Prospect DeSclafani a strong candidate for rotation

Righty was acquired from Marlins in deal that sent Latos to Miami

Prospect DeSclafani a strong candidate for rotation

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Anthony DeSclafani is only 24 years old with 13 big league games, including five starts, on his resume to this point. But Reds manager Bryan Price already has the right-hander labeled as an inside-track candidate for one of the open spots in the club's rotation.

In December, the Reds traded established starting pitcher Mat Latos to the Marlins to get DeSclafani and Minor League catcher Chad Wallach. Part of the move was payroll-related. Latos was arbitration-eligible and a year away from free agency. But the club also really liked DeSclafani.

"We got him in that deal because we targeted him as a priority to fill this role," Price said. "That in large part is why I have him ranked so high on the list of starter options for us."

DeSclafani is ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Reds' No. 5 prospect. The New Jersey native was the Marlins' Minor League pitcher of the year in 2013 after he was part of a blockbuster 12-player trade between the Blue Jays and Miami that included Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle going to Toronto.

Once with the Marlins, DeSclafani moved up quickly. In 20 games (19 starts) last season at Double-A and Triple-A, he had a 3.78 ERA with 93 hits, 31 walks and 97 strikeouts over 102 1/3 innings.

DeSclafani was called up to the Majors multiple times, including his big league debut on May 14, when he went six innings in a 13-3 win over the Dodgers. He posted a 2-2 record and a 6.27 ERA with 40 hits, five walks and 26 strikeouts over 33 innings.

"I learned there were a lot of things I had to work on," DeSclafani said. "You have to be pretty comfortable with all of your pitches and throwing them for strikes in different counts. I kind of learned you have to be able to pitch more, throw stuff when you're behind in the count to keep hitters off balance."

Reds trade for young talent

The Reds feel that DeSclafani has the tools and pitches to be a successful starter in the big leagues.

"A lot of it was based on what we saw with our scouting department and on our video and just our background stuff -- what we've seen visually, what we've heard from people that had him about his ability to command the strike zone with quality pitches and his makeup," Price said. "He's a strike thrower. I would need the dependability of somebody that's going to throw the ball over the plate consistently and be efficient with his pitches. He fits that bill."

According to Fangraphs.com, DeSclafani threw first-pitch strikes nearly 66 percent of the time, which would have put him in the top 15 in the Majors if he had enough innings to qualify.

DeSclafani is working to further develop his curveball this spring, which would give him four reliable pitches.

"I'm excited about that," he said. "I have to get my spin down from last year. I'm working on it, but the dry heat is different."

DeSclafani is competing for a rotation spot along with Tony Cingrani, Jason Marquis, Paul Maholm, Raisel Iglesias, David Holmberg and Dylan Axelrod.

"It's definitely a good opportunity," DeSclafani said. "I'm looking forward to this -- meeting new guys, being part of the Reds organization. I still have to go out and prove myself that I'm an everyday big leaguer. I won't take anything for granted."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.