After pitching four seasons at Rochester Institute of Technology from 2017-2020, Stevie Branche went undrafted in the shortened to five rounds 2020 MLB draft. When the free agency period opened a few days after the draft was completed and while the San Francisco Giants were also interested, Branche signed with the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately for him the 2020 minor league season was officially cancelled shortly thereafter and he’d have to wait until May of 2021 to get his professional career started.
When the 2021 season did begin the Reds assigned Stevie Branch to the Low-A Daytona Tortugas. He struggled a bit in the first two weeks – sort of. The righty only pitched in three games, throwing 5.1 innings and he struck out 14 batters. But he also allowed four earned runs, walked five batters, hit two others, and gave up five hits. He settled in for a bit after that, allowing just one run in the next three weeks as he threw 13.0 innings with six walks and 24 strikeouts.
In mid-June, though, Branche had a rough series against Palm Beach as he allowed eight earned runs – including the first two home runs of his career – in 4.2 innings over two games. Following that series he wouldn’t make an appearance for nearly a week, but when he got back on the mound he gave up just two earned runs over the next month (14.1 innings). That earned him a promotion to High-A Dayton at the beginning of August. The reliever kept on riding that hot streak with the Dragons as he allowed an earned run in just three of his 13 appearances, posting a 1.29 ERA in 21.0 innings where he struck out 32 batters in the final six weeks of the season.
For all 2021 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Stevie Branche Scouting Report
Position: Right-handed pitcher | B/T: R/R
Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 205 lbs | Acquired: Free Agent (2020)
Born: May 18, 1997
Fastball | After sitting in the low-90’s in college, Branche averaged 94 MPH and touched 99 in 2021 and did so with high spin rates.
Slider | A pitch that was developed as a pro, it’s a solid offering that can flash a little better at times.
Curveball | A second breaking ball that works a little slower than the slider but is also a solid offering that can flash itself above-average.
Change Up | It works in the mid-to-upper 80’s and is a third offering he can show hitters.
A 4-pitch reliever is not a common occurrence, but that’s what you get with Stevie Branche. He made 23 appearances that last for more than an inning, and even made one spot start during the year. He’s got enough pitches and a background from college that included time in the rotation (he made 30 starts) that allows him to get beyond an inning and even face batters more than once.
It’s the fastball that really sticks out for Branche where both the velocity and spin help tie hitters up. His secondary stuff is solid enough, too. Where the righty runs into problems at times is throwing enough strikes. In his 58.1 innings during 2021 he walked 35 batters and hit eight more. While his 100 strikeouts certainly helped him get away with that, as did the fact that he only gave up two home runs, he’s going to have to show a little more control as he moves up the ladder and cut down on the free passes.
Consistency in the strikezone is the biggest key moving forward, but being a bit more consistent with his secondary stuff would help, too. The upside is there to pitch late in games at the big league level, but the control of the zone also leaves his floor as a guy who struggles in the upper minors against more advanced hitters.
Interesting Stat on Stevie Branche
He pitched in 31 games during the season and allowed just two home runs. They came in the same game on June 15th against Palm Beach.
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