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The Red Report - Anthony DeSclafani

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The 26-year-old right-hander has positioned himself for a lengthy career as a mid-rotation starter in the majors, but could he have a higher ceiling than that?

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Fast Facts:

Anthony James DeSclafani was born on April 18, 1990 in Freehold, New Jersey. He is a right-handed pitcher and hitter, and stands 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. He was drafted in the 22nd round out of high school by the Boston Red Sox in 2008, but opted to attend the University of Florida. The Toronto Blue Jays then selected DeSclafani in the sixth round of the 2011 draft before trading him to the Miami Marlins in an 11-player deal that included other notable names such as Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Adeiny Hechavarria and Yunel Escobar. The Reds acquired him from the Marlins on Dec. 11, 2014 along with Chad Wallach in exchange for Mat Latos.

In 2015, he led all NL rookie pitchers in fWAR (3.1), and would have been on pace for a similar figure in 2016 had lingering oblique issues not limited him to just 20 starts. A healthy DeSclafani would project to be the Opening Day starter in 2017.

Contract Status

Pre-Arb Eligible. Will be arbitration eligible after the 2017 season, and will be a free agent after the 2020 season.

Career Stats

Scouting

Desclafani sits in the low 90’s but can work up to around 95mph every once in a while. His strength is in his off-speed stuff, of which he has three offerings in his curveball, changeup and slider, all of which are at least average and can be thrown for strikes when he’s on.

2017 Projections

All of these projections give DeSclafani a bit of an uptick in ERA, likely due to his career-high 3.96 FIP that accompanied his 3.28 ERA in 2016. Outside of the ERA, though, the rest of these numbers place his K/9 and BB/9 ratios just about in line with his career averages, and as we saw last year, those can make for a hell of a year if he can limit the long ball.

Pitch F/X Profile

As Aaron pointed out in his DeSclafani report last year, the righty really gained an extra dimension to his game in 2015 when he started mixing in his curveball. He continued down that path in 2016, using the curve on a fairly consistent basis to help the slider he’s always had success with gain an extra advantage. As his year went on, he also split his fastball between his four-seam and sinker at a ratio closer to 50/50 than the sinker-heavy game relied on early on.

As Disco enters his prime years, it seems like we’re starting to see the pitcher he truly is crystallize. Since he arrived in Cincinnati, he’s always been a guy who can rely on himself to hit his spots and keep hitters off balance instead of simply trying to overpower them. With the consistency of his curve taking shape, he’s rounded out his repertoire solidly enough to manage a lengthy career as a major league starter.

Outlook

The immediate future is somewhat in limbo for DeSclafani as he works through some elbow tenderness that caused his first start of the spring to get pushed back, but the hope/expectation around the clubhouse seems to be that he’ll merely need a few extra days of rest before he starts his regular spring workout.

As for his general outlook, Wick did a nice job just last week laying out what one version of DeSclafani’s future might look like.. Trade rumors circulated about DeSclafani a small amount at the trade deadline last summer, and again this offseason, and if he’s enjoying a good season this year while the Reds continue to struggle, his name will almost certainly be mentioned as a trade piece this summer, too. But as he enters his age-27 season, with four more years of team control left including this one, he’s exactly the kind of asset that Reds management could look at as someone to build a pitching staff around.

DeSclafani was never really pegged for a future ace of a winning team’s rotation, but for the 2017 Reds, he should be just what they need to lead the staff into the next chapter of their rebuild. He lacks the overpowering stuff most would like to see in a perennial Opening Day starter, but if he remains healthy, there’s no reason to suspect he won’t be an important cog in the Reds’ rotation for years to come. That being said, if there’s one thing DeSclafani’s done since arriving in Cincinnati, it’s outdo expectations. I’d say there’s a solid chance 2017 shows an even more impressive version of Tony Disco than we’ve ever seen before.