Sonny Gray made his first start of the spring on Thursday night for the Cincinnati Reds as they took on the Kansas City Royals. But there were also plenty of pitching prospects that showed off some skills on the mound as the game went along.

Vladimir Gutierrez was the first prospect to enter the game. The right-handed starter came out of the bullpen for the 5th inning and picked up a strikeout in a shutout inning.

Following Gutierrez was Ryan Hendrix. Among the relief prospects in the organization, Hendrix may have the best pure stuff of anyone. On Thursday night he got to show it off, too, tossing a perfect inning with a strikeout.

“That was really impressive tonight,” said manager David Bell or Hendrix outing. “He has a great arm. Fastball, upper 90’s and attacking the hitters – really aggressive. Slider’s tough. That was fun to watch. It was impressive to say the least. I know it was just an inning, but he looked good last time, too.”

Hendrix, who turned 26 during the offseason, has a career 2.55 ERA in 172.2 innings pitched in the minor leagues with 234 strikeouts and 76 walks. In 2019 he pitched for Double-A Chattanooga, but missed a significant chunk of the season – missing all of May and June, and most of July before a week long rehab stint with the rookie level Arizona League Reds before returning to Chattanooga in August.

Brandon Finnegan pitched for the second time this spring, this time coming out of the bullpen. He was charged with an unearned run, but picked up two strikeouts in his inning of work that also saw him reach back and hit 95 MPH. A healthy Finnegan that can throw in the mid-90’s is very intriguing.

Tony Santillan, like Finnegan before him, was hurt by the defense and wound up being charged with two unearned runs. But the righty struck out two batters in his inning of work and he hit 97 on the stadium radar gun.

The best outing of the night, though, came last. That’s when Dauri Moreta came out and struck out all three batters he faced in the top of the 9th inning while showing off his fastball, slider, and change up.

Back in 2019 Dauri Moreta was dominant for the Daytona Tortugas – then the High-A affiliate for the Reds. In 35 games he threw 57.1 innings with a 2.35 ERA while walking just nine batters and racking up 64 strikeouts. The 24-year-old could be a quick mover in 2021 once the minor league season begins.

It was a good showing overall for the Reds pitching staff on the night. They walked no one and as a group they picked up 12 strikeouts. While Cincinnati lost 5-3, three of those runs were unearned.

On the latest Redleg Nation Radio podcast Chad and myself discussed what we thought about the pitching, and we were in agreement: The depth is impressive and we aren’t at all worried about how it’s going to play out. While you shouldn’t read into the stats of spring training games much, it was more about the stuff that went along with the stats on Thursday night that can get you dreaming on a strong pitching staff in the near future that involves some of these guys.

15 Responses

  1. Michael P

    Man, Josiah Grey would still look good pitching for the Reds

      • MBS

        lol, Frank Robinson would be a great bat in the middle of the order

  2. SultanofSwaff

    Doug, what would you do with Vlad–start or relieve? Same question for Lyon Richardson.

    • Doug Gray

      My general idea for anyone who could have a chance at starting is to let them start as long as humanly possible. Vladimir is someone that more and more scouts are split on when it comes to whether he’s a starter or a reliever, but I’d still keep him starting for another year. Richardson’s starting for a long time for me – he’s a lot younger, so there’s a lot more time to wait and see.

  3. Colorado Red

    Also, a nice AB by Votto in the 1st (listening on the wlw website, hope it continues).
    Nice to see a run in the 1st, without a HR.

    • Matt O'Neal

      With the name Colorado Red, are you in Colorado listening? If so, I’m shocked the listening area is that wide. They made it seem with the announcement that the listening area wouldn’t extend too far.

  4. Matt O'Neal

    With the AAA season start date pushed back, does that impact Gutierrez’s suspension? Or does that start (continue, I guess) 4/1 when MLB kicks off?

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t know, Matt. Next time I talk with someone in the org I’ll ask if they’ve found out about that or not.

      In the past, his suspension wouldn’t start until the minor league season started. But that isn’t how it worked last year because there was no season to start. With a season *expected* to eventually start this year it’s tough to say how MLB will handle this.

      • Matt O'Neal

        Thanks! Appreciate all the work you put into this. With the status of options, suspensions, DH/playoffs, it seems like clubs are waiting around a lot longer than they should to found out things that will impact how they approach the season, potentially.

  5. DaveCT

    Like what we saw of Garcia, Warren and SanMartin earlier, too.

  6. Rhaye

    Longenhagen talked about Antone in the most recent fangraphs chat. Sounds like he’s bumped him up a few grades — didn’t give an FV, but sounded like he’s grading him somewhere between 45-55. Mentioned he’s the only person to ever dramatically increase his spin rates from the minors to the majors.

    • DaveCT

      Antone is on the verge of being a monster. He just needs live at a bats, is all. Live, soon to be not so much, at bats.

    • Doug Gray

      While I haven’t specifically asked about this, I feel pretty comfortable that there’s no chance he’s going to be a catcher. Where he starts the season – that one I’m less confident in. It’s going to be Daytona or Dayton. I’d venture to guess Daytona.