When Joe Boyle was selected in the 5th and final round of the shortened 2020 Major League Baseball draft he and the Cincinnati Reds likely knew that he wasn’t going to take the mound. A few weeks later it was confirmed as the 2020 minor league season was cancelled.

In April of this past year during minor league spring training the reports coming out of Arizona were promising, but late in the month he was injured right before teams broke camp to head out to their affiliates. After missing the first three months of the season, the big right-handed pitcher made his pro debut on what was basically a rehab assignment with the complex level Reds. He would make four starts, working his way from one inning up to three innings over a span of two weeks, not allowing any runs, walking just one batter, and striking out 13 of the 24 hitters he faced.

The Reds then sent Joe Boyle to join the Low-A Daytona Tortugas for the final three weeks of the season. In his debut in full-season ball he didn’t allow a hit, but did give up two earned runs as he walked four batters and hit another one while striking out five against St. Lucie. The next time out he faced off against Fort Myers at home and tossed 4.0 shutout innings but struggled to be consistent with the zone as he walked five and struck out eight to wrap up August.

On September 7th he took the mound in Jupiter and struggled as he lasted just 1.2 innings and allowed three earned on two hits, two walks, and a homer while striking out five of the nine hitters he faced. A week later he took the mound for the final time of the season and put together his best start. Facing Palm Beach, Boyle struck out 10 Cardinals hitters, walked just two and allowed two hits in 4.0 shutout innings.

For all 2021 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Joe Boyle Scouting Report

Position: Right-handed pitcher | B/T: R/R

Height: 6′ 7″ | Weight: 240 lbs | Drafted: 5th Round (2020 Draft)

Born: August 14, 1999

Fastball | A plus offering that works in the mid-to-upper 90’s and has above-average spin rates.

Curveball | Working in the upper 70’s to low 80’s, it’s an above-average offering with 12-6 breaking action.

Slider | A plus offering that works in the mid 80’s with late bite.

Two plus pitches and a third above-average pitch gives Joe Boyle a very high upside. His fastball has been clocked as high as 102 MPH when he was at Notre Dame. As a professional he topped out at 98 MPH in games during the 2021 season. With two breaking balls that are both quality offerings, there’s a few different looks he can show hitters. The lack of a change up could result in a move back to the bullpen in the long run.

While the stuff for Joe Boyle is elite, the control has been anything but. While at Notre Dame he walked 48 batters in 36.0 innings pitched. While he limited the walks at the complexes out in Arizona between spring training and his rehab time in August, once he got to full season Daytona there were some real hiccups when it came to throwing strikes as he walked 13 batters in 12.2 innings.

There’s a high ceiling and a low floor for a guy like Boyle. He’s got elite stuff but he also walks guys at rates that simply are not going to work without real improvement. He needs to cut his walk rate in half to get to a range of walks that is just considered poor. On one hand – the reports out of Arizona can give you some hope that it’s possible that he could do that. On the other hand is the time at Notre Dame and the time in Daytona where he walked more than a batter per inning.

Interesting Stat on Joe Boyle

Small sample size, but left-handed hitters went 2-28 against Boyle in 2021.

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43 Responses

  1. RedsGettingBetter

    Hopefully he could reach better control and cut the walk-rate off as long as the minors coaching staff help him… He may become a very good pitcher either as a starter or reliever…

  2. Stock

    This is the one slotting that confuses me the most. Joe Boyle has the highest ceiling of any Reds pitching prospect. This is quite a statement since Hunter Greene and his 105 mph fastball is part of the Reds organization. Boyle struck out over 50% of the batters he faced last year. I have never seen that before. I understand he has control issues but based upon the limited pitches I saw I felt his slider was better than that of Aroldis Chapman or Randy Johnson.

    I think Dwight Gooden and Randy Johnson are a great comps for Boyle but below are 5 pitchers who had control issues in the minors.

