3 Reds players who still haven't earned a roster spot

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Ryan Hendrix (68) delivers a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Ryan Hendrix (68) delivers a pitch. / Kareem Elgazzar via Imagn Content
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Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Riley O'Brien (57) delivers a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Riley O'Brien (57) delivers a pitch. / Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

2. Riley O'Brien, Reds pitcher

Like Ryan Hendrix, I think the Reds brass expected more out of Riley O'Brien in 2021. Not so much at the major league level, but he never really excelled at Triple-A Louisville.

It's unfair to judge O'Brien on his first and only major league start, a game that he was thrust into because of an injury to Wade Miley. O'Brien, pitching just 1.1 innings, walked two batters, struck out two batters, and allowed two gopher balls.

But it's not as if O'Brien had a terrific season with the Louisville Bats. The right-hander appeared in 23 games including 22 starts and posted a 4.55 ERA over 112.2 innings of work. O'Brien struck out 121 batters while walking 55.

The 24.7% strikeout-rate is impressive, but the 11.2% walk-rate is not. O'Brien is known as a strike thrower, but he was still erratic this season; unable to control and command his pitches.

Like Hendrix, O'Brien will be 27 years old prior to the start of the 2022 season. It's doubtful that O'Brien sniffs an opportunity to start, but the former Tampa Bay Rays' prospect could find a home in the bullpen.

The Reds bullpen was a train wreck last season, so it's more likely that the team will give O'Brien an opportunity to latch on as a reliever rather than just let him go. Still, there's no way O'Brien can be confident that he has an assured spot on the Reds roster heading into the offseason.