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After spending the 2014 season with the Billings Mustangs, the Cincinnati Reds sent Jeremy Kivel to Dayton to pitch out of the Dragons bullpen. The season started out about as rough as imaginable. The right hander allowed three earned runs in 0.1 innings in his first outing with two walks. The next time out he allowed four runs in an inning of work Kivel would make four more appearances in April and he turned things around, tossing 5.0 shutout innings with three walks and six strikeouts.
Through the first two weeks of May, covering four appearances, things kept on rolling along. The righty tossed 5.1 combined shutout innings with 11 strikeouts. He did walk five batters in that stretch though. After eight scoreless appearances the streak came to an end on the 16th when he allowed two runs over 2.0 innings. The next time he took the mound was another struggle as he allowed two more runs in 1.1 innings. The month would end on a high note as he tossed 3.2 shutout innings in his final two appearances. For the month he posted a 2.92 ERA in 12.1 innings with eight walks and 18 strikeouts.
June saw some early struggles with four earned runs on the 8th and two more unearned runs in three appearances. The defense continued to struggle behind Kivel, on the 15th he was charged with another two unearned runs (and an earned run). The final three outings of the month were all one shutout inning with a combined three walks and two strikeouts. The rough outing on the 8th crushed his ERA, 5.63 for the month. He walked more batters on the month, eight, than he struck out, seven.
The first two weeks of July was arguably the best stretch of the season for Kivel. He would throw three different 2.0 inning games, allowing just one total hit, and also added a hitless inning of work. In total he had just one walk and 10 strikeouts. The second half of the month had been going well, but the wheels fell off and took out everything behind them as he finished the month by allowing seven earned runs in 1.1 innings. That final outing ballooned his ERA to 6.75 on the month in 10.2 innings where he walked four batters and had 14 strikeouts.
Much like July, August got out to a strong start in the first half. On the 2nd he would toss a perfect inning with two strikeouts. He returned to the mound on the 6th and threw 4.1 shutout innings with a walk and four strikeouts in what was easily the longest outing of the year. After five days off he took the mound again and tossed a shutout inning on the 12th. The second half of the month saw the defense let him down some, allowing one earned and two more unearned in an inning of work. He also walked a batter in what seemed to begin stretch of big control problems that continued through the end of the season. Over the next four, and final appearances of the year, he allowed five runs in 5.1 innings with eight total walks and just two combined strikeouts.In the final five weeks of the season he would post a 4.26 ERA with 11 walks and eight strikeouts in 12.2 innings.
Jeremy Kivel Scouting Report
Fastball | The velocity that Kivel can reach back for at times is near the top of the charts, touching 99 MPH. For most of the 2015 season though his velocity was more in the 91-93 MPH range. In July he began to pick up velocity though and was sitting 94-97 MPH on some nights.
Slider | His slider can be inconsistent. When it’s at its best it’s an above-average offering with good late biting action. At times though it gets a bit flat and at other times it lacks biting action and is more loopy.
While Jeremy Kivel battled consistency with his pitches it was his struggles throwing strikes that was the biggest issue. He had 12 appearances with multiple walks and 25 appearances with at least one walk. In total he had 38 walks in 50.0 innings, a rate that is entirely too high.
Kivel showed pretty big splits. Right handers hit just .225 with a .308 slugging percentage against him to go along with 23 walks and 40 strikeouts. Left handers had their way against him though, hitting .316 and slugging .513 with as many walks as strikeouts, 15.
There’s a ton of upside with the right arm of Jeremy Kivel, but there’s also a ton of risk associated with it too. His control problems are enough that he may struggle to get out of A-ball if there isn’t real improvement moving forward.