A recorded interview with Reds pitching prospect Jeremy Horst:
I was one of the biggest Horst boosters in 2008, even before he moved out of the Dayton bullpen and into the starting rotation, when we got a better look at what he could do over extended innings. Horst's 2009 season would be consider a step backwards by many fans. He went 6-13 at Sarasota. However, a closer look tells a different story.
Horst played for a terrible team that finished last in the league in runs scored, with nearly 100 fewer runs than any other team in the Florida State League. When you break down his 23 starts, note that he allowed two runs or less in more than half of them (12). In 9 of 23 starts, he allowed either one or zero earned runs. How do you do that and go 6-13?
On average, over a full season, a starting pitcher may expect a win when his ERA in a game is under 3.50, and a loss when it is over 4.50. If you apply those guidelines to Horst's 23 starts, his record should have been 13-7. A 13-7 record to go along with a 3.25 ERA would have left a much different impression.
Just to test those standards for wins and losses, I looked at a Florida State League pitcher with an ERA similar to Horst WHO DID go 13-7, Amaury Rivas. If you apply those same standards to Rivas's 23 starts, his record would have been 12-7.
Horst finished with the fourth best ERA in the Reds system among full-season starters, behind Wood, Maloney, and Fairel (all left-handers). In Dayton, his fastball was 88-89, making him a somewhat similar pitcher to the other three. His best pitch, by far, was a wicked change-up. He was working on a breaking ball and he talks about this at length in the interview.
Horst's five starts in Carolina did not produce good numbers, something Horst also talks about in the interview. He saw that when you leave the change-up high to a Double-A hitter, you will pay. The first three starts were emergency starts (one in June, two in early August) before heading back to Sarasota. When he went to Carolina for the final two starts, the results were much better. One was excellent: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R.
I think Horst belongs in the 21-30 range as far as Reds prospects. Not many would agree with me on this. He is still learning his craft and improving rapidly. He is a hard worker who is focused on getting better. This kid might surprise you a little. Probably won't be a major league star, but should reach the major leagues.