Aug 24, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A general view of the 2015 All Star Game logo during the eighth inning in the game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves at Great American Ball Park. The Reds defeated the Braves 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
In just 26 days, Cincinnati Reds’ pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training in Goodyear, AZ, and that bevy of players will include one of the more intriguing names from the franchise’s story over the past year. Pitcher Raisel Iglesias will be one of the more closely-watched Reds in camp, and he is Number 26 on our Countdown Team.
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Iglesias, who will be 25 on April Fool’s Day, was signed by the Reds to a seven-year, $30-million deal as a Cuban free agent last summer after the team won a bidding war for his services. Inevitable comparisons to teammate and fellow Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman may place unrealistic expectations on Iglesias, but he has a chance to be a special player in his own right.
Checking in two years older than Chapman when the Cuban Missile made his debut, Iglesias is also nowhere near the fireballer that Chapman is, but then again, neither is anyone else. The fastball is improving, though, and can hit 95, and his sweeping curve can be a problem for hitters. Iglesias’ control has been up and down, and he’ll need to hammer down that part of his game to have lasting success since he doesn’t blow away every batter like Chapman does.
While the Reds made early noises about trying Chapman in the rotation, that never materialized, and he has developed into on of the better closers in the Major Leagues. The general consensus on Iglesias, on the other hand, is that he will find his way into a Big League rotation at some point. With the Reds having traded Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos this off-season, 2015 might be the year that Iglesias stakes his starting claim.
If he loses out on a rotation slot in Spring Training, Iglesias is a good bet to land one of the long reliever spots that manager Bryan Price will look to revamp before Opening Day.
One way or another, we can probably expect to see Iglesias in Cincinnati sometime before the 2015 All-Star break.