As spring training drew towards a close in Goodyear, many in Reds Country had their hopes pinned on rookie southpaw Brandon Williamson claiming one of the spots at the backend of the starting rotation.
Even though Williamson fell short in his bid to make the Cincinnati Reds Opening Roster, there's no doubt we'll see him in the major leagues in the near future. However, there's another rookie hurler who may make his Queen City debut before the lefty.
Levi Stoudt, 25, was impressive in his first spring as a member of the Reds organization. Acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the Luis Castillo deal, Stoudt looked the part of a major league contributor in two of his three exhibition outings with the big league club.
Levi Stoudt will make his MLB debut debut before Brandon Williamson.
Through his first two appearances, Levi Stoudt allowed one run in three innings while punching out an impressive six opposing hitters. Despite getting shellacked by the Chicago Cubs in his final outing, the right-hander concluded the big league portion of his spring training with 8 K's while issuing only one free pass in 4.2 frames.
Hopefully, the K/BB rate Stoudt compiled in Spring training is a sign of things to come. To this point in his career, consistently throwing strikes has been the biggest issue for the former third-round selection.
Tossing 192.2 innings in the minors, Stoudt has averaged 3.2 walks per nine frames to go along with 8.8 strikeouts. An encouraging sign is the Lehigh University alum failed to allow a round-tripper in 24 innings once he joined the Cincinnati organization to close out last year's campaign. Needless to say, the ability to keep the ball in the yard is paramount when pitching at Great American Ball Park.
However, it's the ability to throw strikes that will determine Stoudt's future and at this juncture in their young careers, this is the area where he holds a distinct advantage over Brandon Williamson. Making 27 starts between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville last season, Williamson walked nearly six batters per nine innings. Obviously, that won't work at the MLB level.
Every franchise desires an effective left-hander in their rotation, and the Reds' brass gave Williamson every opportunity to claim a spot this spring. However, the safest bet is going with the guy who throws more strikes, and, to this point, Levi Stoudt is that guy.