Sunday, January 18, 2009

2009 Top Prospect List: #13 Josh Roenicke, rhp

Josh Roenicke
Height 6-3, Weight 200, B/T: R/R, DOB: 08/4/1982
2008 Redlegs Baseball Prospect Ranking: #17


Josh Roenicke arrived in the majors for a late September cup of coffee. One could make the case that he should have arrived earlier and worked more innings, but at least he got his feet wet. Last year, Roenicke checked in at #17, but this year he climbs the rankings. His raw stuff is as good as ever and he has proven himself against more advanced competition. He's on the cusp of the majors, waiting only for the Reds to find a fulltime spot in their MLB bullpen.

2008 SEASON

The Reds sent Roenicke to double-A Chattanooga to start the 2008 season. At double-A, Roenicke pitched well. In 22 innings, he posted a 3.27 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and a 28/12 K/BB ratio. In his time there, he also racked up 10 saves, gaining even more valuable late inning experience.

His performance earned him a promotion to triple-A Louisville. At triple-A, he worked 39.0 innings and posted a 2.54 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 43/14 K/BB ratio. He only earned 3 saves, filling primarily a set-up role for Jon Adkins.

Overall, Roenicke was about as good as his numbers. At Chattanooga, his FIP was 3.46 and his BABIP was .358. At Louisville, his FIP was 2.88 and his BABIP was .330.

As with most power pitchers, Roenicke doesn't get a significant number of groundballs. Most high strikeout, power pitchers tend to work up in the strikezone, which leads to a significant number of flyballs. Overall in 2008, Roenicke posted a GB/FB ratio of 0.98, so he was basically a neutral pitcher.

Roenicke's solid season earned him a promotion to the majors, where he acquitted himself well...for a rookie. He only worked 3.0 innings and posted a 9.00 ERA, but he struck out 6 hitters, which was good for an 18.0 K/9. His fastball averaged 94.8 mph, which is even nastier when you consider the good movement on the pitch.

Here's how Roenicke's first MLB outing unfolded and his thoughts on his performance:
Roenicke struggled with his command and walked first batter Chris Young on four pitches to load the bases. Adam Dunn was hit by a 2-0 pitch that forced in the go-ahead run. Roenicke struck out Mark Reynolds to get out of the jam with no more runs crossing. The Reds were able to come back and win, 3-2, in 10 innings.

"I came in here and watched it afterwards," Roenicke said. "I felt I was yanking the ball a little bit, and obviously nerves came into play. But I wasn't missing up. I was missing down, which means I wasn't overthrowing it, which I didn't want to do. I wanted to be relaxed and focused."


You can access Roenicke's MLB draft scouting video here.


REPERTOIRE AND DELIVERY

Roenicke leans heavily on his fastball, which has good movement and rates as the best in the system, and a cutter that has so much movement that it almost looks like a splitter. Roenicke is a very good athlete with MLB bloodlines, as his father is Gary Roenicke and his uncle is Ron Roenicke. His athleticism gives him good body control throughout his delivery. In addition, he utilizes clean mechanics and does a good job incorporating his lower body in the delivery. He utilizes a high leg kick and good body coil to generate velocity. Overall, he has the clean mechanics and nasty arsenal of pitches to be a late inning reliever who can handle the high leverage innings.


FUTURE

Given his late conversion to pitching, Roenicke is already 26 years old. He has the skills to be a very effective member of an MLB bullpen, but the Reds just don't seem ready to give him a role at the MLB level. As of now, the Reds bullpen is already pretty well set, as the following pitchers likely have roles already locked up:

cl) Francisco Cordero
8th) Jared Burton
7th) David Weathers
lhmr) Billy Bray
loogy) Arthur Rhodes
mr) Mike Lincoln

As of right now, the Reds have 6 of their 7 spots in the bullpen already filled. Hopefully, Roenicke is the front runner for the final slot, but he'll be in competition with Ramon Ramirez, Carlos Fisher, Danny Ray Herrera, and perhaps even Micah Owings. It's going to be a crowded competition, but Roenicke's upside should make him the front runner.

To me, it only makes sense to give the job to Roenicke. That way, he could get his feet under him in a middle/long relief job with an eye towards working high leverage innings in 2010 and beyond. Given his filthy stuff and athleticism, Roenicke should claim a setup or closer role before too long. To me, it still seems that the Reds don't properly handle their young pitchers. Homer Bailey is one example, but I think Roenicke is another. Maybe it's just the fact that the organization is still unaccustomed to developing young pitching, but they need to start feathering Roenicke into the MLB bullpen. He's ready and the Reds could use him.

For now, Roenicke checks in at #13, but he's big league ready and unless something goes terrible wrong, he shouldn't be eligible for this list again in 2010.

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