The Cincinnati Reds announced that they have hired Kyle Boddy to be their Director of Pitching Initiatives / Pitching Coordinator. That wasn’t the only move that they made, but since this is RedsMinorLeagues.com it’s the one we’re going to focus on the most here today.

If the name sounds familiar but you can’t quite place it, Kyle Boddy is the founder of Driveline Baseball. That’s the pitching (and now hitting) training center for all kinds of professionals. They were near the forefront of utilizing advanced data, pitch tracking, slow-motion camera’s, weighted baseball training, etc.

The Reds have sent more than a few players out to Driveline to work on things over the years. Trevor Bauer has been going there and working specifically with Boddy for years. Caleb Cotham, the big league clubs assistant pitching coach is also a Driveline convert. Pitching coach Derek Johnson isn’t a Driveline guy, but much of what he does and has done follows along the same lines.

Subsequent tweets noted that he’s signed to a multi-year deal and he is no longer allowed to work with other teams – but Driveline Baseball can and will. The title of Director of Pitching Initiatives / Pitching Coordinator sounds fancy. And it probably is quite fancy, too. The first part of that title is a role that’s never existed in the organization. The pitching coordinator, though, that role has existed in the past.

Tony Fossas was the Reds minor league pitching coordinator this past season. Boddy will be replacing him in this expanded role. Fossas is remaining with the organization. The former 10-year Major League pitcher has been with the Reds for 11 seasons working as either a pitching coach or the pitching coordinator.

There’s a lot of rather interesting things going on here. First, much like last offseason when the Reds somehow made magic happen in getting Derek Johnson not only pried away from a rival, but landing him while other teams were trying to make it happen, Cincinnati brought in Kyle Boddy over several other teams. One of those teams includes the Chicago Cubs who offered him a position – likely the Director of Pitching position that they have created this offseason, but have not yet filled.

Now, the one thing that really stood out to me was the line from the above tweet: The direction the Reds are going blew me away.

Think about that for a second. Whether you want to buy into it or not, teams all around baseball are. What’s happening at Driveline is where baseball is going. Teams from all around baseball are going to them to help pitchers. Teams from college all around the country and going to them to help develop their programs. And yet he’s blown away by the direction the Reds are going.

But Doug, of course he’d say that about his new employer! And hey, you might be right. But let’s look at the evidence. Kyle Boddy, if you’ve ever followed him anywhere, doesn’t blow smoke. He tells it like he feels. That of course pales in comparison to the fact that he accepted the job.

All of this seemed to start back in June. Technically it started long before that, but it was on June 23rd of this past summer in which Boddy announced that he would be willing to take on certain jobs with a Major League team in an exclusive role. Two days after that JJ Cooper of Baseball America wrote that Boddy had already been contacted by seven organizations. In 2014 he turned down a role with the Houston Astros.

Eventually the results are going to be there and we can look back and judge, at least sort of, how this worked out. But right now, this feels like another absolute steal for the Cincinnati Reds front office. The track record, or lack of one, for the organization to develop pitching is long and it’s depressing. Overhauls usually take time, and expecting immediate results is probably a bad idea. But trying something different, something new, it gives hope that this time things could be different. We’ve seen what a new approach has done at the big league level with Derek Johnson and Caleb Cotham handling things. Now there’s a chance that they can work with Boddy to filter all of it to the Minor Leagues, too.

41 Responses

  1. Pokey Reese's Red Hot Bat

    I’m surprised there hasn’t been more comment about this. This seems to be quite a significant recruit.

    For all he says about being blown away, I do wonder how much this came down to the Reds just being willing to be more flexible than their rivals. I’d imagine quite a few organizations would have concerns about him continuing to have a role at Driveline. The Reds perhaps having less proprietary information that they were concerned about losing may have enabled them to be more relaxed about it?

  2. Tom

    There is no such thing as luck. I see this hiring as recognition of that fact.

  3. Seat101

    This is big news. I wonder if this would’ve violated the “Steinbrenner rule“ concerning big announcements during the playoffs and World Series. I believe a lot of people don’t realize how big this is.

    It’s unlikely that any major league baseball team is going to know before the Reds do what the latest research tells us. And it’s very unlikely that any other major league baseball team will have applied that knowledge before the Reds do.

    Can we stop with the driveline/Caleb Cotham jokes? He went to driveline after his career ended

  4. MK

    Since many organizations are now consulting and using Driveline how he can skurt the line of being its’ Director and not work with other organizations.

    Remember a day when baseball employees could have no connection with gamblers or gambling? Leo Durocher, Willie Ways and Mickey Mantle were all suspended for nothing but their associates with gamblers or casinos. Boddy was a professional associate of PokerStars.

    Seems like standards in tis regard are changing.

