By C. Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati Enquirer
Scheduled to pitch multiple innings on Friday, right-hander Barrett Astin and left-hander Wandy Peralta were excited about the extended outings and talked pregame about opening up their arsenal.
For much of camp, the two have stayed with their strongest pitches, but with two innings on tap, Peralta told Astin he was going to use his changeup more in the game against Cleveland. Astin decided it was time to break out his curveball and changeup to add to his fastball and slider mix.
The result was four scoreless innings out of the pair, two by each. Astin allowed a hit and struck out four.
“I’m just trying to stay within myself and go out there and pitch,” Astin said. “I’m just trying to throw it right over the plate. Command (pitches) down in the zone, mix it up a little bit and it usually goes well.”
So far Astin has allowed just six hits and a run in 6 2/3 innings over six outings. Peralta has a 4.70 ERA in 7 2/3 innings over six appearances. Three of the four runs he’s allowed came in one outing.
But spring training statistics are rarely as important as spring training impressions, especially for the younger pitchers like Peralta and Astin.
“The thing about it, a lot of these guys who don’t just wow you with power,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “(Friday, Astin) was 92-94, so plenty of fastball. The guys who, when you see (Luis) Castillo, you say, ‘oh man.’ That’s 96-100. Or Ariel Hernandez. Or any number of these guys. If you see Rookie Davis now throwing the ball as hard as he’s throwing it, 92-96. The stuff stands out.
“It’s more for the guys who don’t have the ‘wow’ velocity but have the pitchability. You need to see those guys enough to see this guy can manage a zone, he can field his position, he can control the running game. There’s a presence and a maturity, but it takes a little time to assess those guys. Sometimes a one-inning look, you see them doesn’t do much for me as an evaluator.”
Also making an impression is left-hander Evan Mitchell, who entered Saturday’s game not having allowed a run in 4 2/3 innings over six appearances.
Saturday was Mitchell’s 25th birthday and joked that so far 24 had been treating him well, so he wasn’t sure if getting older was a good thing.
“I liked the 24-year-old Evan,” he said.
Mitchell appeared in 33 games for Double-A Pensacola last season, going 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 46 2/3 innings.
After bouncing between the bullpen and the rotation at Mississippi State, the Georgia native has been almost exclusively a reliever in pro ball.
Like Peralta and Astin, he’s caught the eye of his manager.
“He’s been the guy who has come in as the middle-of-the-fire guy,” Price said. “He’s been the guy who has entered a lot of games with runners on base, pitchers hit his pitch count and Evan’s come in there and his first-batter efficiency has been terrific. He’s throwing strikes with his fastball and slider and been extremely impressive.”