Last night was a big night on the Cincinnati Reds farm for starting pitching as the team had all four games being started by Top 20 prospects. Robert Stephenson, Sal Romano and Keury Mella all performed well in their starts. Jose Lopez had some struggles for Dayton. Let’s jump into things a little bit for each guy.
Robert Stephenson tossed 6.0 innings, allowing one earned run with a walk and seven strikeouts. That’s a strong start no matter how you slice it, and if the game had been a little later in the year, he could have gone further. This early in the season though, they weren’t going to push things on a pitch count. The right hander had all three of his pitches working in the game. Several times in the first three innings of the game he threw curveballs where the Toledo hitters would turn their front shoulder in thinking that they were about to be hit by the pitch, only to watch the pitch break into the zone for a called strikes. At times he reached into the mid 90’s with his fastball and was using his splitter to get swings-and misses throughout the night. All told, in his 6.0 innings of work he managed to get 17 swings-and-misses. Without context, that doesn’t say much. But in your average start, anything in the double digits is fairly good. To get 17 is very strong.
Sal Romano was just as good, if not better in his start for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos on the night. The big right hander tossed 5.0 innings, allowing one run on three hits, no walks and he had seven strikeouts. He was pulled for a pinch runner in the bottom of the 5th inning as a precaution after he made a diving play in the previous half-inning.
Romano, who had as many strikeouts as Stephenson on the night, had seven swings-and-misses in his start, getting more called strikes in his game. He worked more with his fastball/breaking ball, mixing in a few change ups along the way. He reached into the upper 90’s a few times, but sat mostly in the 93-94 MPH range on the night with the pitch.
Keury Mella took the hill for the Daytona squad and after a rough start he really settled in and allowed just one run over 5.2 innings. It was unfortunate that the 1st inning run he allowed would be the only run of the entire game as the Tortugas would take the loss. He worked mostly in the low 90’s with his fastball, but touched 94-95 a few times throughout the game and mixed in his breaking ball often.
Jose Lopez, as noted, had some struggles in his start for Dayton. The righty allowed six runs in 3.1 innings with a walk and 4 strikeouts. He showed a good breaking ball on the night, but he allowed three doubles and a home run in his time on the mound. Control in the strikezone was the problem on Thursday night as he left too many pitches in the upper third of the strikezone and West Michigan wasn’t missing them as they sprayed the gaps for extra-bases.