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Moving on Up: Cody Reed

LHP Cody Reed, acquired last summer in the Johnny Cueto trade, will debut for the Reds on Saturday. What can fantasy owners expect?

MLB: Cincinnati Reds-Media Day Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Later today LHP Cody Reed will make his Major-League debut for the Cincinnati Reds when they visit the Houston Astros. As a general rule, we should temper enthusiasm for a pitching prospect about to debut with a terrible team that plays inside a bandbox of a home ballpark. Reed, however, might be an exception to the rule.

Selected by Kansas City in the second round of the 2013 draft, Reed struggled through two ineffective professional seasons, including a 5.46 ERA in 19 starts with the Low-A Lexington Legends in 2014, before hitting his stride in 2015. For the Royals organization he made 15 starts between HIgh-A and Double-A, striking out 84 batters in 96 innings and lowering his WHIP from 1.68 to 1.19. Then, on July 26, Kansas City traded him to Cincinnati along with LHPs Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb in a blockbuster deal to acquire RHP Johnny Cueto. Following the trade, Reed’s numbers improved further. He made eight starts for Double-A Pensacola, finishing with a 2.17 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 49.2 IP.

Reed entered 2016 as our #6 fantasy prospect in the Reds’ system, which, in hindsight, seems a bit stingy on our part. In 2016 the young lefthander has continued to flourish with his new organization. He has made 11 starts at Triple-A Louisville and has posted a 3.20 ERA with 63 K and only 17 BB in 64.1 IP.

More to the point, Reed appears to have surpassed RHP Robert Stephenson as Cincinnati’s #1 pitching prospect. There’s legitimate excitement surrounding today’s start, and that excitement appears to stem not only from Reed’s strong performance in the minors but from his arsenal of excellent pitches, including a mid-90s fastball and especially a mid-80s wipeout slider, which he uses against both righties and lefties.

If you play in a dynasty league or an NL-only league, there’s a good chance Reed already is owned. In mixed leagues he’s been a sneaky stash. Though I would not go as far as to call him a must-add, owners in re-draft leagues could do much worse than a young lefty with serious strikeout potential.