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Red Report 2016 - Caleb Cotham

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The lesser (leastest?) piece of the trade that sent away Aroldis Chapman has the best chance to make an immediate impact.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Fast Facts

Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6' 3", Weight: 215 lb.

Caleb Kent Cotham was born on November 6th, 1987 in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, which is only 17 miles east of Nashville. Cotham attended Mount Juliet High School, where he presumably played baseball with Nationals RHP Taylor Hill, who is the only other person from Mt. Juliet High School to crack the major leagues. So, that MJHS had to have been pretty, pretty solid around that time.

Anyway, Cotham played his college ball down the road at Vanderbilt University for the Fighting Wick's. In his freshman year, the 'Dores won the SEC Championship, and made it the NCAA Regionals every year of his college career.

Cotham was drafted by the Yankees in the 5th round of the 2009 draft. During his first professional year, Cotham suffered an injury that cost him all of 2010. He returned in 2011 to pitch 23 innings, mostly in relief, for the Yankees Rookie and A- teams, before returning to the starting role in 2012.

Cotham had varying degrees of success, but managed to pitch just over 300+ innings from 2010-2014. As he advanced to high levels of minor league competition, he began to fail more and more often, never lowering his ERA below 5.00 during any of his starting stints at AAA. It started to become more and more obvious that a move to the bullpen for Cotham was inevitable.

If there's one thing the Yankees have, though, it's bullpen depth, and complicated with the fact that Caleb was beginning to become "old for a prospect," others started to take priority.

Cotham finally got a break in 2015 and earned his cup of coffee for the Yankees, even being used as the number four option behind the Yankees top three fireballers of Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Justin Wilson.

For the short stint, Cotham went 9.2 innings in 12 games for the 2015 Yankees, finishing with a 6.52 ERA with a similarly inflated 1.552 WHIP, though skewed by a 6 hit, 2 dinger, 4 earned allowed 2 inning clunker in his second ever major league appearance. He also owns a 10.2 K/9 and a mere 0.8 BB/9, suggesting that the stuff just might be there for a move to the 'pen.

Organizational Information

Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 5th round of the 2009 amateur draft.
Signed August 17, 2009.
Debut: July 29, 2015 (Age 27.265, 18,567th in MLB history) vs. TEX 1.2 IP, 2 H, 4 SO, 0 BB, 0 ER
Rookie Status: Still Intact through 2016 
Team: Yankees 2015
2016 Contract Status: Pre-Arb Eligible 
Service Time (01/2016): 0.042, Arb Eligible: 2019, Free Agent: 2022

Transactions

December 28, 2015: Traded by the New York Yankees with Rookie Davis (minors), Eric Jagielo (minors) and Tony Renda (minors) to the Cincinnati Reds for Aroldis Chapman.

Career Statistics

Scouting Report

You know, gifs of Caleb Cotham in action are pretty hard to come by (read: impossible). So, here's one I found while GIS'ing for "Caleb Cotham gifs." (Courtesy of our friends at Pinstripe Alley):

Presumably, that's not Caleb Cotham but, I really don't know sure enough to definitively say that it's not Caleb Cotham, so we'll officially leave it open to interpretation.

Though, I will say that Cotham, without the ginger beard, looks a lot less like your disappointed dad and a lot more like the run of the mill, white guy baseball player that this team is chalk (get it? Chalk is white?) full of this season.

2016 Projections

Season Team W L SV G GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP WAR
2016 Depth Charts 2 2 0 30 0 30.0 8.94 2.75 1.11 .301 74.0 % 3.66 3.78 0.1
2016 Steamer 1 2 0 30 0 30.0 8.15 2.82 1.05 .285 74.1 % 3.64 3.89 0.1
2016 ZiPS 5 4 44 0 53.7 9.73 2.68 1.17 .305 73.8 % 3.69 3.67 0.4


Outlook

It's been a long time coming for Cotham, who will turn 29 just after the 2016 season ends. He wasn't necessarily someone the Reds felt that they had to have, but they were find tacking him on to the end of a quantity trade for their troubled former closer Aroldis Chapman. Ironically, it'll be Cotham that gets the first crack at making the Reds great again, and not Rookie Davis or Eric Jagielo.

Caleb's been much of the same for the 2016 Spring Training Reds, where he's logged almost exactly the same amount of time as he did for the 2015 Yankees. He's striking people out at a rate of 11 per 9, and walking nobody, but is getting hit all over the yard. A problem with this is that, according to Baseball Reference's OppQual Spring Training metric (that is, Opponent Quality based upon the levels these opponents played in the previous season), Cotham's faced the average equivalent of AA batters in his 10 innings this spring.

And he's still getting knocked around.

So, while Cotham's not exactly played his way into the Reds 2016 bullpen... who exactly can say they have? The Reds obviously liked him enough to make him the last bit of the Chapman trade, and at 28 years old, it's probably time to see what the young fella can do. He's not all that far removed from Baseball America saying he had the best control of any minor league pitcher in the Yankees system (2013).

Since then, all he's done is remake himself as a bullpen arm, one that's shown he's more than capable of getting guys to swing and miss. If he can improve upon not getting hit so hard when the guys he's throwing at don't swing and miss, he could be a useful piece to the Reds 'pen in 2016.