    Tom Gordon had a career WAR of 34.7 but in A ball he walked 6.7/9 IP and struck out 10.67/9 IP. Two years later he was pitching in the majors (163 IP, 3.64 ERA).

    Doc Gooden had a career WAR of 56.7 but in A ball he walked 5.3/9 IP and struck out 14.1/9 IP. Two years later he was winning a Cy Young award (276 IP, 1.53 ERA). If not for drugs I feel Gooden would have gone down in history as the best pitcher to play the game.

    Matt Moore was once the #2 prospect in baseball and had a career WAR of 8.2 but in A ball he walked 5.1/9 IP and struck out 12.9/9 IP. Three years later he was pitching in the majors (173 IP, 3.81 ERA).

    Nolan Ryan had a career WAR of 106.7 but in A ball he walked 6.2/9 IP and struck out 13.7/9 IP. Two years later he was pitching in the majors (134 IP, 3.09 ERA).

    Randy Johnson had a career WAR of 110.4 but in A ball he walked 7.1/9 IP and struck out 10.0/9 IP. Three years later he was pitching in the majors (131 IP, 4.40 ERA).

    Joe Boyle walked 9.2/9 IP and struck out 19.9/9 IP in A ball last year. I understand he walked far more than the pitchers above but he also struck out far more. More importantly he was learning and improved every game. He was learning how to throw strikes and had the season gone on for another month his BB/9 IP would have been in the 5 per 9 IP range of these other pitchers.

    • MBS

      I like you’re optimistic outlook. Boyle could be a beast if he lowers his walks. It will be interesting to see his K rate when he faces more advanced batters. I pegged him as back of the bullpen kinda guy. I can see the gates flying open in the 8th, and Big Bad Boyle coming out throwing heat, and striking out the side. I don’t remember having so many promising arms coming through the Reds system. It’s true, that I didn’t follow the prospects 10 years ago, so I could be wrong, but this feels different. It feels like we could get 2 to 3 legit arms every year graduating from the minors.

      Last year we got Gutierrez, Santillan, Moreta, and Sanmartin.

      This year we should get Greene, Lodolo, and probably Ashcraft.

      Then you got a boat load of guys who could be here the following season. Bonnin, and Abbott really stand out to me, but maybe even Soloman, if he recovers from his surgery, same with Bailey.

  3. Stock

    Joe Boyle improved every game in Daytona last year. It seems that there must have been an adjustment necessary upon moving from the Complex league to full season leagues. I have no idea if he needed to figure out the correct release point on his slider or what the problem was but it seems to be a work in motion. Here is a summary of his four starts for Daytona:

    Date___Innings ___K% ___BB% ___K% – BB%___K/9___BB/9___K/BB
    August25___3___0.385___0.308___0.077______15______12______1.25
    August31___4___0.444___0.278___0.166______18______11.25____1.6
    Sept 7___1.67___0.556___0.222___0.334______26.95____10.78____2.5
    Sept 14____4____0.588____0.118____0.47______22.5_____4.5______5
    Total____12.67____0.491____0.228____0.263____19.89____9.23____2.15

    Every start his BB% went down. Every start his K% went up. Doug
    provided a video of 19 swinging strikes in his final start. I believe on 4 of those swings the batter ended up on his knees because of the movement on his slider. His K%-BB% of 26.3% was bettered by only 3 pitchers (Corbin Burnes, Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole) who pitched enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. For comparison Luis Castillo had a 14.6% K%-BB% in 2021.

    • Stock

      August 25 – K% = 38.5%, BB% = 30.8%
      August 31 – K% = 44.4%, BB% = 27.8%
      Sept ____7 – K% = 55.6%. BB% = 22.2%
      Sept. _14 – K% = 58.8%, BB% = 11.8%
      Season Tot K% = 49.1%, BB% = 22.8%

  4. Stock

    A pitcher with a high K% should at some point play in the majors (assuming he can stay healthy) and has a good chance of being a top 100 ML prospect. Below is my findings on pitchers who struck out at least 10/9 IP in the Florida State league between 2008 and 2017. I choose the Florida State league because these are the same ballparks that the low A southeast league plays in now.

