One of the early talks of the spring was how impressive Michael Lorenzen was to Bryan Price. Lorenzen was a two way player in college, coming out of center field (literally) to close games out on the mound. Some teams preferred him as an outfielder coming into the 2013 draft, but the Reds saw him as a pitcher and selected him as such. Despite early mentions that he could do both, the Reds have him on the mound and keeping him there seems to be the plan as they have moved him to the rotation.
The move to the rotation is a big one for Lorenzen, who pitched in a very limited relief role in college. How the team monitors and controls the number of innings on his arm will be interesting to see. Most reliever to starter conversions happen with guys who have at least some kind of history starting, but Lorenzen doesn’t really have that, making him a very unique case. In 2013 the right hander threw 61 innings between Cal State Fullerton, the minor league season and the Arizona Fall League. Teams usually don’t jump players much more than 30 innings from one year to the next, which would limit Lorenzen to somewhere in the 90-100 inning range, which if he is used as a starter is going to mean 3-4 inning starts all season long or some skipped starts along the way unless he is used like Aroldis Chapman in 2010 and starts for the first half and relieves in the second half.
Fastball | As a reliever and a starter in the Arizona Fall League on a limited pitch count, Lorenzen was able to throw 93-96 MPH and touch the upper 90’s. The pitch has some rising action to it and will occasionally show good movement on the horizontal plane, running in on right handers. The pitch is a plus one.
Slider | Coming in at 80-84 MPH, Lorenzen brings his slider as a true out pitch when it is at its best. The pitch can get a bit slurvy at times, but it makes for a second potential plus offering.
Change up | Clearly his third pitch in the arsenal, it is a below-average offering that lacks consistency. The pitch didn’t have much movement at times to separate it from the fastball, but on occasion it would have tumbling action to it though it remained a bit straight on the horizontal plane.
Other | Control could be an issue with Lorenzen. He loses his release point as he tends to overthrow his pitches at times. His change up must improve and become more consistent if he is going to remain a starting pitcher.
Overall Thoughts | Everything rolled into one, it seems like a long shot that Lorenzen sticks as a starting pitcher given the needed improvements for his innings workload, change up and control. The fallback plan would be to a move to the bullpen where the fastball and slider could play up and where his control problems, if not completely overcome, would at least have a lesser impact. Lorenzen is a high-reward type of player with a big ceiling, and while he isn’t completely high-risk, there is some moderate risk involved with him because of his control problems.