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Organization changes course with young arms

I think we knew as much, but it's nice to see an article about the pitching changes in the lower levels of the minor leagues:

Pitchers Ty Howington and Chris Gruler were once what Homer Bailey is. They were No. 1 draft picks with potential to be No. 1 starters.

But Howington (No. 1 in '99) and Gruler (No. 1 in '02) have spent more time in injury rehab than on the mound.

The Reds have scrapped the 75-pitch limit for pitchers at Single-A and below - instituted by former general manager Dan O'Brien to help prevent injuries.

"We're going to formulate individual plans for every player," said Johnny Almaraz, the director of player development/international operations. "We'll pull back when a player's fatigued."

Some injuries can't be prevented. But the Reds made mistakes in the cases of Howington and Gruler.

Howington threw 1412/3 innings in 2000 at 18 years old. Gruler was hurt when he was drafted.

Almaraz said the club will use inning limits, depending on age - 100 innings for an 18-year-old, 110 for a 19-year-old, and so on.

"We'll add and subtract, depending on the individual," Almaraz said.

O'Brien really wasn't terribly far off the mark here, but he really just seemed to go about protecting young arms in a really lazy way.  It's tough to make a plan on an individual basis, but it's easy to just issue a 75 pitch count edict for all pitchers under the AA level.