When the Cincinnati Reds drafted Tanner Rainey they first had the idea to put him into the rotation. That lasted for 2015 and most of 2016, but in August of that season he moved to the bullpen and found all kinds of success. In 2017 the transition to reliever was complete as the right hander spent the entire season coming out of the bullpen.

To say that April got out to a good start for Tanner Rainey would be the understatement of the year. In his first six appearances for the Daytona Tortugas he threw 8.0 innings where the only base runner that reached came on an error. He walked no one, allowed no hits, and struck out 18 of the 25 batters he faced. On the 20th he finally allowed a hit, and even gave up a run, but closed out the month with a solid final ten days. He would pitch often, making 11 appearances over 24 days. Still, he dominated the Florida State League with a 1.50 ERA, one walk and 20 strikeouts in 12.0 innings.

May began with things going in the same direction for Tanner Rainey. Over the first half of the month he allowed just one run in 8.2 innings. That came with 16 more strikeouts and just two walks. The only hit he allowed was a solo home run. It was the second half of the month that saw things start to go south. In four games he allowed seven runs in 2.1 innings with five walks and just two strikeouts. That late stretch led to an ERA of 6.55 in 11.0 innings with seven walks and 18 strikeouts over 10 games.

The struggles kept going for Tanner Rainey for most of June. The 23-year-old right hander made just seven appearances on the month for Daytona. He allowed at least one run in five of those games, and walked eight batters in 9.0 innings. That did come with 15 strikeouts, but led to an ERA of 7.00.

After a month-and-a-half of struggles, July saw things turn around for Tanner Rainey. Over the first half of the month he allowed just one run on two hits in 7.0 innings with 13 strikeouts. The second half wasn’t quite as good, but was still a strong showing. In six games he allowed two earned in 7.0 innings with two walks and 12 more strikeouts. The last outing of that stretch came for Pensacola after he earned a promotion late in the month.

In the first two weeks of August things were solid, but inconsistent for Tanner Rainey in Pensacola. He allowed just on earned run, but did walk five batters in five outings over 6.1 innings. That came with 11 strikeouts, but he also hit two batters in that stretch, too. On the 17th the righty allowed a solo home run against Mississippi. It was the last run he would allow on the season. Over the next seven games and 8.2 innings Rainey allowed just one hit and struck out 14 batters with five walks. In the final five weeks of the regular season he posted a 1.13 ERA in 16.0 innings. Control was a problem as he walked 11 batters and hit two more. But, he missed plenty of bats, striking out 26.

For all 2017 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Tanner Rainey Scouting Report

Fastball | A plus to plus-plus offering depending on how much you want to ding the pitch for his control of it. The fastball works in the mid-to-upper-90’s and can hit triple digits.

Slider | Another pitch with the potential to be a plus or plus-plus offering. It’s not currently there, it’s an above-average pitch in it’s current form. But, every so often it will be plus and will even flash plus-plus. It works in the 87-91 MPH range with good biting action.

When looking at the raw stuff, Tanner Rainey looks like a future closer. The big thing holding him back from that right now is his control. He walked 13% of the batters he faced in 2017, which is a bit higher than you’d like to see – even from a reliever. That rate jumped up to 16% in limited action with Pensacola. Ideally you would like to see the rate at, or below 10%. Without improvements in the walk rate, Rainey profiles more as a 6th or 7th inning reliever. But if he can make strides in the strikezone the sky is the limit at the back end of the bullpen.

15 Responses

  1. Kap

    Seems like every time a team drafts a college reliever and intend to translate them to a starter, most of the time are unsuccessful and they are moved back to reliever. I understand starters are more valuable, but it seems it a waste of development time. Rainey is an example. just something I noticed.

    • Bill

      I would think the additional reps working on improved mechanics pitchers get working as a starter would accelerate their development. In Rainey’s case it would seem there is still work to be done to improve the command and control of his offerings.