    Step 1: Separated SP from RP. Any pitcher with more than 2 relief appearances was excluded. A pitcher also had to pitch at least 50 innings.

    Step 2: From the Step 1 SP list I took the top 5 pitchers who averaged at least 10K/9IP. Most years the list did not include even 5
    pitchers.

    Step 3: I deleted any pitcher age 23 or older from the list. If you are 23 and in A ball you should do well and it may not be because you have a great arm.

    This provided me a list of 18 players.

    Three player on this list struck out at least 12.75/9 IP. All three (Matt Moore #2, Alex Reyes #4 and Shelby Miller #6) went on to be top 6 prospects. All three pitched in the majors in 2021.

    7 pitchers averaged between 11 and 12.74 K/9 IP. All 7 played in the majors and 6 of the 7 were at one time top 100 Prospects

    The final 8 pitchers averaged 10 – 10.99 K/9 IP. All 8 made the majors and 5 of the 8 were top 100 prospects.

    In total 14 of the 18 went on to become top 100 prospects and all 18 made the majors.

    The pitchers who made it for 2021 are Asa Lacy (#37 prospect already), Kyle Nicolas and Logan Allen.

    • Doug Gray

      This is problematic research because it ignores that the FSL was a much better league in 2008-2017 than it was in 2021, not only because of the level change, but also the elimination of non-complex league rookie ball that helped water down the talent level at the Low-A level compared to the past, too. It also ignores that Boyle, probably unlike everyone else on your list, threw more than a handful of innings and didn’t walk more batters than they threw innings. You’re trying to compare a guy who basically had 2-3 starts worth of innings to guys who pitched significantly more innings.

      • Redsvol

        We know Doug but can’t you let us have something to get excited about during this barren time of no mlb news!

      • Doug Gray

        Not if it’s being excited for the wrong reasons. I’m a monster in that way.

      • Stock

        RedsVol, last July I got overly excited about Elly De La Cruz and bumped him to #5 in my rankings based upon his underlying stats. Much the same way as I have Boyle at #10 and with about the same amount of playing time. For De La Cruz it was the high percentage of extra base hits that to me indicated he was hitting the ball extremely hard. For Boyle it is the strikeout and the swinging strikes. Also from the video I have seen players are swinging and are so fooled they end up on their knees.

  5. James K

    If I were batting against a pitcher who throws about 100 mph and has terrible control, I wouldn’t go to the plate thinking, “Get a hit.” I would go to the plate thinking, “Try to survive.”

    • Doc

      Ala facing Ryne Duren and his coke bottle glasses in the days gone by. I think a lot of would be pinch hitters were on bathroom breaks when Duren threw.

    • Stock

      Nope.

      1. Ariel Hernandez never started a game in the USA. He was strictly a RP.
      2. Ariel Hernandez was in Dayton (A league) at the age of 24 where he had his best season but was 2.3 years older than the competition.
      3. Ariel Hernandez was a FA playing in the independent leagues at the age of 23.

      But mostly 1. You don’t compare a career RP to a career SP.

      • Optimist

        Actually Hernandez may be the best comparison, but watered down in the sense of floor and ceiling. Namely, IIRC, Hernandez had two great pitches, the fastball and slider. I don’t believe he ever got a 3rd pitch, which likely had him in the pen sooner, and his ratios were not this extreme. He had a lower ceiling, but his floor was AAA/AAAA and some memorable cup of coffee appearances.

        Boyle clearly has a much higher ceiling, and a much greater chance and development time to get there, but a lower floor as well if all that extra time cannot get him to a lower walk rate.

        Another milder comparison may be to Antone – he had issues the 1st two years in the minors before really putting it together.

        An interesting wager would be the odds of his either having 0 or <500 ip in MLB. Seems much like an all or nothing career path. Will be fascinating to watch this year.

