The Cincinnati Reds are taking advantage of some of their minor league pitching depth today as they have traded Noah Davis and Case Williams to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for reliever Mychal Givens.

The trend line for Noah Davis and Case Williams seemed to be going a bit in opposite directions this season. Davis has put together a good season with the High-A Dayton Dragons this year, while Williams has had plenty of struggles in Low-A Daytona with the Tortugas.

Let’s start with Noah Davis, who was rated as the 16th best prospect in the organization on Monday. He missed his draft season recovering from Tommy John surgery before returning in 2019 and pitching with the Billings Mustangs. He, like everyone, then missed out on the 2020 season. This year he’s been in Dayton where he’s posted a 3.60 ERA in 65.0 innings, struck out 77 batters, and he’s allowed just 44 hits. Those are the good numbers. But there are two numbers that aren’t so good: He’s walked 35 batters and he’s hit 12 more. That’s 47 free trips to first base in 65.0 innings this season. The control hasn’t been good.

That said, there’s plenty to like with Davis. When he’s been in the zone he’s had plenty of success. Hitters managed a .193 average and a .276 slugging percentage against him this season while in High-A. He’s got two above-average offerings with his fastball and his slider, and he’s also got a change up and a curveball to give hitters multiple other looks. The control will need to improve if he’s going to be a starter at the big league level, and one of his other pitches will probably need to make an improvement – but it’s all there for him to be a future starting pitcher with some small improvements. If not, the bullpen could be a place where he could find success by shortening his arsenal.

Case Williams was not rated in the top 25 prospects list within the organization and has had his struggles this year. Drafted in the 4th round last summer by the Rockies, Williams didn’t get to pitch due to the season being cancelled. In the offseason he came over in a trade and when the season began he joined the Daytona Tortugas. The youngest pitcher on the roster, he struggled to find consistency. In his 47.0 innings he posted a 5.55 ERA while allowing 45 hits, walking 33, hitting six batters, and striking out 34.

Control was one of the biggest problems he had. In his 12 outings he only walked less than two batters one time. That came earlier this month on July 17th when he fired out 5.0 shutout innings with a walk and five strikeouts against Bradenton. The control had improved as the season went along, though. Over the last month he had walked nine batters in 22.2 innings. While we only have the road Hawkeye data for Williams, he was averaging just 89.7 MPH with his fastball in those six games. The system had him topping out at 93.6 MPH. That’s a drop in velocity from where he reportedly was coming out of the draft when he was sitting 89-93 (rather than averaging, roughly, 90 MPH).

It is worth noting that the walk rate on the whole for the Low-A Southeast where Williams was pitching has a very high walk rate. All of the ballparks except in Daytona are using the automated strikezone this year. Just last week the zone was adjusted after feedback from the players was analyzed against the data. It’s still a work-in-progress. With that said, Williams walk rate was still significantly higher than the league average, but we should be aware of the league context this year, too because the numbers on the surface may not be quite what they appear to be.

Overall Thoughts

The Reds are currently deep with pitching prospects. Noah Davis is the teams 7th best pitching prospect. Case Williams wasn’t among the top 25 list, so where exactly he falls in the hierarchy of prospects doesn’t matter too much beyond that point. Cincinnati had depth to trade from and they used it today to try and improve their bullpen that has been an unmitigated disaster for most of the season. It will probably take some time to sort out just how this deal plays out. The first thing that matters is how Givens and the Reds perform the rest of the year. Making the playoffs because of a strong run with the help of Givens and the bullpen would go a long way to making whatever happens down the road of little consequence.

It’s always possible that prospects turn into something unforeseen. Jacob deGrom was never rated higher than the #10 prospect in the Mets organization and he’s been arguably the best pitcher alive for four years now. Weird things like that do happen. But the two guys moved in the deal for the Reds are currently viewed a bit down the depth chart among the pitchers in the organization. There’s potential with both, but that’s where the depth comes into play – Cincinnati probably isn’t counting on them to play a big role in the future and thus they were more willing to move them for a shorter term goal.

18 Responses

  1. amdg

    Seems like this is the kind of trade that should have been made before the season, or even a month ago, when they were in the playoff race.

    But at this point in the season, is it really important to trade away future assets just to chase a 0.500 record?

  2. Brad

    I believe Davis needs to be protected on 40-man this off-season. I see this as a situation where the Reds may not have a spot for him and the Rockies do.