    • MK

      Didn’t work with Cingrani, Lorenzen, Howard now Rainey. College coaches aren’t stupid and there are reasons they make guys relievers. Whether it physical or mental in these cases they have been correct. As someone who watched Rainey go from starter to reliever in Dayton, you could see the difference in demeanor and body language on the mound

      • Bill

        I would offer that Lorenzen was sent to the pen to protect his elbow, not due to performance. If you look at his ascent to the majors, you’ll see he was clearly rushed in his development as a starter. Additionally, his college coach used him as the teams everyday centerfielder.

        Iglesias had a pretty good showing as a starter after mostly relieving in Cuba. Cingrani did well initially, too. But that said, I agree, these are all human beings and their personality and makeup can make them a better fit for one role over the other.

  2. The Duke

    The same old song and dance. “He’s going to be great!!!…….if he can figure out his control”. If it were only that easy. If it were the Reds would have a dynamite future back of the bullpen with Rainey and Ariel Hernandez. I’d assume he starts the year back in Pensacola with an eye towards a midseason promotion to Louisville if he is progressing well. Since he isn’t on the 40 man roster I highly doubt we see him in Cincy until the 2019 season at some point, not to mention the big back log of relievers we need to sort through this year.

    I suppose it’s possible he forces his way up if he just flat out dominates AA and then AAA, but I would classify that as a good problem to have as if he puts it all together, then he could potentially step right into a set up role behind Raisel Iglesias and maybe make an Iglesias trade palatable if a haul could be had (or a top 25 prospect plus a couple solid pieces).

    • Colorado Red

      I think this is true with a lot of “TOP 30 PROSPECTS” per team.
      Good stuff but major issues.
      If anyone of these prospects nails it, they can be good

  3. AirborneJayJay

    It is nice to see Tanner Rainey progress. Future closer is a good peg on him.
    Command and control. Who, or which ones, can master both?
    A good line is forming in the sorting for future bullpen pieces.
    Weiss, Herget, A. Hernandez, Rainey, and Hendrix. Keury Mella and Jackson Stephens are probably added soon to this mix. A couple of more starters might find their way tot he pen also. I always forget about Moscot coming back from injury and wonder where he might fit in here. And if Nick Howard can ever get his head on straight. It is like with the young rotation starters, if, if, if, if, and if.

    • The Duke

      Supposedly, Nick Howard looked real good in fall instructionals, but i’ll believe it when it starts translating in games.

      • AirborneJayJay

        Yes. I remember Doug mentioning something about this back in the fall. It would certainly be nice for Howard to get back to being a 1st round type of prospect, or close to it. His outings in spring training will be something to check into as the spring evolves.
        I just hope the Reds don’t tempt fate and move him back into a rotation spot with that fall showing. Keep him in the pen.

      • The Duke

        I’d have to think Howard’s career as a starter is over. If the Reds can salvage a decent middle reliever out of him at this point, count it a win.

  4. Michael B. Green

    Here is where Danny Darwin can show how value he is by working with Rainey to start the season at AA. Not to knock the AAA pitching coach but working with Darwin for a month or two and then testing him in AAA should help Rainey.

    If he can improve his F-Str%, you are going to see two quick promotions for Rainey and then comes the test of all rookies: Trusting your stuff at the major league level.

    I really like Rainey for the next contending CIN pen (2019 wild card and 2020 contender). Very interested to see how Weiss does this year too.

    The Hughes and Hernandez signings allowed CIN to avoid rushing these two excellent relief prospects.

    • The Duke

      Weiss, Herget, Rainey, Ariel Hernandez, Hendrix, the Reds have some interesting arms for bullpen possibilities over the next few years, and that’s not even counting the guys who don’t make the rotation. It’ll be fun to follow.

  5. Cguy

    Rainey got an invite to ST as a non-roster player, so maybe we’ll get to see him a few times before he’s sent to minor league camp.

  6. Ty

    What’s the draft opinion on Luke Heimlich? He posted an ERA of .76 last year and is clearly one of the best college pitchers available for the draft. Is he so volatile that he can’t be mentioned in draft conversation, or is he not worthy of being in th top 30? I wouldn’t mind seeing the Reds pick him at #3.