Could Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson work his magic with this college hurler?

Florida pitcher Brandon Sproat (8) throws out a pitch.
Florida pitcher Brandon Sproat (8) throws out a pitch. / Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

As we enter Day 2 of the 2022 MLB Draft, it'll be interesting to see the Cincinnati Reds strategy as they make their selections in Rounds 3-10. One player who might catch Cincinnati's eye would be Florida right-hander Brandon Sproat.

According to MLB Pipeline, Sproat ranks 117th out of all draft eligible prospects. During his time with Team USA Baseball, Sproat had a fastball that averaged over 97 mph and the 21-year-old was topping out at 100 mph.

So why didn't Sproat go in Round 1 or at least Round 2 on Sunday night? It sounds as though Sproat's command is a big question mark. Sproat walked 33 batters in less than 90 innings of work for the Gators in 2022. That equates to 3.3 BB/9, but that number is down quite a bit from his 6.2 BB/9 in 2021.

Could Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson straighten out Brandon Sproat?

In his three seasons at the University of Florida, Brandon Sproat owned a 3.91 ERA and 1.415 WHIP. Those numbers aren't the most encouraging, but on pure stuff, Sproat the ability to go in Round 1. Are these issues something that Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson could help straighten out?

Johnson is well-regarded throughout baseball for finding a way to get the very best out of his pitchers. Johnson typically takes the approach of what a player does well and finds a way to get them to do that to the best of their ability.

A pitcher like Sproat has all the raw tools necessary to be a backend starter or an effective reliever. To be honest, it sounds very similar to current Reds pitching prospect Joe Boyle. The Notre Dame alum came in with concerns about command and control and Boyle has turned into one of the best pitching prospects in the Reds farm system.

Boyle was wild in college too. During the pandemic-abbreviated 2020 season, Boyle appeared in just six games but walked 13 batters in 8.1 innings of work. While Boyle is still trying to get those free passes under control, the right-hander has done a great job going from a pure thrower to a more refined pitcher.

Perhaps Derek Johnson and the Cincinnati Reds coaching staff could work similar magic with Brandon Sproat. On his talent allow, Sproat should have been a Day 1 pick. If a team feels they have the means to reshape him into all that he can be, Sproat could have success in the big leagues. Are the Reds that team?

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