Top 30 Cincinnati Prospects: No. 11

Cincinnati picked up Michael Lorenzen in the competitive balance round of last year's draft and then used him out of the bullpen at four different levels before sending him to the Arizona Fall League. There were some thoughts that he could be tried both in the outfield and on the mound so far it appears the Reds have notions that he could be a closer at the MLB level.

In 2013 Michael Lorenzen filled his closet with different uniforms. The California native played baseball for Cal St. Fullerton, the AZL Reds, Dayton, Bakersfield, Pensacola, and then the Glendale Diamond Dogs in the Arizona Fall League. Professionally he wasn't particularly effective except for nine scoreless appearances for Dayton. Before that he did well enough at Fullerton to prompt Cincinnati to invest the 38th overall selection on him in the competitive balance round.

The big question when he entered the draft was what position he would play. He only pitched 22 innings his final season with the Titans where he was a fine collegiate center fielder. There were some thoughts that he would try pitching professionally as a backup plan in case he struggled at the plate and there were even some comments that gave indication that the Reds would try him at both positions. However, since signing all of his appearances have been in a relief pitching role.

Lorenzen's draft position was in line with where many analysts predicted, but they were probably considering his value as an outfielder because it was very early for a relief pitcher. Perhaps Cincinnati is considering other plans for him in the future, but based on their use of him thus far it appears they've tabbed him as a closer.

That makes him a bit of an intriguing prospect. Since his action on the mound was limited, one of the strongest parts of the game on his resume was defense in centerfield. It would be highly irregular to use a closer as a late inning defensive replacement during games where he's not needed to pitch, but if they were to give it a try Lorenzen's glove would be up to the task.

Instead the Reds will try to cash in on his upper 90's fastball and sharp slider. That was enough to fast-track a now-22 year-old reliever through enough different levels to make a person's head spin. One would figure his 2014 season would be less nomadic and since Cincinnati was not bashful to run him out against Southern League hitters at the end of last year they'll likely start him off at Pensacola this season.

Lorenzen is a right-hander that stands 6'3"/195#. It wouldn't be surprising to see him develop a third pitch and possibly get some consideration for a conversion to a starter ala former Rice closer and current Reds starter Tony Cingrani. A more likely scenario is replacing closer Aroldis Chapman who the Reds won't likely be able to afford when he's completes his six-year deal signed in 2010.

First things first, and right now Lorezen needs to show effectiveness against AA hitters. If he's successful at that don't be surprised to see him debut at AAA in 2014. He comes out of a college program with a reputation for sending polished players into the professional ranks and the Reds have tabbed him for a fast-tracker. Whatever bullpen this former centerfielder comes out of to start the year probably isn't the same one Cincinnati expects to have him work out of at the season's end.


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