The Reds announced today that they’ve designated left-hander John Lamb for assignment and selected the contract of right-hander Ariel Hernandez. Lamb recently underwent his second back surgery in the past 10 months, giving him a chance to clear waivers.
Originally acquired from the Royals alongside Brandon Finnegan and Cody Reed (in exchange for Johnny Cueto), the 26-year-old Lamb has struggled in both of his two seasons with the Reds. Injuries have long plagued the once vaunted pitching prospect, as he also underwent Tommy John surgery as a minor leaguer. There was a time when both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus regarded Lamb as one of baseball’s top 20 prospects, but it’s now been five years since he received that distinction. In 119 2/3 innings as a Major Leaguer, all with the Reds, Lamb has a 6.17 ERA, although his 110-to-50 K/BB ratio is somewhat encouraging. Home runs have been Lamb’s primary downfall, as he’s yielded 1.65 HR/9 to this point in his big league career.
As for Hernandez, the 24-year-old Dominican righty was originally signed by the Giants but ultimately wound up pitching in independent ball in 2015 before the D-backs gave him another chance. While Hernandez posted just a 6.04 ERA in 22 1/3 innings in the Arizona system in 2015, the Reds saw something they liked and picked him up in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft and were rewarded for that show of faith. While Hernandez was old to be pitching in the Class-A Midwest League and Class-A Advanced Florida State League, the combined 2.18 ERA, 10.7 K/9 rate and 54.6 percent ground-ball rate he compiled are nonetheless impressive. Control appears to be an issue, as he did average 5.7 walks per nine innings. Scouting reports on the right-hander are scarce, though Baseball America did list him as a “rising” prospect in the Cincinnati system in July, noting that he’s still “way too wild” but possesses one of baseball’s best fastball/curveball combos and has drawn some 80 grades from scouts on both pitches (BA subscription required and recommended).