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.