Cincinnati Reds right handed pitcher Drew Hayes is pitching in the Dominican Republic this offseason and he has been dominating during Winter League play. After his third straight season in Double-A Pensacola where he posted a 4.04 ERA in 71.1 innings he headed south to join Estrellas de Oriente.

He made his first appearance on November 11th and allowed a solo home run in 0.2 innings. He wouldn’t appear in another game for nearly two weeks before throwing a perfect inning with a strikeout on November 24th. Hayes has made four more appearances since then and has thrown 6.2 innings in that span with no runs allowed and just three hits and a walk. He has also struck out 12 batters in that time frame.

Overall his numbers have been incredible. Here is his line through six appearances so far:

W L ERA IP H HR BB K AVG
1 0 0.96 9.1 5 1 1 13 .152

Stuff has never been a problem for Hayes. He has 315 strikeouts in 280 minor league innings over his career since being drafted in 2010. Where he has struggled has been with the walks where he has 153, leading to a 12.7% walk rate.

It’s absolutely a small sample size of just 9.1 innings so far in the Dominican Winter League, but it is also something that is carrying over from the end of 2014 where he had just one walk and 22 strikeouts in August and September, facing 74 batters. He’s faced 34 batters in Winter League play, meaning he has walked just two of the last 108 batters he has faced. That’s a walk rate of 1.9%. Has he figured something out? It would certainly seem so. Between the two samples, while both are small, combined they are large enough and the difference is so drastic that something has to have changed. If Hayes has indeed found better control he very well could have tossed his name into the ring for some big league bullpen time in the 2015 season.

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