Reds pitching prospect watches 3 balls leave the yard in Triple-A debut

Connor Phillips has yet to make his Triple-A debut, but this Reds pitching prospect was treated very rudely in his first start for the Louisville Bats.
A detailed view of the Cincinnati Reds jersey
A detailed view of the Cincinnati Reds jersey / Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

All the hype surrounding Cincinnati Reds top pitching prospect Connor Phillips is justified. The former Seattle Mariners farmhand was promoted to Triple-A this week, but has yet to make his debut for the Louisville Bats.

Christian Roa, however, made his first start at Triple-A and it didn't go so well. The former second-round pick was lit up in Thursday's game against the Indianapolis Indians.

Roa couldn't make it out of the third inning before surrendering eight earned runs on nine hits, three of which were home runs. The right-hander exited after just 2.2 innings of work and recorded just one strikeout along the way.

Reds pitching prospect Christian Roa watches 3 balls leave the yard in Triple-A debut.

Christian Roa was part of the shortened 2020 MLB Draft. The former Texas A&M hurler was taken with the 48th-overall pick, but has never really lived up to the hype. Roa, however, does have a four-pitch mix and has finally begun to see his potential emerge with a solid showing at Double-A Chattanooga.

Roa put up career-best numbers with the Lookouts earlier this season, which earned him a promotion to Triple-A earlier this week. Roa posted a career-high 33.7-percent strikeout-rate according to FranGraphs with 87 punch outs in 59 innings of work.

But free passes have crippled Roa this season. Before making the leap to Triple-A, Roa owned a 17.1-percent walk-rate at Double-A and a career-worst 6.71 walks per nine innings pitched. But with so little pitching depth at Triple-A and Roa now 24 years old, the time was right for Cincinnati to see what they have in the young pitcher.

Seeing as how Christian Roa possesses four different pitches (fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup), the Cincinnati Reds will likely continue to run out the right-hander every fifth day as a starter, though a bullpen role may be ultimate destination should he make it to the big leagues.

The experimentation with the new "enhanced grip" baseballs in the Southern League, according to Baseball America, has seen an increase in strikeouts and walks at the Double-A level. That may a big reason for Roa's inflated stats, and an adjustment to the balls used at Triple-A may see his numbers return to the mean.

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