Zach Maxwell didn’t pitch much in 2022 after being drafted by the Reds out of Georgia Tech. He threw just 7.1 innings in five games between the Arizona Complex League Reds and Daytona Tortugas.
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Cincinnati chose to send Zach Maxwell back to the Florida State League when the 2023 season began. After tossing a perfect inning in his season debut, the reliever struggled the next few times out over the next two-and-a-half weeks as he walked seven batters and allowed five runs in 6.1 innings over a 5-game stretch. He got things turned around over the next month, allowing just one earned run in 12.2 innings with just four walks and racking up 18 strikeouts for Daytona.
In back-to-back outings against Palm Beach on May 30th and June 4th, Maxwell struggled and couldn’t complete the inning, giving up five runs in just 0.2 combined innings. Like before, he rebounded well over the next month and gave up just four runs in 16.0 innings (2.25 ERA) while striking out 27 batters. That stretch would end the first half, and it would also end his time in Daytona as he was promoted up to High-A Dayton for the second half.
The first two weeks after the promotion went well for Maxwell. He allowed two runs in four appearances, throwing 2.0 innings in each outing. But then he allowed three earned runs in 4.2 innings over the next two games. Things turned around over the next four weeks as he allowed just one hit and two walks in 9.1 shutout innings that spanned five games and saw him strike out 16 of the 32 hitters he faced. The season didn’t end on a high note, though. In his final two outings of the season against Fort Wayne he allowed eight runs in 3.2 innings and gave up two home runs – only the second and third that he had given up on the season.
Following the regular season the Reds opted to send Maxwell to the Arizona Fall League. He limited the runs given up to just three earned in 12.1 innings (2.19 ERA), but he walked nine batters in that same span. Of course, he also struck out 22 of the 53 batters he faced out in Arizona, too.
For all 2023 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Zach Maxwell Scouting Report
Position: Right-handed pitcher | B/T: R/R
Height: 6′ 6″ | Weight: 275 lbs | Acquired: 6th Round (2022 Draft)
Born: January 26, 2001
Fastball | A plus-plus offering that works in the mid-to-upper 90’s and touched 101 MPH in 2023.
Slider | A plus offering that works in the mid-to-upper 80’s.
When it comes to pure stuff there’s no one in the farm system who can match the 1-2 punch that Zach Maxwell brings. He’s got a plus-plus fastball and a plus slider, and both of them may play up beyond the velocity due to the movement. His fastball gets more rise than almost any fastball in professional baseball and he does that with elite velocity.
On the flip side of that, though, is his struggles with control. While it’s not at the very bottom of the ledger, it’s close to it. He’s struggled with walks since he headed off to college. While his walk rate has improved over time, as a professional he’s still walking six batters per 9-innings pitched.
During his limited time since being drafted, the Reds have used him as a multi-inning pitcher. Without improved control that seems like a role that won’t be there as a big leaguer. With more limited usage in terms of innings, perhaps that could improve his ability to throw strikes a little bit.
If he is able to improve his control, even just a little bit, he’s got the kind of stuff that could play a big role in a major league bullpen. But if he doesn’t he is the kind of guy who could struggle in the big leagues and be a back-and-forth between Triple-A and MLB kind of reliever. Big bullpen upside, but also plenty of risk given the walk rate.
Interesting Stat on Zach Maxwell
Cleanup hitters were just 4-29 (.138) against him with no home runs, two walks, and had 15 strikeouts against him in 2023.