MLB Team News & Rumors: Cincinnati

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Cincinnati Reds

Our expert from,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.

Cincinnati Reds Team Projection

When you look at the team pitching statistics from the 2013 MLB season, the Cincinnati Reds show up quite a bit near the top of the list.

1. SP Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto fantasy baseball

Cueto struggled with the same injury 3 times last season. He strained his oblique in mid April, which cost him 5 weeks of the season. After 3 starts, he blew it out again for 2 more weeks. Three starts later, he was done for another 2 and 1/2 months. Johnny finished the year with a strong ERA (2.82) for the 3rd straight season. His walk rate (2.7) was in line with his career resume and his K rate (7.6) was his highest since his rookie season. Cueto allowed 1 run or less in 8 of his 11 starts and only had one bad outing (12 base runners and 7 runs in 4.1 innings). However, his AFB (92.5) was a career low. He threw a cutter as his #2 pitch, which is a change in his skill set from 2012. His changeup is a close 3rd, followed by a solid slider. Johnny was dominant against both RH (.213) and LH (.204) batters. Cueto is a nice major league arm, but he hasn't popped in the K department, so he tends to be undervalued. He tried to change his motion to help alleviate the strain on his lat muscles. Cueto has pitched over 30 starts 4 times during his 6 year career, but has only pitched over 200 innings once. He has upside in wins, ERA, and WHIP and his stuff is strong enough where he could step forward with his strikeouts. If he has no problems in spring training, he will be an upside SP3 in 2014.

2. SP Mat Latos

Mat Latos fantasy baseball

Latos has been very good over the last 4 seasons, but he is the type pitcher that a fantasy player really doesn't fight for on draft day. Don't get me wrong; he is going to be drafted as a top 30 pitcher. His value just isn't high enough to be a fantasy ace. Last year, he had very good command (2.5) with a solid K rate (8.0). His first pitch strike % (64%) is moving into an elite area. He allowed 2 runs or less in 18 of his 32 starts and only allowed more than 5 runs twice all season. Mat had the same success against both RH (.246) and LH (.247) batters. For some reason, his K rate dropped to 4.3 in September as he was battling bone chips in his right elbow (required surgery in October). His AFB (92.6) was in line with his last 2 seasons. His slider is his #2 pitch, followed by a curveball and a show me changeup. Batters hit .127 against his curveball and .182 against his slider, but his fastball was hittable (.288). He has done a nice job of getting more ground balls over the last 2 seasons (45.1%), which helped him keep the HR's under control in 2013 (HR/FB rate (6.9%). The drop in K rate late in the year bothers me a bit, especially with an elbow issue, but his velocity was stronger in September. It almost looks like he was overthrowing his slider, curveball, and changeup. Latos also pitched well at home (9-2 with 2.77 ERA). He is a solid SP2 with an improving skill set, but his K rate can't really jump without a better off speed pitch. Possible 15+ wins with 200 K upside.

3. SP Homer Bailey

Homer Bailey fantasy baseball

I've kicked Bailey around over the last couple of years and his ticket finally came in 2013. His walk rate (2.3) was identical to his previous 2 seasons, while his K rate (8.6) jumped to a career high. Homer was dominant against RH batters (.205), but he has some work to due against lefties (.264 with 11 HR's - .421 SLG %). His K rate was over 9.0 for the first 4 months of the season, but it faded in August (7.6) and September (7.4). Bailey had an ERA of 3.11 over his last 17 starts of the year. He appeared to wear down over his last 3 starts, walking 12 batters in 17.7 innings. His AFB (94.1) had a jump in velocity (92.5 in 2012), while his slider is still his #2 pitch (followed by an improving split-finger fastball and a solid curveball). His GB rate (46.1%) is rising. Batters had a tough time hitting all of his pitches (four seam fastball - .229, sinker - .236, slider - .230, curveball - .231, and split - .246). Furthermore, all of his pitches gained value in 2013, expect his slider. Overall, Bailey has an exciting arm, but I'm not sure if his velocity is repeatable. Homer's fastball was about 1.5 mph less from 2010 to 2012. He has pitched over 200 innings in back to back years, but struggled to stay healthy over the previous 3 seasons. I like the direction of his skill set, but I really need to see him throwing 95 in spring training. I think he has higher upside than Latos and could have a sub 3.00 ERA with some growth against lefties.

4. SP Tony Cingrani

Tony Cingrani fantasy baseball

Cingrani was a great fill in for Johnny Cueto last season. He handled himself in the majors, but he did struggle with HR's early in the year (7 in his first 6 starts - 33 innings). Tony was electric over his first 3 starts (1.50 ERA with 28 K's in 18 innings) and in July (2.08 ERA with 33 K's in 30.3 innings). Overall, Cingrani allowed 2 runs or less in 14 of his 18 starts. He missed time late in the year due to a lower back injury. Tony was dominant against both RH (.200) and LH (.186) batters, but he allowed 36 of his 42 walks to righties. His K rate (10.3) was elite, but his walk rate (3.7) still needs a lot of work. Cingrani's AFB was 91.9, throwing it 81.5% of the time. He threw his changeup as his #2 pitch, but opposing batters hit .308 against it. Batters only had 1 hit in 28 at bats against his slider and curveball. Tony lived on his four seam fastball (batters hit .208 against it) in 2013. His scouting report suggests his changeup has upside. Cingrani was 16-6 during his minor league career with a 1.65 ERA and 301 K's in 228.7 innings. He had better command (2.7) and a higher K rate (11.8). Tony was dominant in his 6 starts at AAA in 2013 (1.15 ERA with 49 K's in 31.3 innings). Cingrani has elite upside, especially when he develops his secondary pitches. Last year, he threw 135 innings, so he should be good for 180 this season. Future ace with 200 K upside in 2014.

