by Matt Wilkes

Meet Riley O’Brien, Reds newest acquisition

During last night’s win over the Cubs, the Reds announced they’ve acquired right-handed pitcher Riley O’Brien from the Rays in exchange for Cody Reed.

Reed had been designated for assignment earlier in the week.

O’Brien is 25 years old and slots in as the Reds’ No. 18 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He had been the Rays’ No. 20 prospect. Tampa Bay took him in the eighth round of the 2017 draft from the College of Idaho. After pitching in rookie ball the year he was drafted, O’Brien pitched across two levels in both 2018 and 2019, reaching Double-A last year before elbow soreness shut him down in July.

Standing at 6-foot-4 and 170 pounds, he’s a lanky right-hander who has steadily added velocity. Per MLB Pipeline’s scouting report, he can reach 97 mph with his fastball and sits between 92 and 95. Here’s what the Reds pitching coaches and coordinators will be excited about: he throws two high-spin breaking balls — a slider and a curveball — that show above-average potential. He also mixes in an average changeup.

Here’s a video of his delivery from spring training in 2019:

Although O’Brien has some issues with control, perhaps due to the inconsistent delivery seen in the video above, he can also miss bats. In 232 innings as a professional, O’Brien has a 2.83 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 26.5% strikeout rate, and 10.9% walk rate. He’s viewed as a starter for now, but could eventually move to the bullpen if he doesn’t develop better command. If he does develop stronger command, though, we could see him shoot up prospect rankings. Whatever happens, the Reds certainly added an intriguing young pitcher.

Here’s what Tom Nichols, broadcaster for the Dayton Dragons, had to say about O’Brien:

Also of note: O’Brien is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft in December, which means the Reds will have to add him to the 40-man roster or risk losing him. He’ll have about a month to state his case at Prasco Park.

[Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/StoneCrabs/status/1025207508934320128/photo/1]

Matt Wilkes got hooked on Reds baseball after attending his first game in Cinergy Field at 6 years old, and he hasn’t looked back. As a kid, he was often found imitating his favorite players — Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns — in the backyard. When he finally went inside, he was leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 or keeping stats for whatever game was on TV. He started writing about baseball in 2014 and has become fascinated by analytics and all the new data in the game. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in Columbus. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.