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Cincinnati Reds sign five undrafted free agents (so far)

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A handful of new farmhands for whenever baseball is actually played again.

NCAA BASEBALL: JUN 02 Vanderbilt v Clemson Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After the newfangled MLB Draft produced just six draftees for the Cincinnati Reds, it was clear there would be something of a free for all in the period where undrafted free agents were allowed to be signed. That period began on Sunday, and to date MLB.com has knowledge that at least 24 clubs have signed at least one, with the Reds apparently inking five so far.

We referenced a pair of them yesterday - Princeton RHP James Proctor and Florida Atlantic infielder Francisco Urbaez - but figured today we’d give you the skinny on each of the handful of new Reds farmhands.

James Proctor - RHP, Princeton University

Proctor logged just 9 IP in the abbreviated 2020 season, and pitched in just 25 total games in his collegiate career. In those, he went just 2-14 with a 6.29 ERA in 120.2 IP, walking 76 batters in that time. You don’t need me to tell you that part isn’t shiny.

That said, beginning with his junior year, he found his strikeout stuff in a big, big way, and that’s surely what caught the Reds eye. In 51.1 IP between his junior and senior seasons, he fanned 73 opponents, and while control issues still plagued him (32 BB in that time), he showed the kind of swing and miss stuff that, with some refinement, could be a thing.

He’s listed at 6’5” and, depending upon which scouting report you trust, weighs anywhere from 205 to 230 lbs, so he’s certainly got a projectible frame. As Princeton Baseball noted on Twitter, his grandfather Jim played professionally for both the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League and in 1959 for the Detroit Tigers.

Carson Spiers - RHP, Clemson University

Spiers, on the other hand, came out blisteringly hot in the 2020 season before it was halted. He allowed nary an earned run in 9 relief appearances, with a rock solid 17/3 K/BB in 15.1 IP. Across his four seasons with Clemson, he pitched to a tidy 2.87 ERA in 62 appearances (94.0 IP), striking out just under a batter per IP in that time.

The righty served as Clemson’s closer, and is the latest in a long line of Spiers who’ve made their mark on Clemson baseball - his father and grandfather both starred for the Tigers while his uncle, Bill, was a 1st round pick out of Clemson who spent 13 years in the big leagues.

He’s listed as large as 6’3” and 205 lbs, depending on your source, and has a fastball that sits 93-94 mph for now. Apparently his change-up is a “pure out pitch,” according to Clemson coach Monte Lee.

Leo Nierenberg - RHP, University of Washington

Nierenberg managed just 2.2 IP in 2020 before the season was banged, though he didn’t allow a run in that very short time. That wrapped a four year career with the Huskies that saw him appear in 60 games (5 starts, all as a freshman), pitching to a 5.84 ERA in 80.1 IP.

With apologies for sounding like a broken record, it’s not those stats that got him signed, it’s his ability to strike dudes out. He fanned 90 in those 80.1 IP, with 37 of those in 27.1 IP between his junior and senior years, though control wasn’t exactly his calling card, either (14 BB in that 27.1 IP sample).

A former member of U17 USA National Development team, his fastball only sits at 90 mph, but as you can see in this Prospect Pipeline video, he’s got a slider that has a chance to be rather filthy. At just 6’0” and 190 lbs, it’s that slider that he’s going to need to lean on, though it certainly looks like it’s got potential.

Braxton Roxby - RHP, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Pitt-Johnstown competes at the Division II level, so I’ll admit that I’m wholly unfamiliar with the Mountain Cats. That said, Roxby made a name for himself just as much with solid Cape Cod League play in 2019 than he did in Johnstown, as Pitt-Johnstown coach Todd Williams admitted, and is far from the first small-school player to do so - heck, that helped vault Phil Ervin from Samford into the 1st round at one point, too.

The 6’3” 225 lb righty can hum his fastball into the mid 90s, but again - control issues. Apparently those were held largely in check in Cape Cod play, but with Pitt-Johnstown he walked 67 in 88.2 IP across three seasons. Of course, he managed to fan 105 in that span, too, so there’s [insert same plan to hone and refine his delivery just like the other arms listed above].

Francisco Urbaez - IF, Florida Atlantic University

Urbaez, as we noted in yesterday’s reposter, shined for a pair of years at Chipola College on the JC circuit before transferring to FAU, and the void he left in the Chipola infield was filled by George transfer Ivan Johnson, who shined well enough there to be drafted by the Reds in the 4th round last year.

In two seasons with FAU, Urbaez was quite impressive at the plate, walking 45 times against just 38 Ks while hitting .315/.426/.500 in 357 PA. Primarily a 2B, he’s gotten a handful of innings at SS, too.

The 5’11” native of the Dominican Republic hits from the right side of the plate, and served almost exclusively as FAU’s leadoff man in his tenure there.