TODAY: The Reds officially promoted O’Brien, and left-handed Cionel Perez was optioned to Triple-A.
SEPTEMBER 27: The Reds are planning to recall Riley O’Brien to start tomorrow evening’s game against the White Sox, manager David Bell told reporters (including C. Trent Rosecrans of the Athletic). It’ll be the right-hander’s major league debut. O’Brien was added to the 40-man roster last offseason to keep him from being exposed in the Rule 5 draft, so no corresponding move will be needed in that regard.
O’Brien was originally selected by the Rays in the eighth round of the 2017 draft out of the College of Idaho. He worked his way up to Double-A Montgomery over the next few years before being sent to the Reds last summer for lefty reliever Cody Reed. O’Brien spent the rest of the 2020 campaign at Cincinnati’s alternate training site.
Each of Baseball America, Keith Law of the Athletic, MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs slotted the 25-year-old in the back half of the Reds’ top thirty prospects last offseason. Public evaluators generally suggest O’Brien’s likely to settle in as a back-of-the-rotation starter or multi-inning relief option in the relatively near future. The 6’4″ hurler draws praise for his low-mid 90s fastball and athleticism, but his command and the quality of his secondary offerings has been less consistent.
That’s been borne out in O’Brien’s first crack at Triple-A this season. Over 112 2/3 frames with Louisville, he’s worked to a 4.55 ERA with a solid 24.7% strikeout rate but an elevated 11.2% walk percentage. While the Reds clinched their second consecutive above-average season this afternoon, they won’t make it to the playoffs. They’ll get a look at O’Brien for a start or two in the season’s final week, and he figures to be in the mix for some sort of role on next year’s season-opening staff.