The Reds announced that right-hander Stephen Johnson and catcher Kyle Skipworth have cleared waivers and been outrighted off the 40-man roster (Johnson to Triple-A Louisville and Skipworth to Double-A Pensacola). Skipworth was on the 60-day disabled list but had reached the end of his rehab window and was subsequently placed on waivers, whereas Johnson’s removal from the 40-man roster will drop Cincinnati’s count to 39, paving way for the activation of right-hander Anthony DeSclafani from the 60-day disabled list.
Johnson, 25, was acquired by the Reds from the Giants last August in exchange for Marlon Byrd. He rattled off 8 2/3 shutout innings for Cincinnati’s Double-A affiliate following the trade last season and went on to post a 0.73 ERA in 12 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League. Dominant as Johnson was in 2015 (he also had a 3.41 ERA with 10.6 K/9 against 4.5 BB/9 in 58 innings for San Francisco’s Double-A affiliate), he’s looked lost on the mound at Triple-A in 2016. In 28 1/3 innings with Louisville, he’s limped to a 5.72 ERA and seen his strikeout rate dip to 8.9 K/9 against a still-too-high 4.4 BB/9 rate (he’s also hit four batters). His struggles have escalated recently, as he has a 7.20 ERA over the past month prior to today’s news.
Skipworth, meanwhile, will look to get his career back on track at the Double-A level. The 26-year-old was selected sixth overall by the Marlins in the 2008 draft and at one point rated as a Top 100 prospect in the eyes of both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. Skipworth even drew comparisons to Joe Mauer for his offensive upside back in BA’s 2008 scouting report, but his tools at the plate have never come around in the minors. He’s a career .214/.279/.384 hitter in parts of nine minor league seasons and doesn’t have an OPS north of .700 at any single minor league level.
In DeSclafani, the Reds will be getting their most consistent starter from 2016 back into the rotation. Oblique injuries have kept the 26-year-old from taking a big league mound this season, but he built up to 72 pitches in his final rehab assignment and has apparently been deemed ready to return to the team. DeSclafani, who posted a 4.05 ERA in 184 2/3 innings for Cincinnati last season, will look to augment a rotation that has struggled tremendously in 2016. With Raisel Iglesias having spent much of the season on the DL alongside DeSclafani and Alfredo Simon allowing more than a run per inning, Reds’ starters have combined to post a 5.04 ERA on the year.