The Rule 5 draft is coming up in a few weeks and teams must make decisions about who they will add to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the potential of being taken by another team. While teams will be selecting (assuming there’s no lockout happening) in a few weeks at the winter meetings, they only have until this Friday to decide who they want to add to the roster to keep other teams from potentially selecting them. One of the players up that the Cincinnati Reds must decide on is starting pitcher James Marinan.
The Case for Protection
The 2021 campaign didn’t begin in a way that James Marinan likely planned for it to begin. The right-handed pitcher didn’t break camp in May and join a team, instead he was held back and asked by the organization to work on certain things. He would spend the next seven weeks in Goodyear working and on June 19th he joined the Daytona Tortugas. He would battle some inconsistency, and he had plenty of struggles, too. Through his first 10 starts he posted an ERA of 6.58 and threw just 39.2 innings while walking 30 batters.
Things really clicked after that. Over the next month he would make five starts – three for Low-A Daytona and two more for High-A Daytona – and he dominated. He would throw 25.0 innings and allow just two runs (0.72 ERA) while giving up 12 hits, no home runs, walked 11 batters, and he struck out 28.
It wasn’t just the numbers that improved, his stuff got better as the season went along, too. The righty was reaching 97-98 MPH towards the end of the season with his fastball. The breaking ball can really spin at times, with spin rates that topped 3000 a few times during the year, and he’ll also show a change up.
A team that saw James Marinan at the end of the season can likely imagine a potentially useful reliever in 2022 who can work with a mid-to-upper 90’s fastball and a higher-spin breaking ball.
The Case for leaving him exposed
While James Marinan had a very good final month of the season, his first two months were anything but. And the month-and-a-half prior to that was spent in extended spring training. To go from extended spring training to the big leagues in less than a year is an incredible kind of jump.
A team would be taking a gamble on a pitcher who had plenty of struggles in 2021, and has just two starts above the Low-A level – though he is currently pitching some in the Arizona Fall League. His upper minors experience is basically non-existent. From a numbers standpoint, he posted a 5.30 ERA in 52.2 innings in Low-A this season and had 35 walks there. His finish to the year that included two starts in High-A with Dayton pushed his season ERA down to 4.31 helps out quite a bit, but even so – the numbers don’t stand out for the season.
What will happen?
This one does feel a little bit like a coin flip. One side of the coin says that a team would certainly take a chance to at least get a look in spring training and see what they can do. The stuff is there, and he finished the year very strong – showing that perhaps the light came on and the work began to pay off as the season came to an end. The other side of the coin says it’s a big gamble given the overall performance and lack of any upper level experience under his belt. When push comes to shove, I think that the Reds will take a chance and protect him.