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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Reds Change One Third Of Pitching Staff

Three pitchers will get a chance to help turn the Reds' battered bullpen around and establish themselves in the Major Leagues.

The Reds added Dayan Diaz, A.J. Morris and Josh Smith to the bullpen.  To make room for them on the 40-man roster, Anthony DeSclafani and Yorman Rodriguez were placed on the 60-day disabled list. It was retroactive so DeSclafani could be available June 2, if he is ready.  Steve Delabar was designated for assignment

 "I believe they can help us. We're optimistic about the kids we brought up. A couple of kids their first time in the big leagues, A.J. Morris and Dayan Diaz. As well as Josh Smith, who pitched for us last year. I think he's in a better role, pitching in middle relief," Bryan Price said. ."This gives us guys who can pitch multiple innings. Dayan is a true sinker ball pitcher. Also the others have fairly strong ground ball rates. We'll see how it translates to this level. The circumstances made it necessary. It's not an indictment on the three players we sent down. It is somewhat of an indictment because we haven't pitched well.certainly not up to Major League calibre for the talent we have here.We have the talent to be better than the results we've had here."

Diaz is 27-years old.  He was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Cartegena, Columbia by the Houston Astros as a 16-year old.  Diaz spent three years in the Venezuelan Developmental League before reaching the Gulf Coast League Astros in 2011. He was signed by the Cubs in 2013 and advanced to Double A.  After the season, Diaz was signed by the Red Sox and spent 2014 and 2015 with the Boston organization, pitching mostly in Double A but had 28 games with Triple A Pawtucket last season where he was 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA in 28 games, all in relief.

"For a pitcher who is not terribly tall in stature, he still creates a downward plane," Price said.. "He gets ground balls and he throws sttikes. He has good velocity 90-95 and a good slider to go with that. Where we are right now, it was a good idea to see some pitchers that weren't in our organization and we're less familiar with to give them a chance to show us what they can do."

Diaz is generously listed at 5'10" but Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf from Game of Thrones, can look him in the eye.  He is more like 5'7".

"His size probably had something to do with him (staying in the minors 11 years)," Price said. "His numbers are off the charts. To have him have the numbers he had in Double A and Triple A and to be available as a free agent, we did some good scouting. He didn't disappoint anyone in spring training. He was one of the last cuts and could have very easily made the club."

"It's the great thing about this sport. Joe Morgan a Hall of Fame secondbasemen is not a big man," Price said.. "We have guys the size of Dayan Diaz up to the size of Jumbo Diaz or Randy Johnson and everybody in between. That's why it's a great game, It doesn't discriminate by size."

 Smith made seven starts and two relief appearances as part of the Reds' 64 consecutive starts by rookie pitchers. He still has rookie status.  Smith was 0-4 with a 6.89 ERA with the Reds last season.  At Louisville, Smith was 3-4 in eight starts with a 3.86 ERA.  He walked 13 and struck out 34 in 42 innings.

" I think Josh Smith was pitching out of role last year in our rotation," Price said. "I think if he would have come up as a middle guy, it would have been a better introduction to the big leagues."

The Reds signed A.J. Morris, 29, in December and invited him to Major League spring training.  Morris was orginally drafted by the Washington Nationals with their fourth round pick in 2009.  He was in the Cubs and Pirates organization.  Morris missed 2011 with shoulder surgery.  The Pirates took him in the Rule V draft in December 2013. Morris was injured and spent most of 2014 on the disabled list.  He was 5-3 with Indianapolis last season with a 2.44 ERA in 44 appearances that included three starts.

At Louisville, Morris was 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in nine games, six starts.  He pitched 30 innings with nine walks and 21 strike outs.

A native of Houston, Texas, Morris played against Jay Bruce in amateur baseball in the Houston area.

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