Friday morning Cincinnati Reds news and notes Doug Gray March 9, 2018 10 Comments The Cincinnati Reds game tomorrow is live on Fox Sports Ohio at 8pm ET. The plan as things sit right now is for me to go live on Youtube for Reds Minor League Talk for at least some of that game. So if you are as unpopular as I am and have little going on for your Saturday night, feel free to join in. Now onto some real news. On Thursday afternoon the Reds took on the Colorado Rockies out in Arizona. The Rockies stadium has an active Trackman system linked to Gameday. That means we were able to get exit velocities for batted balls and pitch velocities for the pitchers. Let’s start with some quick data on the hitters. Brandon Dixon doubled in the 5th inning. The ball left the bat at 107 MPH and went 359 feet. Eugenio Suarez was the only other batter to reach triple-digits – he had a 100 MPH exit velocity out to left field in that same inning. The pitchers give us more fun data to look at. There were five pitchers on the day for the Reds. Let’s take a look at the velocities for each guy: All data from BrooksBaseball.net There’s a lot to unravel here, but let’s start with the two starters. Luis Castillo had the 2nd highest velocity of any starting pitcher in the Major Leagues last season at 97.5 MPH according to Fangraphs. He and Luis Severino both had a had a full MPH lead over third place among pitchers with at least 80.0 innings thrown. That third place guy? Castillo’s teammate Michael Lorenzen. Sal Romano, for the record, was 15th on the list at 95.3 MPH. The Reds best pitcher in 2017, Castillo was bringing the absolute heat on Thursday afternoon. He averaged 98.3 MPH between his two fastballs, and topped out at 99.7 MPH. Robert Stephenson averaged 96.5 MPH over his three innings of work. That’s up over 2 MPH from what he averaged in the 2016 season (94.2). He also topped out at 98.6 MPH in the game. That didn’t quite match his high of 99.2 MPH that he had in 2017. Still, it was good to see some of that velocity that Stephenson hasn’t shown too often over the last few years. That it also came with 70% strikes is even more impressive. Manager Bryan Price was impressed by his outing. With the relievers, let’s start with Zack Weiss. He’s now up to 4.1 shutout innings on the spring with two walks and five strikeouts. He didn’t see much action, throwing just 10 pitches in his appearance. But, he topped out at 94.5 MPH and averaged 93.6 MPH on his fastball. Kyle Crockett, a lefty in competition for a LOOGY role, now has a 2.08 ERA in 4.1 innings this spring with a walk and 3 strikeouts. He averaged 90.1 MPH on his fastball and topped out at 91.2. That falls in line with where he has been in the Major Leagues between 2014-2017. For Jared Hughes he averaged 93.6 MPH on his fastball. That’s about where he’s been at for his career in the Majors. Joey Votto is the hero we deserve It’s been a rough couple of years for Cincinnati Reds fans, but while the wins haven’t been there, Joey Votto has been. We are likely looking at the best hitter to ever wear a Reds uniform. The odds are that we won’t see anyone better than he is in our lifetime (though, let’s hope we do – but that’s a pretty big ask). Last season Joey Votto swung at more strikes than he has in the past. He did so while also leading the universe in not swinging at non-strikes. Eno Sarris of The Athletic interviewed Joey Votto and published the interview earlier today, along with some outstanding information on just how incredible Votto is. The Reds first baseman is a student of the game. The interview itself is awesome, and you need to go read it (subscription is required). But, perhaps the most interesting part was something that Votto sort of mentioned about fastballs all starting to look the same and having less movement, and then the data compiled by Andrew Perpetua that shows just how true that is. 10 Responses AirborneJayJay March 9, 2018 Stephenson needed a big day and he delivered. If he is getting some of his velocity back that would be incredible to go with improved location on his fastball. That would put him squarely behind Castillo. I’d like to see him get in a good groove for a lengthy stretch this year. The team needs a good Robert Stephenson and Stephenson needs a good Stephenson to show up and deliver. We need the August/Sept Stephenson of last year for a whole season this year. It would be a huge development. They aren’t ready just yet. But a rotation of Castillo>Stephenson>Garrett>Romano>Mahle is on the horizon. Keith March 9, 2018 Agreed — I’m to the point of rooting for Stephenson just for his own sake. I feel like he’s been beaten around so much and given up on by so many that it’d be great to see him succeed. I know he’s not perfect and maybe hasn’t always done everything right to be successful, but I hope this is the year he puts it together just to show that he’s been worth the wait. The Duke March 9, 2018 Still weird for me seeing Stephenson’s curveball as his 4th pitch. It was such a weapon for him when he was in Dayton, and he threw it for strikes consistently, both swinging and looking. sultanofswaff March 9, 2018 It really angered me watching Price/Barnhart calling for fastball after fastball from Stephenson early on last year. The pitch wasn’t quality, and instead of adjusting in-game like you would do with a veteran to get the out, they slavishly called for it in action counts only to see it get crushed. Stephenson had a ton more success pitching backwards. Yes, his fastball command is spotty and should be worked on, but that’s no more a crime than a young starter who doesn’t have a reliable 3rd pitch, yet it’s a cardinal sin to Price. It took until the end of the year to change the sequencing and then his K/BB numbers normalized. For all this talk of Price being a pitching guru, he has these bouts of trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Lollipopcurve March 9, 2018 Couldn’t agree more, sultan. Very well stated. MK March 9, 2018 Doug, don’t know if you have heard anything about this but I have heard Okey has a broken wrist. I am hoping the person who told me has it wrong and it is still just his hamate issue. Doug Gray March 9, 2018 I haven’t heard much out of camp yet as far as things go on the minor league side of things. Disappointing to hear if true, though. Shamrock March 10, 2018 “We are likely looking at the best hitter to ever wear a Reds uniform.” Now, we all (except marty) like joey……..but holy smokes Doug………haven’t you ever heard of “The Hit King” Pete Rose??????? CP March 10, 2018 Rose was great, and to be honest before my time. But I’m not sure Rose was as complete a hitter as Votto is. Votto, so far, gets on base better & hits for more power. Now was is still to be seen is the longevity of his abilities. Rose, very obviously, played at a high level for a long time. In addition was able to extend his career by being a player manager. Something that is unheard of in today’s game. Pete Rose Career Summary (got this from baseball reference.com) WAR 79.1, AB 14053, R 2165, H 4256, BA .303, HR 160, RBI 1314, SB 198, OBP .375, SLG .409, OPS .784, OPS+ 118 Votto Career Summary (also from baseball reference.com) WAR 54.8, AB 5060, R 863, H 1586, BA .313, HR 257, RBI 830, SB 72, OBP .428, SLG .541, OPS .969, OPS+ 158 It will be fun to see how Votto ages. His HOF status hangs in the balance to say the least. He truly has a chance to have his name mentioned among some greats of the game. But there is a lot to still be accomplished between now and then. I just look forward to seeing it all play out on what is hopefully a new strong window of competition for the Reds! Doug Gray March 10, 2018 Pete Rose isn’t close to the hitter Joey Votto is. Batting average does not = everything about hitting. Joey Votto is a significantly better hitter than Pete Rose EVER was. It’s not particularly close.