    Both Reds/Rockies trades have been remarkably fair.

    Interesting to me that Reds traded Iglesias and his $9.125M salary, throw in some cash (lets say $1.5M) then turn around and add $3M between the 3 new relievers, minimum for the 3 would be $667k. All in all, Reds saved $5.3M or so dumping Iglesias and another ~$5M not offering Bradley arbitration.

    Overall, Reds have done enough to show clubhouse they are trying without mortgaging future for a small chance playoff run.

  3. DaveCT

    Davis is a bit more of an interesting puece than Williams, at this point anyway. But for every Davis and Williams, there are a Bonnin or Roa more than willing to take their places.

  4. Eric

    How long until these new additions report? Could we expect them tomorrow? By my count the Reds will still need to make a 26 man roster move to roster all 3 pitchers, am I right about that?

    • Doug Gray

      Givens won’t be on the roster tonight. The former Yankees will be. Givens gets in tonight but won’t be there for the game. He’ll be activated tomorrow.

  5. Jim Delaney

    The recent moves are encouraging but frustrating at the same time. If these moves were made at All Star break you likely have 4 more wins and would be 3 back in division a nd right on Padres behind. Still have time to make a run but made it a lot harder not making bullpen moves sooner.. Still would like to see some additional moves if possible. Catching Brewers is a tall task, 2nd wild card.might be easier road patch..

  6. Shawn

    I wouldn’t have traded Davis for a rental reliever. Especially when I don’t think these moves will make us better than the Brewers. Seems to me like we are just giving away Davis to make people think we are trying to win when we really ain’t.

    • Doug Gray

      I mean they absolutely are trying to win. Whether it will be enough winning is a different discussion.

      • Stock

        Really?

        Do these two trades make up for the loss of Castellanos? Do these two trades make the Reds any more than marginally better.

        Givens 2021 FIP: 4.67
        Wilson 2021 FIP: 6.63
        Cessa 2021 FIP: 3.49

        These trades are for appearances only. The Yankees are buyers and I am sure they felt their team got better by trading Wilson and Cessa.

        The Reds won’t finish within 10 games of the Brewers and should be sellers not buyers.

  7. IMHO

    Sometimes trades like these are the best for pitchers who might not get anywhere in the organization – look at JoJo Gray – he’s doing better than ever because he was given a chance. Some good pitchers quit this past year because they weren’t given a chance.

  8. Crestwood Craig

    Remember, trades involve 2 parties both willing to negotiate. Just because we want something doesn’t mean the other party has to act. I agree it’s frustrating to delay getting bullpen help, but I am glad we don’t seem to be overpaying for it.

  9. kevinz

    On record not wanting to take from our Future.
    Like these Moves though on Paper.
    No top Prospects traded.
    Try Surround this team with Pitching.
    Young Core have along with Vets.
    Pitching can take this club far.
    This for now and in the future.

    • Stock

      How can you be sure. What if the PTBNL in the Yankee deal is Nick Lodolo?

      And who is to say when a player is about to take off?

      I had Josiah Gray as my #15 prospect after the 2017 season. Doug had him at #14 in his mid-season 2018 rankings. Now he is a top 50 prospect in all of baseball and would probably be #1 or #2 if with the Reds still.

      Had the Reds traded Ashcraft last December people would be saying he was depth. Now, not so much.

      Trading Davis is a big deal. Outside of passing the Brewers, I am not sure how the Reds can win this trade. But if Davis gains a bit more control they can lose big. Bad trade.

      • Doug Gray

        What if the moon were actually made of cheese?

  10. Stock

    Mychael Givens sucks. Low FIP the last 3 years is 4.50.
    Justin Wilson is even worse. Lost 1.5 MPH on his FB this year and is just getting pounded. Hendrix would be better.
    Luis Cessa is okay.

    The combination of these three will make little to no difference in the bullpen. When you add in the loss of Castellanos the Reds have no chance to catch the Brewers. Therefore giving away Noah Davis is foolish. The second trade could also be foolish. I have no idea who the PTBNL is in this trade. But if it is a top 25 prospect or a prospect less than 20 it is a bad trade also

    The Reds aren’t trying to win with these trades. They are trying to make an appearance of wanting to win.

  11. Stock

    As always the Reds have no clue. Buying when they should be selling.