The Cincinnati Reds acquired right-handed pitcher Ryan Lillie in early October of 2018. While still in the penalty box when it comes to signing international players, the Reds traded some of their pool cap allotment to the Miami Marlins for Lillie.
When the season began for Ryan Lillie, it began in the South Atlantic League with Greensboro. That’s the Low-A level affiliate for the Marlins. In his first start he allowed three runs over 5.0 innings with no walks and six strikeouts. The next time the right-hander took the mound he allowed two runs over 4.0 innings without a walk or a strikeout. He made up for the lack of strikeouts in his final two outings of April, striking out 16 batters with just three walks over 13.0 innings. For the month he made four starts and had a 3.68 ERA in 22.0 innings. He walked just three hitters and he struck out 22.
May began with a start at home against Hagerstown for Ryan Lillie where he allowed three earned runs in 5.1 innings. In his next two starts he dominated Greenville and Augusta. He allowed just one earned run in 13.1 innings with 16 strikeouts in those two starts. The now 22-year-old struggled on the 21st, allowing two earned in just 3.0 innings pitched. He rebounded well in his final two games of the month, tossing 13.0 shutout innings with four strikeouts in each start. His 1.56 ERA in 34.2 innings was his lowest ERA in a month for the year. He walked just five batters and struck out 32 during May.
June began where May left off. Ryan Lillie allowed one run over 7.0 innings against Delmarva with seven strikeouts on the 6th. The next time out he had some struggles, and so did the defense. He was charged with three earned runs, and four more unearned runs in 5.2 innings. The former 5th round pick rebounded the next time out, allowing no earned runs in 6.0 innings with seven strikeouts. In what would be his final start in Low-A Greensboro he allowed four earned on two home runs in 5.0 innings. After the game he was promoted to Advanced-A Jupiter in the Florida State League. In his final start on June 29th he allowed three earned in 3.1 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. June finished with a 3.67 ERA between his two stops, with four walks and 27 strikeouts in 27.0 innings.
July wasn’t a very productive month for Ryan Lillie. He made one start for Jupiter on July 11th – nearly two weeks after his previous start. It was a good one, allowing just one run in 6.1 innings with nine strikeouts and a walk. But he hit the disabled list two days later. He would make a rehab start in the Gulf Coast League on the 25th, throwing 2.2 innings.
After a short stint on the disabled list, Ryan Lillie returned to Jupiter to kick off August. The first game did not go well. He walked four batters in 4.0 innings and allowed three runs. Things got back to normal the next time out as he walked no one and allowed two earned over 6.0 innings against St. Lucie. On the 14th he was charged with three earned runs over 7.0 innings with five strikeouts. In what would be his worst start of the year, the righty allowed six runs over 2.0 innings on the road against the Cardinals on the 25th. He rebounded to close out the season against Clearwater, allowing a run over 6.0 innings. August went down as his worth month, posting a 5.40 ERA in 25.0 innings with eight walks and just 14 strikeouts.
For all 2018 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Ryan Lillie Scouting Report
Position: Right-handed pitcher | B/T: Right/Right
Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 210 lbs | Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 (Miami Marlins)
Born: 5/1/1996 in Murrieta, California
Fastball | The pitch works in the low 90’s and he can throw it for strikes. At UC Riverside he threw harder than he does now.
Slider | The pitch is average, with a chance to be slightly better depending on who you ask. The pitch is still inconsistent at times, though. It works in the low 80’s.
Change Up | Currently a below-average offering that has a chance to be a fringe-average offering in the future.
Ryan Lillie throws a lot of strikes. He’s walked just 30 batters in 153.1 innings since he was drafted. Pounding the strikezone is probably one of his biggest strengths. In his draft year the Marlins had him split his time between the rotation and bullpen. Last season he was exclusively used as a starter.
With that said, most of the people I spoke with think that unless he finds the velocity he showed in college that a move to the bullpen is likely. That move could allow him to “air it out” a little bit more, throw harder, and focus on a fastball/slider combination.
Interesting Stat on Ryan Lillie
In 2018 he showed big splits with runners on and the bases empty. With no one on hitters managed a .186/.234/.286 line against him with 12 walks and 78 strikeouts. When runners were on they hit .335/.391/.55 against him with 12 walks and 32 strikeouts against him.