The Cincinnati Reds finalized their trade with the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday by acquiring pitching prospect Connor Phillips. The right-hander is a former second-round pick. The latest acquisition to the Reds organization seems to follow a certain trend that's emerging in the Cincinnati's farm system.
The Reds are looking for power arms. Phillips fits that mold. Cincinnati's newest addition has an electric arm and can hit the upper-90s on the radar gun. That sounds eerily similar to Chase Petty, the pitching prospect Cincinnati acquired in the trade for Sonny Gray.
The Reds appear to have a 'type' after acquiring RHP Connor Phillips.
Brandon Williamson has a similar profile himself. Another one of the prospects obtained in the deal with the Mariners, Williamson differs a little bit from his former TCU teammate Nick Lodolo in that the former Seattle prospect can hit 96-MPH if he really rears back. Lodolo typically sits in the low-to-mid 90s.
Let's not forget about Cincinnati's top pitching prospect Hunter Greene. The former first-round pick is likely to make his major league debut in a couple weeks and his heater sits in the upper-90s with the potential to hit over 100-MPH on a regular basis.
There's also Graham Ashcraft. The Alabama native was part of major league camp until recently. Ashcraft's fastball is the 24-year-old's bread 'n butter. While the right-hander doesn't consistently hit triple-digits as often as Greene, Ashcraft sits in the upper-90s on a routine basis.
According to MLB Pipeline, Phillips, now rated as the 14th-best prospect in the Cincinnati Reds farm system, is the "classic high-risk, high-upside arm that leaves some scouts marveling and others uncertain." FanGraphs refers to Phillips as a 'grip it and rip it" type of pitcher.
Players like Greene, Ashcraft, and the recently acquired Phillips certainly come with what scouts call "reliever risk". That means a pitcher may lack something (control, command, a third offering, etc.) that keeps them from reaching their ceiling as a starter, and invariably leads to the pitcher becoming a reliever.
We've seen that in the past with pitchers like Michael Lorenzen, Lucas Sims, Amir Garrett, and Raisel Iglesias. More recently, Tony Santillan has transitioned from starter to reliever. But, when today's game is so focused on matchups, it's rare when we see a pitcher go more than six innings, and it puts more emphasis than ever on having skilled relievers in the bullpen.
The recently drafted Bryce Bonnin and Joe Boyle, both taken in the 2020 MLB Draft, fit the mold as well. Bonnin owned a 38.6% strikeout-rate in the minors last season, while Boyle's 50.6% K-rate is ridiculous. The Cincinnati Reds seem to have a particular type of pitcher they're looking for, and it could benefit the organization greatly down the road.