Michael Lorenzen Scouting Report (2014)
For Cincinnati Reds prospect Michael Lorenzen, the transition from collegiate center fielder and part time reliever to full time pitcher has been quick. Drafted by the Reds in the first round last year out of Cal State Fullerton, the Cincinnati wasted no time converting the athletic hurler into a starting pitcher. After making his pro debut as a reliever, the Reds sent Lorenzen to the Arizona Fall League last October to become a starter. The transition has went well, enabling the Reds to start the Fullerton product’s 2014 campaign in Double-A Pensacola.
In 82 innings this season, Lorenzen has flashed dominance. While his strikeout numbers are down from last season, the former first round pick is retiring hitters at a greater rate. His walk rate has nearly cut in half from 5.6 to 3.0 walks per nine innings. Is this an example of an athlete morphing into a complete pitcher? Is Michael Lorenzen a Major League starter long term?
The 22-year-old former center fielder is a plus athlete near physical projection. With broad shoulders and a sturdy base, his 6-foot-3, 195 pound frame can handle a starter’s workload. Against the Chattanooga Lookouts, a Double-A Dodgers affiliate. Lorenzen threw four pitches. His fastball was his best pitch, sitting 93-95 MPH. He mixed in a two-seam fastball at 92-93 MPH with plus potential. With arm-side run and late, boring action, the pitch resulted in soft contact and a number of ground balls. The former first round pick struggled hitting spots and lost the strike zone entirely on two occasions. These difficulties are a product of not being able to repeat his delivery and can be ironed out with experience and minor mechanical tweaks.
The best of his secondaries is a quick hitting slider. The pitch featured cutting action and late, 10-4 movement. The 82-84 MPH slider is the 22-year-old’s out pitch. However, swings-and-misses will be kept to a minimum as advanced hitters won’t bite due to shaky fastball command.
A second breaking pitch, a 12-6 curveball, also made an appearance. Having learned the pitch earlier in the season, it was only thrown twice and is in it’s infancy.
An 83-85 MPH change-up was a revelation. According to an amateur contact, Lorenzen didn’t throw the pitch in college. With strong speed differential off of the two-seam fastball, the pitch kept left-handed hitters off balance the second and third time through the batting order. With drop and arm side run, the pitch will become a weapon against left-handed hitters as long as command improves.
The root cause of Lorenzen’s command issues is found in his delivery. Slow and deliberate to the balance point, the right-hander gathers himself well and is able to keep his body behind the ball. However as he lowers his front leg, he pauses before continuing a short stride towards home plate. This delay robs Lorenzen of balance and base strength. Essentially, Lorenzen’s velocity comes from the shoulders and arm instead of a strong base. While the strength of his arm makes it appear as if he’s playing a game of catch with his battery mate, this pitching style puts strain on his labrum.
His experience as a college hitter also adds value at the plate. Rotoscouting’s Jeff Reese liked him better as a center fielder coming into last year’s draft. Despite being late on pitches, Lorenzen showed good fundamentals. With regular batting practice afforded to pitchers in the big leagues, the hurler should become one of the better hitting pitchers in baseball.
Michael Lorenzen career path has been defined. With three solid-average or better pitches, signs point towards continued progression as a starting pitcher. However, concerns over his delivery and his struggles with command will need to be ironed out before reaching Cincinnati. Lorenzen is having a remarkable season as a full-time pitcher for the first time in his baseball playing life. The future is bright for the Cal State Fullerton alumnus.ToolPresentFuture
Projected Role Number 3 Starter On First Division Team Fastball 55 60 Curveball 25 35 Slider 55 60 Changeup 45 55 Control 40 45 Command 35 40
Owning Michael Lorenzen
Lorenzen has all the tools to become a solid, middle-of-the-rotation starter. While he lacks the tantalizing strikeout totals of other prospects, the 22-year-old is likely to be a product of consistency in a fantasy rotation. In a keeper league, Michael Lorenzen is a watch list player at the moment who needs to be monitored closely. Premium athletes have the ability to make large jumps in progression when things click. Keep tabs on his progress and be ready to pull the trigger upon a promotion.
2 Jul 2014 / Chris Blessing / 2