      • Doug Gray

        Hernandez definitely had a 3rd pitch. His change up was good…. just like his other stuff – when he could throw strikes.

  6. Stock

    I think to look at comps for Boyle based upon K’s is fruitless. No one in the history of baseball compares. But when you consider the reason he gets so many K’s is because of his great slider you have something to compare. The three best sliders in the history of baseball may be Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson. Johnson and Carlton are without a doubt in the top 3.

    What did these three do in A Ball.

    Gibson: 7.1 BB/9 and 5.0 K/9
    Carlton: 4.9 BB/9 and 9.9 K/9
    Johnson: 7.2 BB/9 and 9.4 K/9

    It took all three time to learn to harness their slider and to be able to consistently throw it for strikes. None ever did to the point where their career BB/9 dropped below 3.0.

    • DaveCT

      All in all, Boyle is a good example of the great leap of faith required for pitchers exactly like him. Massive stuff and upside, low floor. Maybe the basement. Teams frequently take flyers on other guys like Boyle, but one difference and hopefully still intact with the Reds is better scouting, drafting and development. We shall see. Personally, I see this guy needing to go methodically step by step.

  7. BK

    @Doug, great scouting report as always! @Stock, thanks for the additional analysis. Redsminorleagues.com at its very best!!!

  8. Stock

    Doug has four comments above.

    1. The competition is more watered down now than in the past because of the elimination of Billings and Greenville.
    2. Sample size. Boyle pitched only 12.2 innings in 2021
    3. Boyle walked more than 13 in 12.2 innings where the players on my list maxed out at 7.84/9 IP
    4. FSL level was A+ and now Daytona is A (like the Midwest league was prior to 2021.

    Response:

    1. Systems are actually less watered down now. In 2019 the Reds spread their lower level prospects over 5 teams. Now they are concentrated with 3 teams. The Reds haven’t made a 21 – 40 round pick in 2 years. Therefore, the filler these players represented is no longer there.

    2 and 3. I agree with this but I also feel this is why Boyle was at 9 BB/9 IP in 2021. Every game his BB% and his K% improved.

    Date K% BB%
    8/25 38.5% 30.8%
    8/31 44.4% 27.8%
    9/7 55.6% 22.2%
    9/14 58.8% 11.8%

    Had he pitched 100 innings I this his BB% would have still been 15% or so which is not good (about 6 BB/9 IP). But it is comparable to most of the players on this list. But this ignores that his K/9 IP is 44% higher than any player on this list. Shelby Miller at 13.75 is the closest. His slider is so good there is no comparison between him and other pitchers. That tells me his ceiling is greater than any of the ones on this list, all of which made the majors. 14 of the 18 were top 100 prospects. If his ceiling is much higher than any of these and his floor is exaggerated (his long term BB/9 will not be 9/9IP) then he should be ranked higher.

    Doug has Yerlin Confidan ranked ahead of Boyle. Confidan is ranked in the right spot (my opinion as I have him ranked 23). But he sold out to hit HR the last month or so. In his last 69 PA he struck out 32% of the time and walked 4% of the time. No one has ever made it to the majors with these ratios. All 18 pitchers who struck out 10/9 IP in my study made the majors and Boyle nearly doubled this rate. Similar arguement for Ivan Johnson at #19.

    Christian Roa is ranked #9 on Doug’s list. While at Daytona his K%-BB% was 15.4% (15.1% for his entire season). Joe Boyle had a K%-BB% of 26.3%. If you look at Boyle’s last 2 games where it seems he was making significant progress it was 42.3% (I know small sample size).

    My opinion is Roa has the ceiling of a #4 or #5. Boyle’s ceiling is Hall of Fame pitcher with the best slider to ever play the game (his last start he faced 17 batters and had 19 swinging strikes, absolutely unbelievable). I also feel there is a better chance of Boyle throwing more than 50 innings as a SP than there is of Roa throwing 50 innings as a SP. I understand the sample size issue but feel a larger sample size would have put him in the top 5 or 6 Reds prospects and I have him at #10.

