Reds Tony Cingrani Sails to Cincy

With a 1.73 ERA including a 172/58 strikeout-to-walk ratio across two levels, Cincinnati Reds prospect Tony Cingrani was arguably the best pitcher in minor league baseball from a statistical standpoint. That success earned the left-hander a call up to the show where Cingrani has struck out eight, while walking only a single batter in four-plus innings pitched. Drafted in 2011, the former third round pick has made a meteoric rise to the big leagues. To put it in perspective, the only 2011 first round pick to reach Major League Baseball faster was Arizona Diamondbacks Trevor Bauer.

Video after the jump

Throughout the 2012 season, prospect followers have been ravenous in their hunger to learn more about Cingrani. When traveling to Huntsville for prospect heavyweights in Jean Segura and Billy Hamilton, Cingrani served as an strong under card in terms of prospect “gets.” However, Cingrani’s stuff didn’t “pop,” causing me to cover both shortstops from the series before turning attention to the left-hander.

On the mound, Cingrani utilized deception to help his stuff play up against opposing hitters. In altering his pacing, he gave the impression of lulling hitters to sleep. With a 3/4 arm slot including exaggerated arm extension in the back of his delivery, the result was a “whippy” effect which is difficult for batters to time properly. This left me repeatedly checking my radar gun for accuracy as fastballs I perceived as 90-92 MPH were actually registering a few ticks lower. It should be mentioned the velocity readings were accurate for the start, as my readings were on par with other radar guns of industry types in attendance.

In this appearance, Cingrani’s four-seam fastball sat in the 88-90 MPH range with a two-seamer at 86-88. Both pitches featured late tail and/or drop and Cingrani worked hard to attack all four quadrants of the strike zone. The result was not more than average command, but many of those misguided pitches were up-and-out to right-handed hitters where Cingrani did not finish the pitch out front of his body and dragged his arm a bit. As a member of the Reds bullpen, his average velocity has been 91.5 MPH thus far, which he could probably sustain in that role. But as with most pitchers, velocity as a starter is less than out of the pen and Cingrani is no exception.

Throughout his start in Huntsville, Cingrani relied heavily on his fastball mixing in a slider and changeup on occasion. At 78-82 MPH, the left-hander’s slider was a bit untrue in its sweeping action, but the slurvy offering was relatively effective against Double-A hitters. Of the sliders he threw, Cingrani did hang a couple resulting in hard contact. When down in the zone, it’s an average pitch to a touch above, but a “hammer me” offering when elevated due to softer break down-and-in to right-handed hitters.

At 82-83 MPH, his changeup may become an average pitch as well as it mimics the arm action and movement of the fastball. When Cingrani pulls down hard on the pitch, additional drop is evident and that carried over from his pre-game pen session to the mound. As with the rest of Cingrani’s arsenal, consistency from a command standpoint is needed to project his off-speed pitches as more than average at this point.

Projecting Tony Cingrani’s future role is difficult due to his being a rather unique left-handed pitcher. With a fastball-dominant arsenal, one would expect bigger velocity than a fastball which may not average 90 MPH throwing every fifth day. Of lefties who threw 150 or more innings in 2011-2012 while averaging 89.0-90.9 MPH, only Wade Miley and Joe Saunders threw more than 70% fastballs. In most cases, fastball usage was in the 50-60% range. This tells me Cingrani will either need to rely on off-speed pitches significantly more than he does now, or wind up a reliever at the big league level.

Regardless of the outcome, this pick has already paid off for the organization and will continue to do so in some capacity barring injury. Cingrani is not as good as the numbers would indicate, but a floor of a left-handed reliever and ceiling of number four starter leaves plenty of wiggle room for a long big league career.

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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.

15 Responses to “Reds Tony Cingrani Sails to Cincy”

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  1. RedsManRick says:

    Sounds a bit like the last Reds lefty SP prospect, Travis Wood, who also put up stellar minor league numbers without having elite stuff. Thus far, he’s shown himself to be a back-of-the-rotation starter in his time with the Reds and the Cubs.

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    • RA Rowe says:

      Everyone knows that the speed at which you advance through the minor league system is the major determining factor in what type of player you will be. Are you also predicting he will be traded to the Cubs and grow long hair.

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  2. Paul says:

    I don’t know who was actually called up first, but Maronde made his first appearance a week earlier than Cingrani.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      True, but the comparison was to players drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 draft.

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      • Paul says:

        Ah, I read it the first time just as 2011 draft pick. Since you’re hi-lighting that he was a third rounder who beat a bunch of more highly rated guys to the majors, I have a question about velo.

        He was routinely written up as a big, hard throwing lefty who pitched out of the pen at Rice and was destined to return there in MLB due to the lack of more than a very good fastball. So your velo readings are a big surprise and completely changes the book on him. Of course, it appears to be in a good way and I’m not doubting that you saw what you saw. My question is, do you think the velo takes on him were based on having that better velo out of the Rice bullpen, or was his velo actually just down a bit at the end of his first season after returning to starting? Even the uptick out of the Cincy pen so far is a little light compared to the what the write-ups were saying.

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      • Mike Newman says:


        I read your comments rather frequently so I suspect you are familiar with the fact I don’t dig too deep into a guy before seeing him. This was the case with Cingrani.

        If you check his velocity out of the Reds pen, it’s a 2-3 MPH higher on average than what I saw.

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      • Paul says:

        So something I noticed in the video above, but was a little hard to ID for me was the arm side run on his FB. It shows up a little better in the gifs Carson posted in his article because it’s game action, but the actual movement in your video looks more pronounced due to the angle.

        What’s your take on this? Is that arm side run along with the whippy arm action very rare for a lefthander in your experience? Seems to me like it’s almost an illusion unless you see it from the angle you had in his bullpen, and might be hard to scout.

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  3. Daren M says:

    Worst case scenario, he develops into a J.P. Howell type?

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  4. Jeff says:

    It’s funny that based on the meteoric rise to the Show by Cingrani. everyone is seeking a reason to discount or discredit his success. Every level he has pitched this season including for the Reds, the kid has performed very well. Simply put, the guy consistently gets outs and that’s why he is pitching for the Reds right now.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      I don’t think anybody is looking to discredit him. I write what I see. Should I call an 88-90 MPH fastball 94-96? Should I write he threw off-speed pitches much more than he actually did, or that they were sharper and better than I saw? All I can be is honest in an assessment based on the pitcher I saw in person.

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  5. Jeff says:

    How can you say Cingrani is not as good as the numbers indicate? Every scout is just waiting for the other shoe to fall, and so far, that hasn’t happened. How many times did you see him pitch? Rather than talk about what you are seeing in terms of raw data driven observations might suggest you analyze why he is continually getting hitters out at every level. It appears to me that he has some deception in his delivery that helps play up his fastball.

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  6. Kevin says:

    Cough reds fan cough

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