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Cincinnati Reds sign reliever Robbie Ross to minor league contract

The former Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox reliever will compete in camp.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds have reportedly signed lefty reliever Robbie Ross, as multiple outlets have reported. He’s a native of Reds country, mind you, a product of Lexington, Kentucky - a city that has certainly never, ever produced anyone else of quality repute. Ross, 29, is a former 2nd round pick out of Lexington Christian Academy, and he burst onto the scene in 2012 for the Texas Rangers by posting 65 innings of 198 ERA+ ball, at the time managing to induce a 62.4% groundball rate that helped offset his otherwise pedestrian strikeout rate.

Of course, it’s been a bit tougher road for Ross since then, as he’s battled elbow issues and pitched just 9 total big league innings since the start of the 2017 season. In fact, he owns just a 4.74 ERA and 90 ERA+ dating back to the start of the 2014 season, as he struggled to reproduce the excellent groundball rate from his excellent first season.

Perhaps his elbow issues helped contribute to his change in pitching style, though it very well could be the case that the latter contributed to the former. In 2012, he leaned on his low 90’s fastball a whopping 82.1% of the time, mixing in only a slider as a secondary offering. By the time he was taking the mound in limited action in 2017, though, he’d not only picked up a slow curve (9.8% of his pitches), but also leaned on his slider 32.5% of the time. He even used a change-up for a time in 2013-2014, but has abandoned using that in big league action since then.

Of course, as a lefty, he’ll continue to get chances to show he’s healthy, as he does certainly have a track record of success when that’s the case. He’ll have a good bit of competition in front of him in Reds camp, though, as the club just signed Zach Duke to a big league contract, and he is joined on the 40-man roster by the likes of Amir Garrett, Wandy Peralta, Cody Reed, and Brandon Finnegan, all of whom will be in the mix for relief roles as the club sets its Opening Day roster. On top of that, both Buddy Boshers and Ian Krol are lefty non-roster invitees in camp.