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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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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5 Responses

  1. Matt

    If he has another year like last year, he should at the very least find himself in Louisville by the end of the year. A lot of walks, but the strikeout rate, at least at this point, should be more than enough to offset that. As long as he’s starting clean innings and not inheriting runners.

  2. Old Big Ed

    Given that Branche uses 4 pitches, the obvious question is whether the Reds will try him as a starter. He was exclusively a starter in college (at D-IIII), and he averaged just short of 2 IP per appearance in 2021, after a layoff in the no-MiLB 2020.

    He seems like a plausible reliever prospect, too, though, or maybe even an opener down the line. He will be 25 in May, but age doesn’t matter much for pitchers.

    Even if Branche doesn’t make it, finding and signing him was a good scouting effort by the Reds, and a good sign for the organization overall.

    • Doug Gray

      Tougher question to answer today because of the change in the pitching department in the minors. I know that Kyle Boddy had mentioned that Branche was throwing multiple innings in case they decided to give him a chance to start.

      That said, I think the strike throwing issues are going to have to show a lot better if he’s going to really get that kind of opportunity. And fairly or unfairly, age is working against him here, too – at least as a starter. While you often see relievers show up in their late 20’s and stick around, you rarely see that happen with starters.

      • Old Big Ed

        No doubt, but Jacob DeGrom (birthday just one day off Branche’s) debuted in MLB at age 26, and had only pitched 111 innings in his age 24 year, at A and A+.

        I am certainly not saying Branche is DeGrom (who had only 20 BBs at age 24), but I think they still have time to try Branche a starter, if that is where they decide to go with him.

        It is a good problem to have.

  3. MK

    Had the opportunity to meet and sit with his family at a game last season. I believe Kyle Boddy was a significant reason why he selected the Reds as a Free Agent. Dad said he was excited to work with him. His goal was to hit triple digits in mph but got just to 99. I was with them a night he walked the bases loaded (which made them a little uncomfortable) but then he turned it around and struck out the side. Happy ending.

    He got better as season progressed. Looks like a closer it waiting to me.