Corcino Working to Get Back on Track in AA

Pensacola had an easy time of it Saturday with an 8-0 win over visiting Jacksonville. Starter Daniel Corcino had more difficulty on the mound than the final score would indicate, but he still managed seven shutout innings as he tries to work his way back to the AAA level.

Pensacola jumped out to a five-run lead in the first inning and added on two more the next frame as they cruised to an 8-0 shutout over Jacksonville to open up a five-game home series. Steve Selsky plated the first run of the game with a sac fly on which he reached via an error. Rossmel Perez followed with a run-scoring single before Travis Mattair cleaned the bases with a three-run home run. The Wahoos didn't let up the next inning when Daniel Corcino led off with a double and scored on a Brodie Greene single who later crossed the plate on another RBI-hit from Perez. Juan Silverio provided the last run of the game on a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the fifth.

On the mound Corcino navigated around ten hits and three walks to toss seven scoreless innings for the win. Jamie Walczak and Justin Freeman closed out the shutout with one frame each. Pensacola pitching combined to strand fifteen Suns runners on base.

Though Corcino might have been generous at allowing runners, no pitcher will ever lose a game when he doesn't allow a run. This is his second tour of the Southern League after a solid 2012 season there lifted him into some top-100 MLB prospect lists entering last year. He had command issues against AAA hitters during a frustrating campaign at Louisville last year when he finished with an ERA near six and was demoted to the bullpen for his last few appearances. Saturday's game brought his ernie down to 3.27 thus far in 2014.

In retrospect, it's pretty safe to say that his jump to the highest minor league level was premature, but he was coming off a season where he finished with a flat three in AA so at the time it didn't appear he had much left to prove there. Previously he'd shot up through the Cincinnati system after signing a foreign free agent contract in 2008. The Reds probably thought he'd eventually come around in the International League, but that never really materialized. After all his promotions and now demotions it's easy to forget that at 23 years old he's still a bit below the average age in the Southern League.

Despite his success this season he still needs improvement on his control to drop his walk rate which dipped below five per nine innings Saturday and improve his 6.2 per nine strikeout rate. This is the same pitcher that had rates of 10.1 k's vs 2.2 walks per nine at Dayton in 2011 which prompted Cincinnati to skip him over the high-A level altogether before he pitched a full season at Pensacola .

After his success in 2012 that jump appeared a good decision, or at least it looked a lot better at that time than it does now. Back then his background and stature reminded many of current Reds ace Johnny Cueto who making a serious run for a Cy Young award. Those comparisons will disappear for a while because Cueto has stuck at the MLB level since a shortage of pitching with the Reds pulled him up in 2008 after he'd had very little AAA experience. Now Corcino is trying to get back to Louisville after already spending a full season there.

Perhaps the expectations were unfair; there's no shame for a 23 year old pitcher because he's not enjoying MLB success like Johnny Cueto. Coricino does possess a mid-90's fastball and has thrown a nice slider in the past. Even if he doesn't bring his walk rate back down to an acceptable level for a starter there might be a future as a reliever. Cincinnati has shown that if the velocity is there they will stick with a prospect despite lackluster results in the minors, ala Curtis Partch and Josh Ravin who joined Cocinto as additions to the 40-man roster before last season.

Actually if he does go to the pen full time he'd be following the path of most other pitching prospects that stand under six feet tall, but for now the Reds are content to continue letting him work out of the rotation. The contract signed by Homer Bailey before this season and the emergence of Alfredo Simon as a starter has removed the need to fast-track him. There should be less pressure while he works to get back on track at Pensacola this season so he can take another crack at AAA hitters again. He might have lost his spot on MLB's top 100 list but he's still a highly-visible prospect in the Cincinnati system.

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