It’s not going to be a pretty season for the Cincinnati Reds. They’ve gutted their team over the last year, trading away stud pitcher Johhny Cueto, and home run extraordinaire Todd Frazier. However, there is one player on the Reds current roster that deserves our attention, and that’s Raisel Iglesias.
The Cuban-born pitcher was one of baseball’s most pleasant surprises during the second half of the 2015 season. He posted a 3.39 ERA to go along with 77 strikeouts. Iglesias was especially dialed in during the month of August where he maintained a 2.27 ERA.
The pitching of Iglesias is needed desperately this season in Cincinnati. The Reds feature a very thin pitching staff that doesn’t feature a true ace. Sure, there are plenty of young arms, but not one that can truly take the mantle as an elite option.
Cincinnati believed highly enough in Iglesias to name him the 2016 Opening Day starter. And he didn’t disappoint during his first start of the season. Iglesias gave up two runs in six innings, and racked up seven strikeouts.
The emergence of Iglesias didn’t just come out of nowhere. He was an outstanding pitcher in Cuba, playing for the Cuban National Team at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. But like most Cuban baseball stars, Iglesias defected from the country with the hope of playing professionally in America.
The Reds saw his potential and signed him to a seven-year deal worth $27 million in June of 2014. Like most experienced Cuban defectors, Iglesias wasn’t in the minors for long. He made the teams rotation out of training camp in 2015. His only experience of pro ball came via the 2014 Arizona Summer League.
There list of dominant starting pitchers goes quite deep in today’s game. Players such as Kershaw, Scherzer, Price, Sale, and Kluber come to mind as some of the best. Cincinnati hopes that Iglesias can evolve into one of the league’s top-tier pitchers. And while he may not reach that level quite this soon, his second half numbers from 2015 indicate that’s there’s a lot he can offer.
Many don’t know about Iglesias’s talent yet, but he’s got all the tools to be a top of the rotation pitcher. He might not pitch lights out every outing, and there will be bad pitching performances, but he’s someone to keep a very watchful eye on.
There might not be a lot to get excited for in Cincinnati. However, Raisel Iglesias gives the Reds faithful a glimmer of hope