After spending four years at Princeton, James Proctor signed with the Cincinnati Reds after going undrafted in the 5-round, shortened 2020 MLB Draft. With the 2020 season cancelled, Proctor had to wait until May of 2021 to get his professional career started.
When the season began the Reds sent the right-handed pitcher to join the Low-A Daytona Tortugas. On opening day in Daytona James Proctor came out of the bullpen and allowed just one hit over 3.0 shutout innings against Palm Beach. Five days later he faced off against Palm Beach again, but this time it was as a starter and he allowed a run over 4.0 innings and picked up four strikeouts for the second consecutive game. His next start came six days later against St. Lucie when he struck out eight batters in 5.0 innings and was charged with just one unearned run.
A week later he returned to the mound for his best start of his season. Taking on Jupiter, Proctor struck out 11 batters and walked just one in 5.0 hitless innings. Teammates Vin Timpanellia, Ricky Karcher, Nick Hanson, and Carson Spiers contributed to holding Jupier hitless the rest of the way as they completed a combined no-hitter, winning 1-0 on a run that they scored in the bottom of the 1st inning.
The next two starts for Proctor were solid, but short. He threw just 3.0 and 3.2 innings in each of the starts and allowed just one run over those 6.2 innings. To that point in the season he had allowed just two earned runs, but in his next start on June 10th he gave up four earned runs in what would turn out to be his worst start of the season with Daytona. The next time out he was charged with three unearned runs in 3.0 innings. On the 22nd he only threw one inning before rain delayed the game for 90 minutes and led to his removal from the game. He returned to the mound five days later and didn’t give up an earned run over 5.0 innings, but he would hit the injured list following the start and miss the next five weeks.
James Proctor returned to the mound for Daytona on August 8th and threw a perfect inning – as a starter – before exiting the game. He returned to the mound four days later in relief and picked up the win in 1.1 innings. His next two games came as a starter, but he only threw 2.0 and 3.0 innings and he walked five batters between the two games. On September 1st he was promoted to High-A Dayton and tossed 4.0 shutout innings against Lansing.
Six days later he faced off against Lake County and after not having given up a home run all season, the Captains put three of them over the fence as they scored six runs off of Proctor in 4.1 innings. Five days later he faced the Captains again and this time he allowed just one hit, but did walk four batters in 4.0 shutout innings that included six strikeouts. His final start of the year came on the 18th and was charged with two earned runs in 4.0 innings with four walks and six strikeouts.
For all 2021 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
James Proctor Scouting Report
Position: Right-handed pitcher | B/T: R/R
Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 215 lbs | Acquired: NDFA (2020)
Born: July 18, 1998
Cutter | The pitch he throws in place of a fastball, his cutter works in the low 90’s that tops out around 94 MPH.
Change Up | A pitch that doesn’t show up often and is a below-average offering in the low 80’s.
Curveball | An average to slightly above-average offering that works in the mid-to-upper 70’s.
Slider | An average to slightly above-average offering that works in the low-to-mid 80’s.
For the most part, James Proctor is a 3-pitch guy. The change up doesn’t get used all that often as he relies on the cutter and breaking stuff. There’s a reason, though, that he relies on those three offerings – they’re all good. The two breaking balls are similar in action, but the curveball comes in a bit slower. Both will flash above-average. The cutter is a pitch he’s relied on far more as a professional than he used while in college, though his fastball had some cut to it while at Princeton, it’s a bit of a different offering than he was utilizing before he was a professional.
Proctor generated a ton of grounders in his debut season. In both Daytona and Dayton his groundball rate was over 60% – for context, the average groundball rate in MLB was 43% – and was 61.4% on the season. He only allowed a home run in one of his 18 appearances all season, but as noted above, that game included three home runs allowed.
There were two stretched during the year where he had some struggles with walks. In his last six games he pitched 21.1 innings and walked 17 batters – much of that coming in a promotion to High-A. He’s going to need to avoid stretches like that moving forward.
While he spent much of the time starting in the 2021 season, he didn’t really pitch deep into games in either the number of innings in a start or in how many pitches he was throwing. While starting may not be off of the table in the long run, the profile looks a bit more like a reliever with a good arsenal between the cutter/slider/curve.
Interesting Stat on James Proctor
He was absolutely dominant against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .157/.269/.226 line in 120 plate appearances.
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The Reds have had remarkable success, to this point, with the free agent signings in 2020. Kudos to the scouting dept. It could end up being better than a normal full rounds draft year.
Got some great arms including Spiers, Proctor, Timpanelli, Branche. If one or two make it to Big Leagues it would be remarkable.
It *seems* like the early returns on the free agent signings from 2020 truly do show which teams took things seriously and which teams didn’t. It will obviously take time to truly see how it plays out, but the early data is telling.
I think if the 10 of Proctor/ Branche/ Demurias/ Boyle/ Duarte/ Pucheu/ Roxby/ Salazar/ Spiers/ Timpanelli can end up producing five cheap, 40 FV grade relievers among them, the Reds should be set up for some quality seasons. That’s one, IIRC, draft pick among them.
Middle relief arms cost money on the open market and adequacy on the cheap means Cincinnati can spend elsewhere. Too, they may weather some storms on the injury front.
When I look back, I’m still amazed at what Baker got from LeCure, Ondrusek, and the like right when they needed it. Other similarly talented arms have come up since and not done as much.