There have been some positives on the Cincinnati Reds farm system this year – even from the pitching side of things. But those positives have not come from any of the organization’s top pitching prospects.

Rhett Lowder began the season in High-A Dayton and despite a hiccup in one of his five starts there, he posted a 2.49 ERA and got promoted to Double-A. Things couldn’t have gone worse for the #7 overall pick and top Reds pitching prospect since his arrival in Chattanooga. He’s made three starts and given up 15 runs on 20 hits, a hit batter, and four walks in 11.1 innings. His ERA with the Lookouts sits at 11.91 and it’s bumped his season ERA through eight starts to 5.40.

Connor Phillips, who entered the season as the Reds 4th overall prospect and a top 100 prospect in baseball, headed back to Louisville after pitching in 11 games for the Bats last season (and making five starts for Cincinnati at the end of the year). Through nine starts his ERA is 8.53 and he’s got a WHIP of 2.11 thanks to 47 hits and 33 walks – and his WHIP doesn’t account for another five hit batters -in his 38.0 innings pitched.

The Reds 6th rated prospect, Chase Petty – who dominated last year while being cautiously utilized after an elbow injury in the spring – has had an up-and-down season so far. His April was downright terrible as he posted a 9.56 ERA in four starts. Things were looking up in May through his first four starts as he posted a 1.80 ERA in them, but last night in Chattanooga he managed to record just one out and was charged with four earned runs and two unearned runs. His ERA is at 6.19 through nine outings and he’s already given up 12 more earned runs this season than he did last season despite pitching 28 fewer innings.

Ty Floyd, who was the 38th overall draft pick last summer, entered the year as the club’s 14th rated prospect and 4th rated pitching prospect, is out for the year after having shoulder surgery.

Lyon Richardson is the team’s 5th rated pitching prospect and the 17th overall prospect in the organization entering the season, is coming off of a season where he pitched in A-ball, Double-A, Triple-A, and the big leagues. He found success in the minor leagues until he reached Triple-A and the big leagues down the stretch. Back in Triple-A this season he’s kept his ERA low by comparison to the rest of the group – he’s rocking a 3.98 ERA through 10 starts. But he’s been walking a fine line nearly every time out. In his 40.2 innings he’s walked 30 batters and hit three more while giving up 38 hits along the way. Keeping the ball in the park has helped as he’s given up just two home runs this season.

To say that it’s been rough go on the mound to begin the season for the top five pitching prospects in the organization would be a huge understatement. It’s still May, so there’s plenty of time in the season for four of those guys to get things turned around, but as of today the results have been worrisome.

14 Responses

  1. Mauired

    Besides the walks Richardson has been pretty good. After Williamson he’s the next starter called to pitch for Reds if needed.

    Aguilar has done his annual under the radar competing or outperforming the top starter prospects. He’s probably going to Louisville very soon. I have noticed he initially struggles whenever he’s promoted though.

    • LarkinPhillips

      Aguiar seems to have a real feel for pitching and the ability to learn and make adjustments. Could be a consistent 4/5 in a couple years or nice piece to swing a trade.

  2. Melvin

    Good thing we don’t need any of those 5 right now.

  3. mac624

    The philosophy for both hitting across the organization and the pitching in the minors is baffling. Major changes are needed. Whomever are the responsible for the coordination of such activities needs replaced by someone more competent.

    • DaveCT

      That philosophy and program has enabled the club to develop Greene, Abbott, Ashcraft, Lodolo, Williamson (in part), Antone, Diaz, Cruz, Spiers, Santillan, Maxwell, Gutierrez, Rainey, SanMartin, Maureta, Naughton, with Aguiar, & Acuna at AA.

      In the pipeline and being successful are Farr, Abel, Rudd, Lyons, Rivera, Mey, Laureano, Aguilera, Franco, Laurent, Montero, & Serwinoski. Rookie Leagues, excluded.

      Individual struggles, especially pitchers with known control issues, does not reflect the program. Neither do injuries,

      Phillips is just 23, with just three full seasons of starting as a pro; his only college experience was four starts at JuCo in 2020. Richardson seems like he’s been here forever. But two of his six seasons were complete washouts (2020 and TJ surgery). Petty is 21 and making the most difficult jump in the minors, to AA. Lowder is similar.

      While it’s concerning to see these four struggling, judgment of them as individuals won’t matter until the end of the season, if not 2025. A negative judgment if the system is just inaccurate.

  4. LarkinPhillips

    I have been hoping for this article. It seems so weird to see nearly every top pitching prospect struggle with the same issues. It raises some red flags to me and makes me wonder if tweaks were made to increase speed and movement at the expense of control and pitch mix.

    • Doug Gray

      Chase Petty’s velo is up from last year. I don’t think that’s the case for anyone else. And it’s not like Petty’s not mixing and not getting movement on his pitches – he really is.

      • LarkinPhillips

        Whats your thought on why so many are underperformed and/or injured? Petty was my main thought when making that statement. Philips and Richardson have always had control issues if memory serves me correct.

  5. RedsGettingBetter

    Even Serwinowski started very good this season including a big scoreless streak in his first 4 outings but since then the things are going south for him…Even though he keeps an ERA below 4.00 in 7 outings…
    Aguiar is pitching solid at AA but nothing spectacular…
    The only guy showing a big progress is Zach Maxwell who was unhittable at AA earning his promotion to triple-A …

    • Mauired

      I think Aguilar’s floor is a backend solid starter. But his ceiling is more 2/3 in my opinion. He only pitched a year or two in his life before Reds drafted him. He just continues to get better. He’s still just 22 and about to be one step away from the majors. And his career minor league numbers probably rival any current Reds starter. 3.09 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 300ks in 276 innings.

  6. Michael Wilson

    Cerda and Alford were released in Chattanooga. Does that open a spot for Jay Allen from Dayton, or do they have too many OF already?
    Stafura to Daytona, good news, maybe Lin soon also.

    • Mauired

      If Allen is healthy he should be in AA. Nothing left to prove at Dayton. And Chattanooga literally has nothing in his way. Their lineup is so bad.

  7. MK

    Jared Lyons is making quite an argument to be listed as a real prospect. In that regard he reminds me a lot of Carson Spiers, at least from a performance standpoint.