5. SP Mike Leake

Mike Leake fantasy baseball

Leake was much better in 2013, but his skill set didn't really change that much. His K rate (5.7) and walk rate (2.2) both declined slightly, and he threw less first pitch strikes (59%). Mike had the same success against RH (.263) and LH (.263) batters, and allowed 2 runs or less in 17 of his 31 starts. His ERA (2.59) was in an elite area after his first 21 starts, but he pitched poorly over 5 starts in August and his 1st start in September (7.21 ERA with 55 base runners allowed in 33.7 innings). Leake continues to be a GB pitcher (48.7%). His AFB (90.2) was a career high. Additionally, his cutter is his #2 pitch, followed by an improving curveball, a slider and a changeup. Mike still struggles at home (4.00 ERA with 15 HR's allowed in 90 innings). Leake doesn't have an elite arm, but he is a very good pitcher with limited upside in K's. He works both sides of the plate and will have success when he keeps the ball down. When he develops better command in the strike zone with his fastball, Leake will offer a little more upside in K's. Possible 15-win season with below average K's.

6. SP Robert Stephenson

Robert Stephenson fantasy baseball

Stephenson is a fast moving prospect in the Reds system. His fastball has gained velocity where it now ranges in the mid 90's with triple digit upside. His changeup is still developing and it could be a plus pitch down the road. The same goes for his curveball. Robert is 10-11 during his minor league career with a 3.06 ERA and 208 K's in 179.3 innings. He did struggle in his 4 starts at AA (4.86 ERA) due to a poor walk rate (7.0). Overall, his command (2.9) still needs some work, while he has a plus K rate (10.4). Stephenson should start the year at AA and may move quickly to AAA. The Reds starting rotation is pretty solid, so he'll need an injury to have any value in 2014. Last year, he only pitched 114.3 innings, so he'll probably be limited to 150 to 160 innings this year.

7. SP Daniel Corcino

Daniel Corcino fantasy baseball

Corcino did a face plant at AAA in 2013 after showing upside at A ball in 2011 (3.42 ERA with 156 K's in 139.3 innings). He has struggled with his command (3.9) for most of his career and it was exposed at AAA in 2013 (5.1 walk rate). This led to the lowest K rate (6.3) of his minor league career. He has a low 90's fastball and a slider with upside. His changeup also has a chance to be a plus pitch, but his lack of command may lead to him being a bullpen arm down the road. His window as a starter may close if he struggles at AAA again in 2014.

8. CL Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman fantasy baseball

Simply put, Chapman has an electric arm. He had growth in his first pitch strike % (59%) and overall strike % (65%), but his walk rate (4.1) regressed from 2012. Aroldis owns lefties (.137 with no extra base hits in 51 at bats) and he dominates righties (.172). He did allow 7 HR's to RH batters, and issued 24 of his 29 walks to righties. His K rate (15.8) is just staggering. His AFB (98.3) was stronger than 2012 (97.7), which he threw 85.4% of the time. His only other pitch is a slider. Aroldis has frightening upside if he could ever pitch 75+ innings. He basically is a backend starter earning saves. The Reds have solid starting pitching with a offense that really isn't explosive, so Chapman has 45+ save upside. A fantasy player may decide he has more value than a SP2. I can just imagine how good he would be with a plus changeup. Aroldis is a top option at closer again in 2014.

9. RP J.J. Hoover

J.J. Hoover fantasy baseball

Hoover gave the Reds a nice season after Broxton went down last season. His walk rate (3.5) is too high, but his minor league resume (2.7) shows more upside. His K rate (9.1) was a step down from his minor league career (9.9). J.J. has a career 2.98 ERA with 480 K's in 438 innings during his minor league career. His AFV was also 92.8. He throws a curveball as his #2 pitch, followed by a low level changeup and slider. Overall, he has been a FB pitcher (47.9%) and has more value against LH pitching (.163 - .239 SLG %). He allowed 5 of his 6 HR's and 19 of his 26 walks to RH batters. After the All Star break, J.J. had a 1.67 ERA with 24 K's in 27 innings. He has only 16 saves on his minor league resume, but he looks like the next man in line if Chapman has an issue.

10. RP Sean Marshall

Sean Marshall fantasy baseball

Marshall struggled with a shoulder issue for most of the 2013 season, which limited him to 16 games. His AFB (88.9) was down almost 2 mph from his previous season. His #1 pitch is a curveball, followed by a solid slider. Sean has been a quality reliever over the previous 3 seasons (2.45 ERA) with some closing experience (15 SV's). His shoulder injury is strange and he didn't have surgery to repair it, so he may have risk early in the season. If he returns to top form, Marshall will have a chance to close when Chapman needs a day off.


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