really doubt we will see them going 2 innings, or more, in back to back outings with only one days rest between like you would have seen in the playoffs. Cam. January 23, 2017 I’ve heard a few managers echo similar thoughts re: not being able to employ multiple inning strategy throughout the regular season and my thought is always that nobody is suggesting that is sustainable. Nobody was saying the Aroldis Chapman should pitch the 8th and 9th every night. We were only saying we wish there was more of a willingness to bring him in early if the situation dictated such. I feel like the managers are still missing the boat a bit. Bill January 23, 2017 I think Francona is spot on–this is not the way to use a “closer.” It will take 2-3 pitchers trusted to pitch in high-leverage situations to execute the strategy–not really what has become the “closer” model. This strategy will require rest between appearances in contrast to more traditional reliever usage where relievers are generally expected to be available everyday. I would think this strategy would result in fewer times warming up in the bullpen, given there would be days of unavailability following multiple inning outings. The fewer warmups may also mitigate the additional innings. sixpacktwo January 24, 2017 Well said. A lot of times people do not count the warm ups, but they are still throwing. Cam. January 23, 2017 I think Brice has a good chance to break camp with the big club. Assuming a 7-man bullpen, here’s how things are looking: Lorenzen, Iglesias, Storen, Cingrani, Diaz, Wood, and Brice. Not the Indians, Cubs, or O’s, but you could do worse in a bullpen. And that’s before you get into some of the young guys that Brian Price has suggested could see time in the pen to ease in to big league ball. Reason for a little optimism, I think. Brad January 23, 2017 For Iglesias, Lorenzon, Brice usage: if they throw every 3 games, 2 innings per appearance, that is 54 appearances for 104 innings. Sure, more than usual 1-inning relievers but not a daunting number. Outing length determined by effectiveness and pitch efficiency. Plus, I don’t mind having Lorenzon and possibly Iglesias handle the bat. Total of 1458 innings thrown for season (162 x 9) Starters: Bailey 200, Desclafani 200, Finnegan 175, 4th 150, 5th 150 = 875 1458-875=583 2 2-inning RP (Lorenzon + Iglesias) = 208, 104×2 375 remaining innings for 5 RP at 75 per RP Does not account for September Matthew O'Neal January 24, 2017 I think 200 might be pushing it for Homer. Could see it for disco and Finnegan though. Arnold Ziffle January 24, 2017 With Brice he has a fastball that averages 95.5 mph with some late movement, low BB rate , good K rate and misses bats, might have the makings of a future closer. It’ll be interesting to see what he does in spring training. A future starter and a future closer, if that is what they turn out to be, is a great haul for Dan Straily. Warren McLean January 24, 2017 After the trade of Straily, the Reds would have done well to sign Brett Anderson — like the Cubs just did. When healthy, the kid can pitch in the MLB. Low risk, high return sign for the Cubs… Doug Gray January 24, 2017 Low risk, yes. But he’s got a deal with incentives that could pay him $10M in 2017. We don’t know what they are yet, but that’s a lot of money for the Reds to spend in a rebuilding year on a free agent. I’d rather just go with the young guys (or Adleman) and cycle through options if guys aren’t performing well enough.