On Saturday afternoon the Cincinnati Reds signed left handed reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith to a minor league contract. The lefty has thrown just 7.1 innings in the big leagues since the 2010 season ended, all coming this past April with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In that brief stint with Arizona he posted a 4.91 ERA over those 7.1 innings with four walks (one was of the intentional variety) and nine strikeouts.
He has spent almost all of the last four seasons in the minor leagues. Over the last two years he has posted an ERA of 2.31 in 66.1 innings for Triple-A teams in the Boston and Toronto systems. In those 66.1 innings he has allowed just 47 hits, 18 walks and has had 56 strikeouts. The results have been quite good overall.
In the big leagues, teams are always looking for a LOOGY to bring out of the bullpen to get out left handers. Since the start of the 2012 season, here is how the Australian reliever has performed against left handed batters between Triple-A and the Major Leagues:
While it needs to be noted that a majority of this did come against Triple-A lefties rather than Major League lefties, he has been dominant against them. They haven’t hit for an average against him. They aren’t drawing walks against him. They aren’t hitting for power against him. They are striking out at a relatively high rate against him. That sounds exactly like what you want from a lefty reliever.
Rowland-Smith will very likely begin his time with the organization in Triple-A Louisville, but with good performance down there he may be called upon to fill out a LOOGY role for the big league club by the end of the season.