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Down On the Farm: Ryan Wagner

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Down On the Farm: Ryan Wagner

Postby Jivedude » Mon Dec 01, 2003 4:19 pm

Reds prospect Ryan Wagner

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By John Sickels
Special to ESPN.com


Ryan Wagner
Cincinnati Reds
Position: RHP Height: 6-4 Weight: 210 Born: 7/15/82 Bats: Right Throws: Right


Year Team Level G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO W-L SV ERA
2003 U. of Houston NCAA 38 0 79.1 39 19 17 1 21 148 6-5 15 1.93
Chattanooga AA 5 0 5.0 2 0 0 0 2 6 1-0 0 0.00
Louisville AAA 4 0 4.0 5 2 2 0 0 4 0-1 0 4.50
Cincinnati NL 17 0 21.2 13 4 4 2 12 25 2-0 0 1.66




Background
I decided to write about Cincinnati Reds prospect Ryan Wagner this week because it may be my only chance to do a full prospect profile on him. He's already shown he can get major-league hitters out, and it is likely he'll spend 2004 in the major leagues, eliminating his eligibility for Down on the Farm coverage. But Wagner is still a rookie, so here goes. The University of Houston right-hander had one of the most dominant seasons in NCAA Division I history, earning a first-round slot in the '03 draft. He zipped through the minors very quickly, and finished the year dominating hitters in The Show. Wagner is definitely Cincinnati's closer of the future, and that future is very soon indeed.


Scouting report
Wagner's best pitch is his slider, which is a killer. Scouts already grade it as among the best pitches in baseball; right-handers can't touch it, and even lefties have trouble picking it up. Complementing the slider is a 90-94 mph fastball that has great movement. The fastball moves so well that it is sometimes confused with a breaking ball. Wagner also has a changeup, though it is less refined than his other two offerings. His command is good for a pitcher his age, and when everything is going right he is essentially unstoppable. Wagner is a decent natural athlete. His biggest flaw is mechanical consistency, which sometimes impacts his command. Although he's been durable so far, scouts worry about the effect the slider will have on his elbow. With less-than-perfect mechanics, he is best suited for a relief role since he'll be less likely to blow out his arm.


Performance
Performance analysts and statheads (like me) love Wagner as much as scouts do. He set an NCAA Division I record in K/9 IP in '03, and he continued striking people out at an excellent clip in pro ball. His K/BB and H/IP ratios are also strong, and of course it is hard to overlook a 1.66 ERA in his first 17 major-league games. Pitching ratios K/BB and K/IP are the best statistical predictors of future performance, and Wagner scores great in both departments. The numbers support the subjective observations of scouts that Wagner is one of the best prospects around.


Health record
So far, Wagner has not had a problem with his health. However, as mentioned above, scouts worry about his elbow, due to the slider. There are also concerns about his shoulder in the long run, since his delivery can be rather violent. This adds to his deception on the mound, but it could lead to rotator cuff or labrum problems down the road. Keeping him in relief reduces the risk, but does not eliminate it.


What to expect
Playing for the University of Houston and then the Cincinnati Reds means that Wagner has had a bit less exposure than he deserves. If he played for a team on the coasts, he'd already be a national name. As it is, his reputation in professional circles is high indeed, but the general baseball public is still not as aware of him as they should be. That will change. The only two things that can stop Ryan Wagner from being a star are injuries or a sudden loss of control.


John Sickels is the author of the 2003 Baseball Prospect Book, which can be ordered from his Web site, JohnSickels.com. His biography of Bob Feller will be published this fall by Brassey's. He lives in Lawrence, Kan., with his wife, son, and two cats. You can send John questions or comments at mailto:JASickels@aol.com.
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Postby Madison » Mon Dec 01, 2003 5:19 pm

Unfortunately, it looks like Wagner will be stuck as a middle reliever for now. :-/

Maybe they can stretch him out to be a starter. :-)
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Postby Jivedude » Mon Dec 01, 2003 5:24 pm

Madison wrote:Unfortunately, it looks like Wagner will be stuck as a middle reliever for now. :-/

Maybe they can stretch him out to be a starter. :-)


Hopefully. I picked him up at the end of July so hopefully I can get something out of him next year.
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Postby ukjohn » Mon Dec 01, 2003 6:01 pm

NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

I'm telling you right now...for the better of the Reds team please keep him as a dominant reliever. He will be one of the best setup men this year, and turn into a dominant closer after that. Please don't ruin his arm like they have with so many relievers. PLEASE!!! You out of towners just wouldn't understand!!!
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Postby Jivedude » Mon Dec 01, 2003 6:04 pm

ukjohn wrote:NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

I'm telling you right now...for the better of the Reds team please keep him as a dominant reliever. He will be one of the best setup men this year, and turn into a dominant closer after that. Please don't ruin his arm like they have with so many relievers. PLEASE!!! You out of towners just wouldn't understand!!!


Well I was hoping that Graves would have a good season closing and get traded to a contender after the All Star break. Then Wagner would take over.
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Postby wrveres » Mon Dec 01, 2003 6:53 pm

ukjohn wrote:NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

I'm telling you right now...for the better of the Reds team please keep him as a dominant reliever. He will be one of the best setup men this year, and turn into a dominant closer after that. Please don't ruin his arm like they have with so many relievers. PLEASE!!! You out of towners just wouldn't understand!!!


LOL, poor guy.

Reitsma, Graves and Wagner. Your right, they tried to stretch out all three. I still think Wagner could develop into a starter. I really do, but I understand your pain. Give him a year, at least 6 months in AAA as a Starter and see how he adjusts.

The Kid is just nasty, a definent P/U in a keeper league. IMO
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Postby DieHardCubbie » Mon Dec 01, 2003 9:04 pm

wrveres wrote:I still think Wagner could develop into a starter. I really do, but I understand your pain. Give him a year, at least 6 months in AAA as a Starter and see how he adjusts.

The Kid is just nasty, a definent P/U in a keeper league


This kid has alot of talent....and great potential to be a top starter in the future... ;-D ....but he really needs more time in the minors... :-/
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Postby Justise » Mon Dec 01, 2003 9:56 pm

ukjohn wrote:NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

I'm telling you right now...for the better of the Reds team please keep him as a dominant reliever. He will be one of the best setup men this year, and turn into a dominant closer after that. Please don't ruin his arm like they have with so many relievers. PLEASE!!! You out of towners just wouldn't understand!!!


We wouldn't understand? A lot of people have teams that try to streach out promising pitchers from reliever to starter. BH Kim, R Soriano, others that I don't care to look up or think about.

I saw this guy pitch on espn, he was throwing some of those Roy Halliday bricks at those college pitchers, it was nasty.
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Postby swingaway » Mon Dec 08, 2003 1:24 am

i saw this kid wagner pitch in real life in the college ws and i believe he is the real deal this year or next he should be a dominate closer of the future for the reds. If the red where smart they would trade graves and get more starting pitchers.
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Postby bell » Mon Dec 08, 2003 1:51 am

I would think the Reds would jump at the chance to trade Graves considering his salary, but Graves will have to improve on a 5.33 ERA and .298 BAA before that happens. And he probably loses a little more value if he goes back to closing.
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