    4. To come

    • Dan

      You’re inferring off of 19 innings that Boyle’s going to continue carrying an unheard of k rate while throwing the greatest slider the world has ever seen. I think you might be getting ahead of things a bit my man…

    • Doug Gray

      1. You aren’t addressing what I said, though. While the SYSTEM may not be watered down, the Low-A level IS watered down. Teams sent players to Low-A in 2021 that otherwise would have been in their rookie-ball levels, but since those teams don’t exist anymore, they have to go somewhere. This is a fact and I’ve read multiple organizations make public statements saying such.

      Everything else: You are basing it on 12.2 innings and that’s just about as meaningless of a sample size as you can get.

    • Stock

      I can’t dispute your sample size arguement. But I can say that Boyle’s swinging K% has already normalized in this small sample. I also know there is a strong correlation between swinging K% and K/9. Therefore while his K/9 has not yet normalized I think it is safe to say that it is greater than 15K/9IP.

    • Stock

      I also agree with your statement that teams sent players to A ball last year that would have remained in rookie ball. However, I disagree with your analogy that this means the system is watered down because of it.

      Assuming 30 healthy players per team. The Reds used to have 150 prospects over A ball and Rookie ball. Now they have 90. Which 60 did they drop? My guess is that prospect 91 – 150 are dropped. That is not watering down the system. That is getting rid of filler and strengthening every team.

      Two examples from 2021:

      Gabriel Aguilera dominated the complex league and the Reds promoted him to Daytona. In the past he would have been promoted to Billings. At Daytona he had a 3.28 ERA so I don’t think him replacing prospect 91 in the lower farm system diluted the Southeastern A League but improved it.

      Elly De La Cruz – Same situation as Gabriel Aguilera.

      When you add teams like the NFL did years ago you dilute the quality of competition. When you subtract teams you enhance the quality of competition.

      Granted that means Elly De La Cruz was rushed to A ball and would have been better off in Billings. But there is no doubt the league was better with Elly De La Cruz playing than they were with Gus Steiger (170 AB in 2.5 months prior to De La Cruz’ arrival and 46 after his arrival) because he skipped Billings. If not Elly would be the one sitting on the bench and Gus Steiger (.565 OPS) would have been in the lineup.

      So while I agree with you and your source that players are being rushed up the ladder more than before, I disagree with the premise that this is lowering the level of competition in the leagues.

      • Doug Gray

        You can disagree if you want to, but everyone in baseball speaks about this as an absolute fact. The level of play is lower.

      • Stock

        The level of play is lower because of Covid 19. Players in Rookie ball and A ball did not play competitively last year. This has nothing to do with contraction.

        Simple math tells you if you cut your 60 worst players your teams will be better. If you limit the draft to 600 players instead of 1200 players the level of competition will be better.

        Expansion always dilutes the player pool. Contraction always improves the player pool.

        I do agree there were more K’s this year than ever before. I do agree there were more errors this year than ever before. But I am sure if you asked the same experts they would tell you it was more about taking a year off from competitive action than it was about diluting the player pool. Especially when cutting your the worst 2,000 players in the low minors is not diluting the player pool.

  9. Stock

    4. As promised. I looked at the Midwest league which was a league at the level as Daytona. I included the condition that your K%/BB% had to be greater than 2, but all other rules to create the list remained the same. To be consistent with my first list I isolated the top 18 players.

    Remember that Joe Boyle’s 19.9 K/9 is more than 50% better than the best player (Dylan Cease) who qualified for this list.

    4 players had at least 12.75K/9IP. All made the majors and all except Andrew Bailey who was a very good closer prior to injuries derailing his career were top 100 prospects.

