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.

About The Author

Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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14 Responses

  1. RedsGettingBetter

    James “Inconsistent” Marinan… Pretty good stuff with 97-98 MPH fastball and required presence as pitcher but until now he has struggled to be consistent. If I am not wrong, in AFL has performed with more of the same, he pitched the first seven scoreless innings but after that he struggled again and gave 7 runs in the next 7 IP..

  2. Norwood Nate

    This is a tough call. I really don’t see him sticking all year with a club, but at the same time the talent and stuff is there that you’d hate to lose him. I’m guessing it’ll come down to roster spots. Currently, I count 35 spots on the 40 man filled (btw the Reds site really needs to take off Lorenzen, Givens, and Cabrerra). Garrett, Hoffman, and Aquino may be non-tender/DFA candidates. There’s also guys like Bailey, Solomon, O’Brien, and Perez who may not have the most secure roster spots. Then there’s also trades that may free up spots (or require more spots to be taken).
    With Diaz and Cerda likely getting protected, there’s still room to protect Marinan and he’s likely to be the most talented player left under consideration, even if not the most likely to contribute. Still a tough call. I would have thought Friedl would have been protected before but he was able to stay within the organization until ready. Pitchers can hide a bit better on a roster though.

    • Matt

      And Greene still needs added. So that leaves 2 spots before non tenders. I think Marinan can be added because roster games can be played later if need be. Antone and probably Bailey are 60 day IL bound as soon as necessary. Hoffman is likely to be non tendered. Aquino might be, but with Castellanos gone, he may stick around.

      • Doug Gray

        The 60-day IL doesn’t exist in the offseason, so nope. Have to make decisions before non-tenders, but the Reds can always DFA someone before Friday afternoon to clear a spot if they want to create a needed one.

      • Matt

        I meant as soon as possible. Kinda like how the Reds did with Dietrich/Iglesias a few years ago. Brought in on minor league contracts, added to the 40 when the year began.

  3. MK

    Reading. Baseball America today, and top organizational prospects of Red Sox, Jeter Downs really had an awful AAA season in ‘21. He is still listed as # 6 prospect but have to wonder what discussion there is in Boston for whether a AAA guy with a .190/.272/.333 line gets added to their 40-man. Probably will on projections.

    • DaveCT

      He hasn’t played well in AZ either. But to your point, the Sox will protect him.

  4. Doc

    If Marinan has BP potential, does that improve his chances a bit, given the sorry overall BP performance in 2021? I guess we’ll know by the weekend.

  5. Danny

    Do you know anything about his stuff? How is his fastball, off-speed offerings, control, etc.?

    Without this basic information, its pretty darn difficult to analyze this situation.

    Obviously the Reds will base their decision off of his ability, but Doug I was hoping that you might know a bit about his playing ability- if so, I would love to hear about it!

    Thanks,

    Danny B

    • PTBNL

      huh????

      as Doug aptly wrote:

      “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.”

  6. Colorado Red

    I would say not to protect him.
    If he really stinks, so they get him back.
    A risk, but are there better guys you might want to take a chance with.

    • BK

      Agree. I don’t think there much risk in him getting picked and even less risk he sticks somewhere else. I don’t think its a great idea to carry too many players that are this far down in the minors.

  7. Mark

    According to this article of the day James Marinan was acquired in trade by the Reds from the Dodgers. It sounds like Reds International cap space was included in this trade with the Dodgers. The Reds had Marinan high on there draft board when He was draft eligible.

    Hate to see another team benefit from the Reds patience with this kid. Key to successful player acquisition is listening to your complete data base of information on players. Kind of how the Reds were able to get Josh Hamilton in the rule 5 draft many years ago and then trade him away when he was making little money and getting ready to become the MVP of the American league playing for Texas Rangers. If I remember correctly Joey Votto was the National League MVP and Hamilton was the American league MVP in 2010. Can you imagine the 2010 REDS team in 2010 with 2 MVP winners on the same team without Edison Volquez who was acquired in the trade. I would protect Marinan. You never know when the light is going to turn on with these young players.

    https://www.mlb.com/news/reds-acquire-james-marinan-aneurys-zabala-c284242836