  5. Greg

    I can’t find the tweet and I suspect it was scrubbed from his account. But he was critical of the Reds organization regarding the handling of Hunter Greene. It was a macro criticism of the organization. I suspect that Boddy likes a challenge, and he gets to remake one of the worst organizations in pitching development.

  6. Oldtimer

    Hope he can get Trevor Bauer back to his 2018 results. The rest of his MLB career has been closer to his 2019 results.

    Castillo is Reds ace now. It wouldn’t hurt to have two aces (Bauer).

      • Oldtimer

        Castillo is 2019 was Reds ace. Gray #2 (with better ERA) but Castillo #1 this year.

    • Oldtimer

      You borrowed that line from A Few Good Men. (“I strenuously disagree, Your Honor” or something like that).

      Castillo had more W, more IP, and more K than Gray. Castillo listed #1 among Reds SP on Baseball Reference for example.

      • wutinthehail

        Castillo is behind Gray in WAR on both Fangraphs and BR. Castillo was the clear #2…but that’s a good thing really!

        I didn’t realize wins is even tracked anymore. It’s a toss up between a win and a save as to the most useless pitching stat

      • MuddyCleats

        Curious who had more swing & miss strikes? IMO, Here’s where MoneyBall and cyber-metrics come into play. IMO, Reds draft too many Mongo SP candidates – me big — me throw hard. Question is R you good at getting people out? Size & Arm Strength have their place, but if you struggle throwing strikes and when you do – U give up hard contact & can’t get hitters out….who cares how big U R or how hard you throw?? Metrics are good comparison tools, but they have to pass the eyeball test too…..can they get hitters out or have below avg contact rates? Keuchel is a classic example. Doesn’t throw hard and probably has low spin rates, but guy sure finds a way 2 throw Quality Start after QS. An intangible that goes un-noticed and is difficult to measure IMO, is/R Pitchers who R good @ reading hitters swings. Dugout and Catcher have a perspective, but so does the pitcher. Reading a hitter’s swing and then selecting the right pitch, speed and location R key to keeping hitters off balance. I think too often Pitchers ceed this responsibility……especially the younger guys?

  7. MK

    Thinking about this a little more I wonder how the new pitching philosophies will alline with the medical sides philosophy of limiting pitches when Driveline seems to believe in throwing more (which is a philosophy I feel is long overdue).

  8. Jim Delaney

    Castillo had a very good year but wasnt consistent or consistently dominant enough to be considered a definitive Ace. Could be yes, fully there yet, NO? Sonny Gray on other hand was very. Consistent and is definitely back to being a high end number 2 type starter. One of the big concerns for me next season is how quick a hook will ownership have with Bell.. if Reds get off to another slow start will they pull the plug.. I dont disagree with firing the hitting coach but the Manager was terrible in one run games, was thrown out of way too many games and didn’t seem to have any motivational techniques that created results.. hopefully trying to win and have players ready to play 9 innings at start of season will be emphasized in Spring training. Reds were flat and had no energy at beginning of season…

    • Oldtimer

      Given that Reds allowed Bryan Price to be manager into his 5th season despite .419 W-L (%) results, I think Bell is safe for a couple years at least. Reds SP was very good. Reds bullpen was not. Reds lineup was really good (Suarez, Iglesias) or mediocre (Votto). Injuries hurt Reds offense a lot. Winker, Senzel, Gennett, etc.

      • Oldtimer

        Puig played about 100 games for Reds. No surprise he would be second in HR and RBI.

    • Wes

      Puig was second in homers and rbi for reds. They were terrible and completely underperformed the whole season at every spot but Suarez with the bat in hand !

      The bullpen has been highly criticized but outside of Iglesias, who still throws a 100 miles an hour, all the pieces we expect to see there next season faired well; Bobsteve, lorenzen, Garrett, gausman, Kuhnel (one bad outing) all look like effective pieces next year ! Garrett/lorenzen/Iglesias seem pretty stout imo for back of pen but adding a piece is still worth considering.

      Biggest mistake reds made is not firing Bell! He’s an idiot and an embarrassment as well as a terrible manager. Last year no giardi and this year no madden bc reds ownership can’t own their direction and admit they need help winning games ! So we r stuck having a guy who thinks trying to sucker punch a 62 year old man in the back of the head on national tv is a good choice to lead this team. Smh

      • Doug Gray

        Tell us how you really feel, Wes. This time don’t hold back.

      • MK

        Maddon had the most talent in the Central and all the money also and won one Championship. He wears out his welcome quickly with all his quirky decisions. Keep him away.

        You folks have all wanted analytics as the approach to team and game management. Practically all the strategies implemented by Bell can be backed up by the analytics of this group of players, the ones that worked and those that didn’t. Well you’ve got what you wanted and now don’t like what it looks like. Bell gets at least a two year pass to get the team and players he needs to implement this approach.

      • Oldtimer

        The bullpen THIS year was not too good. Next year, maybe better.

