Cincinnati Reds bring in another non-roster invitee reliever

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Reds signed right-hander reliever Ben Rowen to a minor league deal.

Ben Rowen is a long shot to make the Cincinnati Reds roster out of spring training.  He hasn’t been in the majors in two years.  Now he is trying to make it back.

The Texas Rangers drafted Rowen out of Virginia Tech in the 2010 draft.  He was a 22nd round selection.  He pitched 21 games in relief in Short-A ball the year he was drafted.

Rowen made his MLB debut with the Texas Rangers in 2014.  He only pitched in eight games for the Rangers.  His WHIP was an impressively high 1.62.

Following the 2014 season, Rowen left Texas for the Baltimore Orioles’ organization.  Unfortunately, Rowen bounced around, playing for three different organizations in 2015.

Rowen ended the 2015 season and began the 2016 season with the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization.  He ended the season in the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization, returning to the majors for four games.  He did not fare well.

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Rowen spent last season playing in Triple-A Las Vegas for the New York Mets.  He is a career reliever, making all 324 appearances out of the bullpen.  Rowen was initially seen as  a future MLB closer, but was slowly moved into low leverage roles as his advancements continued.

Ben Rowen has an uphill battle to make the roster for the Cincinnati Reds this spring.

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Rowen averages nearly 1.5 innings per appearance over the course of his minor league career.  That is a good number for today’s pitchers.  There is a shortage of true middle relievers.

Unfortunately, earlier this off-season the Reds signed a pair of veteran relievers in David Hernandez and Jared Hughes.  That sets the bullpen size at five already, assuming Michael Lorenzen doesn’t end up in the rotation.  The competition is still fierce, though.

The Reds have four relievers and six starting pitchers on the roster already that want to earn a role with the Reds.for the beginning of the season.  Then there are the other non-roster invitees.  Vance Worley is the headliner, but there are another half dozen pitchers that are as good as Rowen.

There is one thing that gives Rowen hope in this journey.  Unlike the rest of his competition, he can control his WHIP.  His career minor league WHIP is 1.08 and is considered elite.

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Rowen, though, faces a difficult journey.  He is essentially organizational depth.  Then again, that is what the outlook for Kevin Shackelford was at this time last year, too.