Die hard Reds fans and prospect nerds have known about Michael Lorenzen for a while now. The former 38th overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Cal State Fullerton has only impressed since joining the Reds organization. Most impressive is his high 90's fastball (clocked at 98 this spring) and a plus slider/curve/slurvy kind of thing. Lorenzen has also grabbed significant attention with his work ethic and general demeanor on and off the field. Obviously, Lorenzen has piqued the interest of his manager, Bryan Price. If you'd like, you can read what Price and Lorenzen have to say about the whole situation about Michael joining the Red's bullpen.
Michael Lorenzen is 23 years old and the world is his oyster. He has a ton of talent and ability, and as it stands right now he is looking at a prominent Major League career. In most circles Lorenzen has been rated as a top five Reds' prospect and as high as third. The Reds drafted and have developed Lorezen as a starter, as per their strategy of converting top college relievers into starting pitchers. What Lorenzen has is a world of talent. What he doesn't have is much experience.
Lorenzen was a full time center fielder in college who would come in from the outfield in the 9th inning and close the games. He was about as raw as you can get as a pitcher when he was drafted. Despite his inexperience the Reds didn't use the kid gloves when developing him, pushing him to AA his first season and then letting him pitch 120 innings at the same level in 2014. They were a very good 120 innings, by the way.
The prospect of Lorenzen breaking camp with the Reds is exciting It's exciting for Michael Lorenzen, the Reds, and the fans. It's exciting for me because I want to see him pitch live. Whenever you are adding a 98 MPH arm to the club there is obvious buzz to that. However, if Lorenzen makes the club it will most likely be in the bullpen with DeSclafani and Cingrani predicted to win the #4 and #5 spots and Marquis, Maholm, and Holmberg knocking on the door. That's not the worst thing ever, but is it the right thing for Lorenzen's development?
Plenty of starting pitchers have spent time in the bullpen while working to be starting pitchers. Players such as Roy Oswalt, Johan Santana, Andrew Cashner, Francisco Liriano, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Gio Gonzalez, yada yada, etc, etc. Now, I don't know exactly what the Reds have planned for Lorenzen in the bullpen, but a starting prospect usually finds himself in the bullpen for few reasons.
- Starting the season to keep innings low.
- Ending the season to anchor a bullpen during a playoff run and to keep innings low
- Control problems, stuff, or a combination of things keeping them from being an effective starter.
- There is a hole in the bullpen and the parent club is desperate.