It’s been a while since we’ve had a scouting notebook here at the site, but I figured what better time than now to bring one back. Today we are going to look at several of the hard throwers (Jesus Reyes and Ryan Hendrix) in the organization and a pitcher coming back from injury (Jonathon Crawford).
Despite what you may constantly hear on Cincinnati Reds broadcasts about velocity not mattering in pitching, it absolutely does. It’s not the only way to get things done, but the best pitchers in baseball are almost all guys that bring the heat. While none of the three guys in the organization are the hardest throwers, with multiple guys topping 100 MPH so far this season, these guys are certainly among that next group of pitchers in the velocity category.
RHP Ryan Hendrix
The Reds selected Ryan Hendrix in the 5th round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft and in the 29.1 innings he’s pitched, he’s been quite dominant. Most of his time has come with the Dayton Dragons where he’s posted a 0.87 ERA in 20.2 innings pitched, allowing just 11 hits and six walks to go along with 20 strikeouts. He struggled with control at Texas A&M, walking 20 batters in 24.1 innings, but he’s been quite a bit better in that aspect since joining the Cincinnati organization.
As noted above, his control wavered at times in college but has improved as a professional. He will still go through short spurts where he will struggle here, particularly with his offspeed stuff. Hendrix has been working with his 2-seam fastball that works in the 93-94 MPH range, but will often mix in his 4-seamer that works in the 94-97 MPH range. He will occasionally touch higher than that as well. His go-to secondary offering is a strong curveball in the low 80’s that’s an above-average offering. He also throws a change up, but it’s a clear third pitch at this point and needs improvement if he’s going to use it at the highest levels. Out of the bullpen though, his fastball/breaking ball combo should play quite well.
RHP Jesus Reyes
When the Reds initially signed Jesus Reyes in August of 2014 it marked something rather interesting. The scouting reports noted that he had a mid 90’s fastball, but he came out of an incredibly small school in New York where he went undrafted. When you see kids get drafted out of college who are only drafted because they are the son of someone it’s a shocker how someone who can throw in the mid 90’s goes undrafted, but the Reds seemed to find something with Reyes.
He had some success with the Arizona League Reds in 2015, posting a 3.40 ERA with 22 walks and 43 strikeouts in 50.1 innings. This season he’s been even better for the Dayton Dragons where he’s posted a 2.43 ERA in 69.1 innings with 29 walks and 51 strikeouts. For the season his walk and strikeout rates aren’t great, but they’ve really picked up since July began. In that span he’s got 11 walks and 26 strikeouts in 28.2 innings (compared to 18 walks and 25 strikeouts in 40.2 innings in May and June).
In his last start he looked outstanding with the exception of a few pitches, two of which went over the fence. Still, he threw 81 pitches in the game and had 15 swinging strikes. A lot of that came on the back of his fastball. Like Hendrix, Reyes works with both a 2 and 4-seam fastball. The 2-seamer works in the 92-94 MPH range and has excellent movement that generates a high rate of ground balls (currently at 65% this season). His 4-seam fastball works in the 95-98 MPH range. He brings a slider as his go-to secondary offering that is an above-average pitch.
He’s already 23-years-old and hasn’t gotten beyond Low-A. He’s more likely to be a reliever in the long run than a starter, but with his arm strength and the ability to start right now he may stay in the rotation for another year to see how things can work out with the outside hope that maybe everything clicks in that role.
RHP Jonathon Crawford
It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen Jonathon Crawford on the mound outside of Arizona. After having shoulder problems in spring training of 2015 he would rehab the injury, but after returning to the mound in July he re-injured it and had to have surgery to repair a torn labrum. Those are words that you never want to hear with a pitcher.
The first time that I saw Jonathon Crawford pitch was in Dayton, as a visiting player for the West Michigan White Caps. His stuff was unreal. He was throwing a fastball in the 91-95 MPH range, touching a tad higher, and the pitch had incredibly movement on it. His slider was flashing plus as well. His change up wasn’t good, and he looked more like an elite reliever than starter, but the arm talent was undeniable.
Crawford returned to the mound in Daytona 364 days after he had his shoulder operated on. So far the results have been mixed. The right hander has a 3.38 ERA through three starts and 13.1 innings. He’s walked four batters and he’s struck out seven. Small sample size alert on any numbers at this point, and really, the numbers aren’t important at all this season. What is important is both the age for Crawford and his stuff. He will turn 25-years-old in November and he’s got a grand total of 18.2 innings pitched above Low-A. Time isn’t working in his favor. Right now, stuff isn’t working in his favor either. After his last start with the Tortugas I was able to talk to two different people who were in attendance. The first guy that I spoke with had him working in the upper 80’s with his fastball and occasionally touching the low 90’s. The other report didn’t even mention anything about 90’s, saying that he was working 86-89 MPH on the day.
It’s obviously still early on the road back, but shoulder injuries are the worst and many players never recover from them. Right now the velocity from Jonathon Crawford is a far, far cry from where it used to be. Next season will be a far better time to start paying close attention to things, but right now, there should probably be some concern with where he’s at.