Robert Stock, a 27-year-old right handed pitcher has signed with the Cincinnati Reds. The team inked him to a minor league deal last week according to Baseball America.

The background for Robert Stock is certainly an interesting one. He was the original Bryce Harper, at least in the sense that he graduated very early from high school to enroll in college. He played three years at USC as both a pitcher and a catcher. The St. Louis Cardinals drafted him, at 19-years-old, in the 2nd round. Entering the draft, many teams preferred him as a pitcher – but he preferred catching and was given that opportunity.

After hitting very well in the Appalachian League that first season (.322/.386/.550), he struggled with the bat moving forward. In 2012 he was moved to the mound. It had been a while since he last pitched at USC. With the Trojans he pitched out of the bullpen his first two seasons, throwing just 39.2 innings where he had 18 walks and 42 strikeouts with an ERA of 4.31. As a 19-year-old Junior he moved to the rotation for the second half of the season. In 77.2 innings that year he posted a 2.90 ERA with 39 walks and 86 strikeouts. His control had never been a strong point at USC, but he missed bats at a high rate when he was on the mound.

That trend continued in his first two seasons back on the mound with the Cardinals. In 109.1 innings he walked 74 batters and had 108 strikeouts. He worked out of the bullpen in 68 out of 70 games while pitching in Low and Advanced-A. In 2014 he returned Advanced-A Palm Beach and really struggled with his control out of the gate. In the first five weeks of the season he had walked 25 batters in 23.1 innings and while his ERA was 2.31, he was sent back to Low-A. His control did show improvement there, but he still had 21 walks in 40.0 innings the rest of the season. Stock was released after the year by St. Louis.

The next spring he was picked up by the Astros, but released at the end of spring training. The Pirates picked him up in May of that year, but they used him sparringly – only giving him 16.1 innings of use between three levels. In 16.1 innings he had 19 walks and 10 strikeouts. He was granted free agency after the season.

In 2016 he spent the year playing for New Jersey in the Canadian-American Association. Robert Stock posted a 2.85 ERA in 60.0 innings, all in relief. That came along with 40 walks and 73 strikeouts. Big strikeout numbers. Big walk numbers. That’s been the book for a while now with the right hander.

The Cincinnati Reds have had some success with signing guys who have had control issues in the past, but big time arms, and getting them moving in the right direction. Jumbo Diaz and Blake Wood both have turned in solid or better big league seasons after having some control issues in the minor leagues. Ariel Hernandez came out of nowhere last year after having enormous control problems in his past to join the teams 40-man roster after dominating in A-ball last season.

Robert Stock has a big time fastball. He’s also throwing a change and curveball. If his control can improve, that stuff will certainly play well. He posted a video on youtube two weeks ago of his first bullpen session of the year throwing to a catcher. Give it a watch – he’s throwing 97-98 MPH with a low 80’s curve and an upper 80’s change.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2004 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, contact him via email here or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

9 Responses

    • Sam P

      Let me expand on that. Why wouldn’t you add low-risk, high upside players? If he figures out how to keep the ball in/around the strike zone then he could be a useful piece. He’s also not taking important starting innings away from any young arms.

  1. MK

    Counted 50% strikes in bullpen video. Guess nothing ventured, nothing gained

  2. sultanofswaff

    Pre-season caveats and all………his curveball is unimpressive, especially for a reliever. He needs something to keep hitters off the cheese. I would think a change of arm angle/grip or tinkering with a cut fastball might prove beneficial. Still, the fastball will get him a long look. Clock is ticking.

  3. Michael

    Reds have the 9th ranked system according to mlb pipeline. Top 30 list also released.

  4. CP

    I see little chance of him making the ML club out of ST, but he could get a look and have an opportunity to rebuild some value in the minors. I just wonder where he will be placed in the minors….

    • Doug Gray

      He has no shot of making the team out of spring training because he’s not in big league camp.