The Texas Rangers just made a trade, and to clear room on their 40-man roster, the team designated former top prospect Tyrell Jenkins for assignment. The right hander is a former Top 100 prospect from his days with the St. Louis Cardinals (after the 2011 and 2012 seasons).
He was originally drafted in the supplemental 1st round of the 2010 draft and made his big league debut in 2016. The 23-year-old struggled at the Major League level, posting a 5.88 ERA in 52.0 innings with more walks, 33, than strikeouts, 26. He spent time relieving (six appearances) and starting (eight appearances) for the Braves. In Triple-A Gwinett he performed much better, at least from an ERA standpoint, where he had a 2.47 ERA in 12 starts and five relief appearances. He did, however, struggle to miss bats and his walk rate wasn’t strong.
Tyrell Jenkins has struggled with his control, for the most part, since he left rookie ball back in 2012. In 2014, in the Florida State League as a 21-year-old, he walked 23 batters in 74.0 innings. That was the only time his walks-per-9-innings was lower than 3.97 in full-season baseball. He’s also struggled to miss bats since leaving the Midwest League with a well below-average strikeout rate.
So, why should the Cincinnati Reds take a look at claiming him off of waivers? He’s got a good arm, with a fastball that reaches into the mid 90’s to go along with a change up and curveball. He had shoulder surgery in 2013, and threw harder before then, so there’s a chance he could find something more down the line. He’s also been used primarily as a starting pitcher in his professional career. Perhaps a move to the bullpen would let his stuff play up a tick and let him show a bit better control along the way. There’s also the chance that he could fit into the model of multi-inning reliever that the organization seems to want to take a look at. His change up played out as a slightly above-average big league pitch in 2016, but his fastball and curveball were both hit quite well.
Tyrell Jenkins has an option remaining, so the team would have the opportunity to send him to the minor leagues if he didn’t make the team out of spring training. Perhaps he could be the 2017 version of Keyvius Sampson – a good arm that has had some struggles in the past, but is worth taking a flyer on to see what happens.