Forgotten Reds' flamethrower Joel Kuhnel receives invite to spring training

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Joel Kuhnel (66) delivers a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Joel Kuhnel (66) delivers a pitch. / Sam Greene, Cincinnati Enquirer via

Yesterday, the Cincinnati Reds invited six minor league players to major league camp. Among those selected was right-handed pitcher Joel Kuhnel. The flamethrower fell off radar after failing to find the field in 2021, but Kuhnel, if healthy could be a weapon out of the Cincinnati bullpen.

Let's face it, the bullpen is. certainly not the strength of this 2022 Reds team. Gone are Michael Lorenzen and Mychal Givens. Amir Garrett was a shell of himself last season. And despite the additions of Justin Wilson and Luis Cessa, Cincinnati's relief corps is still a weakness.

Reds RHP Joel Kuhnel can light up the radar gun.

Joel Kuhnel saw some time in the big leagues in both 2019 and the pandemic-shortened season in 2020. Kuhnel was outrighted Triple-A Louisville following the 2020 season and the Bats placed the right-hander on the 60-day injured last May.

Kuhnel was activated in September, sent on a rehab assignment in Arizona, and rejoined his Triple-A teammates shortly before the 2021 season ended. Kuhnel made four appearances out of the bullpen, logging one inning per outing, struck out three, and didn't allow a run.

The 26-year-old is a true hurler in every sense of the word. Joel Kuhnel throws hard and can touch 100-MPH on the radar gun without much effort. He'll mix in a slider as well and put up a 27.4% strikeout-rate in 2019 at Triple-A Louisville.

The Cincinnati Reds would be hard-pressed to find a reliever on their team with better raw power in his right arm than Kuhnel. Given that no one on last year's Reds squad stepped into the role of closer vacated when Cincinnati dealt Raisel Iglesias to Los Angeles, one would assume the job is up for grabs once again this spring.

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Do not sleep on Joel Kuhnel's ability to lock up a spot in the Cincinnati bullpen. The Reds need as many arms this coming spring as they can get. While Kuhnel lost his 40-man roster spot last winter, the right-hander could definitely earn it back with a strong showing in Goodyear.