        Bullpen THIS year had Iglesias, Lorenzen, Garrett, Stephenson AND Hernandez, Duke, Peralta, and Hughes (among other). Overall not a good bullpen performance in 2019.

      • Cguy

        Reds relief pitching ERA was 4.28 in 2019. NL team average rp ERA was 4.46. ML rp ERA was 4.43. Reds above average in both categories. Reds relief pitchers allowed 264 ER in 2019, only 6 teams in the ML allowed fewer rp ER. Reds rp allowed 280 runs in 2019, only 6 teams in the ML allowed fewer runs by their respective relief corps.

      • Wes

        That’s all I got. Been chomping at the bit for a few days though since managers have been getting canned.

      • Oldtimer

        Three Reds bullpen pitchers had decent or good years. At least five did not. Bullpen got tagged with a lot of L and blown saves in 2019.

      • Cguy

        Reds with 2nd best save percentage in NL in 2019. Reds saved 46 out of 69 opportunities, a 66.67%. Only St Louis better, saving 52 out of 73 opportunities, a 71.23%.

  9. Drews4runner

    Great signing in my mind. He will have a lot more sign an one on one time with our pitchers that can’t afford to go driveline. Deals like this make me think one day we will lose our reds minor league guru! Which hopefully you work out your contract to do both as well :)

  10. Brad

    Bottom was right about “punching in a different weight class.”

  11. SteveLV

    I have generally been impressed by the moves the front office has made over the last 12 months or so. Some have worked, others didn’t, but they generally seemed to make sense, seemed smart. The Ward and Boddy moves are both encouraging – recognizing both what could work and what isn’t working and acting decisively.

    The Dodgers trade gets criticized, but I liked it at the time, thought it made sense – just didn’t work out. The one that I don’t get is the Bauer trade and I hope it isn’t the cause of them emptying the farm system in order to try to compete in 2020.

    Developing talent through the system is the only realistic foundation for the Reds to build a consistently competitive team. Reaching a deal with Boddy is a strong signal in what I think is the right direction.

    • Reds OH

      Dodger Trade is still going to bite us. Could have had Josiah Gray, Santillan, Gutierrez as a young core surrounded by Castillo, Sonny Gray, Bauer. What could have been. Hopefully Hunter Greene can benefit from Boddy and help us develop pitchers for once.

      • Oldtimer

        Reds traded Puig, Trammell, and Moss for Bauer. Reds got Paid from LAD trade. CLE doesn’t trade Bauer to Reds if Puig not included.

        LAD trade wound up as Homer, three Top 100 MiLB prospects, and one MiLB fringe prospect for Bauer, Wood, and Farmer.

    • Pokey Reese's Red Hot Bat

      Ward and Boddy moves have something else in common.

      They are signing coaches who have a good relationship with a recent big money trade. Ward with Puig and Boddy with Bauer.

      I wonder if this is part of a plan to extend Bauer and that Ward’s departure signifies we’re not now going to pursue Puig in free agency?

  12. MK

    Have a friend who is a minor league pitching coach in California League. He stopped home last week and said it is absolutely miserable to coach the analytic generation. He gave an example of a prospect he had that got knocked out of box early. The next day when he met with the kid he was fuming as he said he should not be in A+ ball he should be in Aa or AAA. The coach told him your record is 5-10. Try winning a few games and you might get permitted. The kid told him the wins don’t matter as I have one of the best spin rates in the organization. He did not get permitted. My buddy said ithese new know-it-all attitudes of the analytic generation are so frustrating he is thinking about quitting.

    • Doug Gray

      Well, the kid was right that wins don’t matter as it pertains to him individually. He can’t control how the offense performs when he’s on the mound.

      But the coach should have also told him spin rate doesn’t matter if it’s not leading to results. You can spin it all you want, but if you can’t throw it in the zone, it doesn’t make an ounce of difference in terms of being promoted or not.

    • Oldtimer

      It would make the games a lot easier. Just compare spin rates of pitchers and award W based on that alone. Saves 3 hours of wasted time and effort.

      Fortunately every sport measures success by winning and failure by losing. Exhibit A is Oakland A’s last night.

      • MuddyCleats

        Good stuff, what I was trying to say above. None of it matters if it doesn’t produce the desired results. Can be useful tools, but Pitcher still has to make the pitches. Hitter (A) has a history of pulling off the ball so every team get’s him out away. Last 2 weeks he’s locked in driving ball oppo – pitcher has 2 make an adjustment – that’s the game w/in the game. Many Reds SP don’t have 3 quality pitches or command of them which makes it more difficult 2 make the needed adjustment

  13. KyWilson1

    Pitching FA’s and current pitchers have to see this as a reason to become/remain a Redleg. This is similar to recruiting at the college level, and I for one love it. The young pitchers in the organization should be ecstatic. Hopefully they can make a similarly smart hire for the Hitting coach.