The Reds announced Wednesday that they’ve selected the contract of pitching prospect Eduardo Salazar from Triple-A Louisville and designated righty Silvino Bracho for assignment in a corresponding move.
Entering the 2023 season, the 25-year-old Salazar was a generally nondescript prospect in the Reds’ system. He’d never cracked the organization’s top 30 at Baseball America and only drew a cursory mention as a potential multi-inning reliever in Eric Longenhagen’s 2022 overview of the Reds’ system over at FanGraphs — due largely to a velocity spike and improvement on his breaking ball.
Following a move from a starting role to short relief, Salazar has flipped the narrative surrounding him in a substantial way in 2023. He’s combined for 17 2/3 innings of 0.51 ERA ball between Double-A and Triple-A, whiffing a massive 35.2% of his opponents against an outstanding 4.2% walk rate. Salazar hasn’t given up a home run this season and has induced grounders at an enormous 63.2% rate.
Cincinnati relievers rank 10th in the Majors with a 3.72 ERA and are fourth in total innings pitched (193 2/3), thanks largely to a young starting rotation that has struggled to keep runs off the board and pitch deep into games. Reds starters have a 6.29 ERA that ranks second-worst in baseball, and only the Rays — who’ve frequently used openers and bullpen games — have gotten fewer innings from the rotation.
Much of the relief corps’ success is attributable to strong performances from Buck Farmer, Ian Gibaut, Alex Young and especially closer Alexis Diaz. The Reds have also gotten nice contributions from Derek Law and Kevin Herget. On the whole, it’s a collection of journeymen, many of whom are experiencing their first taste of MLB success in simultaneous fashion. That coalescence has proven to be a godsend for the Reds and manager David Bell, but Salazar will hope to join Diaz as a homegrown product and success story for the team’s scouting and player development departments.
Bracho, 30, held opponents scoreless in three of his four outings — the lone exception being a three-run appearance against the Yankees in which he only recorded two outs. Overall, he pitched 5 1/3 innings with the Reds and only allowed two hits, though he walked more batters (five) than he struck out (four).
In 99 1/3 career innings, most of them spent with the D-backs, Bracho has a 4.89 ERA with a 23.7% strikeout rate against a 9.1% walk rate. He’s typically been homer-prone in his career (1.72 HR/9), but he had some success with Arizona in both 2015 and 2019. The Reds will have a week to trade Bracho, pass him through outright waivers, or release him. He has more than three years of Major League service time, so even if he goes unclaimed on waivers, he’d have the right to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency.