When Austin Brice began the 2016 season he was assigned to Double-A Jacksonville in the Marlins organization. The season began well for Brice, who was starting for the Suns. In his first three starts of the year he didn’t allow an earned run. He threw 6.0, 5.0 and 5.0 innings with 15 strikeouts and four walks. It wasn’t until April 25th that he allowed an earned run. Against Montgomery he gave up three runs in 6.0 innings with four strikeouts. The final start of April saw him allow a run in 6.0 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. For the month the righty had a 1.29 ERA in 28.0 innings. That came with just six walks and 23 strikeouts.
May began with an interesting start against Jackson on the 6th. Austin Brice allowed a run with just one hit in 5.0 innings. That did come along with four walks in the game, though. It was the next time out that was a real struggle. Biloxi scored five earned in 5.0 innings with another unearned run mixed in. The right hander rebounded well to finish the month. In the next three starts he allowed just four earned in 17.2 innings with 13 strikeouts. In 27.2 innings for May he posted a 3.25 ERA with 11 walks and 21 strikeouts.
That good stretch continued into June for Austin Brice. He was charged with an unearned run in 6.2 innings with seven strikeouts on the 2nd. Things went south from there, however. In the next two starts he allowed 10 earned in 9.2 innings with five walks and eight strikeouts. That led to a shift to the bullpen for the right handed pitcher. That conversion went about as well as one could imagine. In the final three weeks of the month he only made five appearances as he transitioned to the new role, but allowed just two hits and a walk in 6.1 innings with no runs and eight strikeouts. Over 22.2 innings he posted a 3.97 ERA with eight walks and 23 strikeouts.
July saw the transition to the bullpen continue to go well. Austin Brice threw 4.1 shutout innings to begin the month before having some struggles on the 11th. Against Birmingham he allowed three runs over 3.0 innings. The next two weeks went well as he allowed just two hits in 3.2 innings with three strikeouts. The final week of July didn’t go quite as smooth. The righty allowed three runs and eight hits in 4.0 innings. In his first full month as a reliever he posted a 3.60 ERA in 15.0 innings with four walks and 12 strikeouts.
Austin Brice was promoted to Triple-A to begin August. After one appearance he was promoted to Miami. In his debut he threw a perfect inning with two strikeouts on the 12th. Four days later he was sent back to Triple-A. Brice didn’t pitch again until the 18th, but made four appearances over the next eight days. With New Orleans he allowed just one hit in 6.2 shutout innings with six strikeouts. The Marlins recalled him on the 29th.
From August 30th through September 24th Austin Brice pitched quite well for the Marlins. In 11.2 innings he had just two walks and 12 strikeouts to go along with five hits. His ERA was still 3.86 as almost every runner he allowed scored (only one didn’t – despite just one solo home run being allowed). It was the final three appearances that held back what had been a very good run to begin his career. In 1.1 innings over those three games he allowed six runs and three walks with just one strikeout.
For Austin Brice it was a big year in several ways. He made the transition into a new role as a reliever mid-season. That led to him making his big league debut in August and spending over a month there. He performed better as a reliever than as a starter, though he had success in both roles.
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Austin Brice Scouting Report
Fastball | As a reliever in the big leagues we’ve got cold, hard data that tells us that Austin Brice averaged 95 MPH and topped out at 98. He throws both a two and four-seam fastball, though the two-seamer gets more usage. Both pitches show some armside running action and outstanding sinking action on his two-seamer.
Slider | It’s a power pitch that works in the upper 80’s. It’s got a little bit of cutting action to it as well. It flashes itself as an above-average offering.
Curveball | It’s a power curveball that works in the 79-82 MPH range. It’s a solid-average pitch.
When the Reds acquired Austin Brice and I began reading other scouting report on him, I felt that he was going to wind up being a non-top 25 prospect for my list. Then I began to take a deeper look at things and watch some video and that all changed. Brice can throw a mid 90’s sinking fastball with outstanding late sink. It’s almost like a change up in how it fades under a bat – except that it’s coming in at 96 MPH. He’s got two breaking balls to work with, which should help him handle right handed hitters well – though his lack of a change up could leave him with some struggles against lefties in the long run. There’s plenty of stuff and I love the fastball movement combined with the velocity. I believe it will play well. When you combine that with his ability to throw strikes, he’s looks like a guy who profiles quite well in the bullpen, even if he’s not likely to be a premiere 8th or 9th inning guy. He’s ready to pitch in the big leagues right now and have success in far more than a mop up kind of role.