Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Reds (Double-A Pensacola)
In last week’s “Scout Quotes” article, it was mentioned by one industry source that Lorenzen had jumped to the top of the Reds system, above the mighty Robert Stephenson, one of the top right-handed arms in the entire minors. While I absolutely disagree with the opinion that Lorenzen is somehow a superior prospect to Stephenson, the reports so far this season have painted a much more pleasant picture of the former supplemental first round pick than I witnessed in camp. At the time, I thought the 22-year-old arm was highly athletic with an electric fastball, but I thought the delivery was stiff and the secondary arsenal underwhelming. It was a reliever all the way for me, an opinion that bordered on consensus at the time.
Fast-forward a few months and Lorenzen’s developmental progress is slowly winning hearts and minds, and several sources see not only a future starter but one with impact potential. I think the major-league outcome is still very abstract, as the delivery has some red flags that could limit effectiveness in longer outings; stays tall and stiff, with a deep ball pickup and rigid arm action. The command is below-average at present, and even though he can comfortably pump his fastball in the 93-95 range, he struggles with control when he overthrows in the elite velocity range. The slider could be a money pitch with big velocity and some tilt, the changeup has improved dramatically from what I saw this spring, and he’s even mixing in an occasional curveball to keep hitters off his high-intensity offerings. As a reliever, Lorenzen could eventually lock down a late-innings role and develop into a lethal setup option at the highest level. But his real value could come in a rotation, a projection that most doubted at the start of the day but one that is looking more possible with each passing start.