    5 players had between 12 – 12.74 K/9 IP. All 5 made the majors and 4 of the 5 were top 100 prospects (Shelby Miller and Clayton Kershaw were top 10 prospects).

    9 players had between 11.30 and 11.99 K/9 IP. 8 of these 9 made the majors and 4 were top 100 prospects ( Neftali Feliz and Alex Reyes were top 10 prospects). Kyle Smith did not make the majors and his BB/9 IP was bettered only by Kluber and Adam Plutko. His K/BB ratio was only bettered by those two also.

    In total 17 of 18 players made the majors. 12 were top 100 prospects. Corey Kluber was the best pitcher on this list who was not a top 100 prospect. His K/9 was 50% better than anyone on this list but his BB/9 was 50% worse than anyone on this list.

  10. Old Big Ed

    I don’t generally disagree, but The Immortal Ryne Duren in A-ball at age 22 walked 194 in 198 IPs. (No apparent typo on the IPs at age 22 in minor league ball.) Duren was a helluva “prospect” but …

    Prospect rankings to me are inherently subjective, because the ranker is judging whether huge upside potential like Boyle is “better” than a more low-floor guy like Nick Lodolo or Matt McLain.

    I do believe that patience pays off with tall pitchers, because it just seems to take longer for them to fully hone their mechanics.

  11. Stock

    Hunter Greene has a very high ceiling (maybe top 10 of all MLB prospects). However, I believe his ceiling is 3rd highest among Reds prospects. It is exceeded by Joe Boyle and his 19.9 K/9 IP and Elly De La Cruz. Greene is rightly a better prospect for two reasons. He is closer to the majors and he does not have a red flag screaming beware.

    Elly De La Cruz was Doug’s 4th ranked prospect in spite of the fact that he struck out in 31% of his plate appearances and walked in 4.9% of his plate appearances. In his first 25 games in Daytona De La Cruz’ K% was 27.8%. In his last 25 games it was 34.3%.

    When I think of huge K% and low BB% I think Javier Baez. In his major league career his has a 29.3% K% and a 4.8% BB%. In his A ball (at age 19 just like De La Cruz) he had a 20.4% K% and a 3.8% BB%. Like most batters his K% increased as he progressed. This does not mean De La Cruz’ K% will be north of 30% if he reaches the majors. It does not mean De La Cruz should not be a top 5 prospect. I have him at #5 with only Jay (I got it right this time) Allen ahead of him from Doug’s list. De La Cruz’ Ceiling has forced him into the top five.

    Boyle also has a huge ceiling. His K% is unheard based upon my research. His swinging strike rate has already normalized so it is safe to assume that his K% will be consistently 10% higher than any pitcher I researched. But it is also true that his BB% is terrible. But here is the thing. History is full of pitchers who reduced their BB% by more than 50%. If Boyle can do this he is a hall of famer. Therefore, I have him ranked in my top 10.

    In short I think that of all the Reds prospects (and you can include recent graduates like India and Stephenson) the four prospects with the best chance of making the Hall of Fame are Hunter Greene, Jay Allen, Joe Boyle and Elly De La Cruz (in that order).

    • Doug Gray

      Hunter Greene has a ceiling higher than Boyle. You are completely ignoring that Joe Boyle has one of the worst walk rates you will ever come across.

      • Stock

        No I am not. I am just assuming that if Joe Boyle will reach his ceiling he will be throwing strikes like he did in Arizona or slightly better than he did in his last start. My definition of ceiling is best realistic performance. I see no reason Joe Boyle can not reduce his BB% to 11% by the time he reaches the majors.

      • Doug Gray

        You see no reason why a guy who since he started college has walked 23% of the hitters he’s faced can’t reduce his walk rate by more than half? No reason at all?

  12. BK

    Do we know the nature of the injury which kept Boyle out for the first 3 months of the 2021 season?

  13. Jonathan Linn

    HI – i think it would be cool to do a podcast between Doug and Stock to discuss the prospect lists. That would be really cool and informative. What do you all think?