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Raisel Iglesias: Emerging Ace

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Ray takes a closer look at Reds young starter Raisel Iglesias and opines that he could be a future ace in the big leagues.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Reds are beginning their version of a rebuild, and a big part of every rebuild is to build a young, controllable starting rotation. The Reds have been trading off their veterans with talent for young controllable pitching, and have several high ceiling pitching prospects in the minors, including Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed among others, so they should be able to find their future #1 starter over the next few seasons. Well, the Reds may have their future ace already.

His name is Raisel Iglesias.

Last season, Iglesias made 18 appearances for the big league club, 16 of them as a starter, going 3-7 with a 4.15 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 3.28 xFIP, and a stellar 1.14 WHIP. He struck out more than a batter per inning (9.82 K/9), limited the free pass (2.64 BB/9) and induced ground balls at a 47.2% rate, showing us that his surface stats were misleading. His peripheral stats (K/9, BB/9 and GB%) are that of an ace.

Among starters with 90 or more innings pitched last season, Iglesias' 9.82 K/9 ranked 11th in the game, ahead of aces like Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, David Price, Jake Arrieta and others. His 11.7% SwStr rate ranked 19th in baseball as well, ahead of ahead of aces Felix Hernandez, Harvey, Arrieta and others. While it was only 95.1 innings, Iglesias showed that he is one of the best young starters in the game.

He struggled upon his call up, but over his last nine starts of the 2015 season, from August first on, he pitched to a 3.13 ERA, with a 0.90 WHIP and a 62-15 strikeout to walk rate over 54.2 innings. That included three starts from August 23- September 2 where he struck out 33 and walked just 8 in 21 innings of work. Ace-like.

What can we expect from him in 2016?

Here is a look at his 2015 stats, along with his 2016 ZiPS and Steamer projections, all courtesy of FanGraphs:

Season

Team

W

L

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BABIP

LOB%

GB%

HR/FB

ERA

FIP

2015

Reds (AAA)

1

3

6

29

6.52

2.48

1.24

0.25

77.50%

3.41

4.33

2015

Reds

3

7

16

95.1

9.82

2.64

1.04

0.286

70.60%

47.20%

13.90%

4.15

3.55

2016

Steamer

10

11

29

175

8.72

2.70

1.04

0.284

73.60%

3.58

3.71

2016

ZiPS

7

7

24

133

8.59

2.44

1.08

0.313

73.60%

3.79

3.78

ZiPS and Steamer are projecting him to basically be a league average pitcher based on their ERA and FIP projections, but he should provide solid strikeout totals. Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster projects him to win 12 games with a 3.66 ERA and to strike out nearly a batter per inning.

I think he can exceed all three ERA/FIP projections this season, and I think he can finish the season with an ERA in the 3.00-3.30 range with a WHIP in the 1.15-.19 range. The wins may not he plentiful, but he should provide value in the other three categories this season. I ranked him as my 41st ranked starter in our Consensus Starting Pitcher Rankings that will publish on Monday, and that may prove to be conservative.

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