Tomorrow’s Cactus League opener will feature Brandon Williamson on the mound for the Cincinnati Reds, with what’s left of Bally Sports set to televise the game beginning at 3:05 PM ET. Of course, when Williamson toes the rubber, he’ll be doing so on a pitch clock, something all big league pitchers will be tasked with adapting to on the fly in the run-up to Opening Day.
As it turns out, that’s something that could force a few members of the Reds pitching staff to put the pedal to the metal a bit quicker than they’re used to. Over at FanGraphs, Jay Jaffe made note of some of the slower workers by situation from the 2022 season, with Kenley Jansen the focal point. However, both Hunter Strickland and Tony Santillan showed up on Jaffe’s lists, meaning both will likely find themselves being tasked with getting through their pre-pitch routines in a quicker fashion than they did last season, something that may well have ramifications on the effectiveness of how they pitch.
[insert joke about how it couldn’t really make them worse than last year]
Also at FanGraphs comes the ZiPS Top 100 prospects for the 2023 season from old blog friend Dan Szymborski (hi, Dan!), as his projections have been sorted to rank the prospects from a purely systematic, analytical perspective. And, for the Reds, there’s good news! Noelvi Marte ranked just behind Elly De La Cruz among the Top 20 overall, Matt McLain jumped all the way up to #31, and the seven players the Reds had ranked among the Top 100 was the third most of any club. The eleven they had ranked among the Top 200 ranked tied for third, too, so at least ZiPS is pretty firmly on-board what the Reds are up to at this juncture of their rebuild.
Feel free to compare that to FanGraphs Top 100 ranked by scouting information, which is decidedly lower on a lot of the guys on whom ZiPS is quite high.
In other, non-FanGraphs news, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon spoke with Nick Senzel about his most recent injury rehab, as well as the new swing he’s embracing at a time in his career much different than when he was last presented with that idea. I don’t think I’m exaggerating by saying that the 2023 season is likely Senzel’s last chance to prove he can be an everyday big leaguer given his injuries, underperformance, and escalating salary, and he’ll have to get a good start to stake that claim given the other outfielders the Reds have brought in to look at, too. Add-in that he’ll be tasked with doing that while a) coming off another surgery and b) while getting a late start to spring camp because of said rehab and, well, he’s already facing a steep, uphill battle to making good on that chance. I’ll be crossing my fingers, toes, and eyes for good luck there, of course.
Doug Gray has the complete list of players in Reds minor league camp this spring (for now) over at RedsMinorLeagues.com. There’s an Elkyn, a Yerlin, Dennis “Ship Dude” Boatman, a rare Jackson Miller sighting, and decidedly fewer Taylors and Tylers than in seasons past.
Finally, there’s Jayson Stark from The Athletic on MLB’s return to cracking down on ‘sticky’ substances used by pitchers in the game today. Not that they ever were really not cracking down on it, it’s just that it’ll be a return to a point of emphasis, something that will be very, very interesting to watch for a Reds club that has seemingly moved away from the Spincinnati days we saw just a few seasons ago.