I don't blame you if you've never heard of Dan Reynolds, but a transaction came across my Twitter feed from MLB Trade Rumors this morning that got my attention: the Los Angeles Dodgers have designated the hard-throwing relief pitcher for assignment, after he spent just two weeks in the organization.
Reynolds has pitched exactly two innings above Double-A, and he's only done it in the Los Angeles Angels' organization after being drafted in the sixth round in 2009 out of high school in Nevada. The Dodgers only just acquired him at the start of December after the Angels designated him for assignment.
Sure, a twice-designated-in-a-month minor league reliever — especially one that logged a 4.57 ERA and 5.8 BB/9 last season at Double-A Arkansas — is not the kind of move that will win the Rockies games or bolster the top of their farm system. But there's another level to Reynolds' game that might be worth the (very cheap) flyer.
As Baseball Prospectus notes, Reynolds has a plus-plus fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 99:
Plus-plus offering; has velocity whenever he needs it; arm-side bore is electric; more movement at lower velo band; came out wild in both outings, settled later; command was loose; better command vs. RHH because it forced him to finish his delivery to get the ball to the outside corner; reports had him touching 99 in Double-A.
A former Angels reliever with a plus-plus fastball (and a hard slider) who has control issues. Remind you of Jairo Diaz?
Obviously Reynolds is more unpolished than Diaz when he came to Colorado in a trade last winter, but Reynolds is also further from the big leagues and might be more worth a flyer to see if the Rox can get his power stuff straightened out. Yes, 5.8 BB/9 in Double-A in 2015 is, um, not ideal. But he also whiffed 10.4 batters per nine innings in 2015, and 9.1 the year before. For his minor league career, Reynolds has walked 3.6 per nine innings against 7.6 strikeouts.
In one regard, he doesn't fit the mold general manager Jeff Bridich has shown over the winter in acquiring low-walk relievers. But to be fair, Reynolds is more than a year away from the big leagues, anyways, and on a minor league deal he'd have the time to develop his command, so he need not be as polished as, say, Chad Qualls or Jason Motte. In addition to command, the other tendency Bridich has shown with his relief acquisitions and promotions — acquiring plus-plus velocity relievers — is a trait Reynolds has in spades.
Ultimately, Reynolds himself is somewhat irrelevant in that there are always several relievers like him available throughout the winter: minor leaguers who can throw really hard but don't know where it's going. If it's not Reynolds this month, the Rockies will (probably) get their shot at another cast-off next month.
But Reynolds is the personification of a general type of reliever the Rockies should be seeking: he has a Major League fastball with movement and plus-plus velocity, and on a cheap minor league deal he's well worth taking an interest. With the promotions of guys like Diaz, Scott Oberg, and Carlos Estevez quickly through the system, it appears that interests Bridich, as well.
We'll see if anything ever comes of it; Reynolds is but one player in a sea of minor leaguers looking for jobs, and it's certainly not worth a write-up on every one of these hypothetical candidates. But not every one of these minor leaguers touches 99 mph with their fastball, either. Reynolds' physical traits are something to follow and for that, he's the perfect focal point to start that discussion on cast-off power relievers.