Reds prospect experienced both good and bad in first start vs. Brewers
By Mark Sheldon
CINCINNATI -- Michael Lorenzen showed dedication to quickly learning the craft of starting pitching, taking less than two years to reach the Major Leagues after being converted from a college center fielder and closer to a starter.
After his Reds debut on Wednesday, there's little doubt Lorenzen already understood he will find better recipes for success in big league games. The 23-year-old threw a professional career-high 107 pitches -- in just five innings -- and allowed three solo home runs in an 8-3 loss to Milwaukee.
"The biggest thing I learned? Get ahead of guys," said Lorenzen, who gave up three earned runs on eight hits. He struck out five, walked one and threw a wild pitch.
With his power right arm as advertised, Lorenzen threw several pitches upwards of 94 mph. But he also went deep into counts with many hitters, including full counts to five of his first nine batters. After three innings, he was already at 65 pitches.
Lorenzen had previously thrown 90 or more pitches just twice since being drafted 38th overall in 2013. He threw 105 pitches in his most recent start for Triple-A Louisville on Friday.
"It was the first step in learning how to pitch here," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "You can practice all you want in the Minor Leagues, but it's a new education when you get here. He really didn't establish the off-speed stuff for strikes early in the outing. I think they were able to sit on fastballs when he needed a strike."
All three homers against Lorenzen came on fastballs, and all were hit loudly. In the second inning, Adam Lind crushed a 1-1 pitch to center field for a leadoff home run. Two batters later, Khris Davis hit a 3-2 pitch for a homer to center field. With one out in the fifth, Ryan Braun went the opposite way for a homer to right-center field.
"You have to get ahead of guys, and when you miss, they have to be good misses," Lorenzen said. "I missed [a pitch] to Braun and it was up, and he let the whole stadium know that I missed. My misses have to be a little better than what they were today."
Lorenzen, who notched a line-drive single to right field for his first MLB hit in the second inning, didn't feel the nerves pitching in front of 23,012 fans at Great American Ball Park. That included his mother, Cheryl, and one of his older brothers, Matthew.
"It was lot easier than when I was in here last night thinking about it, or being at the hotel thinking about it," Lorenzen said. "When I got out there stretching, I was able to settle in. I'm comfortable on a baseball field. I was excited out there."
Price was pleased overall with the first outing of a pitcher who had already impressed him during Spring Training.
"There's a lot on the plate of a young guy coming up and making his Major League debut, especially as a starter," Price said. "I thought he handled himself wonderfully. We all want to come out and have these guys throw seven beautiful scoreless innings. Very rarely is that the case.
"I think this is the right place for him, I really do. I think he's ready to be here emotionally. Now he has to learn."
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.