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Reds run 'pitching summit' to prepare prospects

Cincinnati assembles to better equip young arms for 2016
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- No matter who makes up the Reds' pitching staff this season, it will be comprised of many young pitchers with high ceilings and unfinished development.

Reds manager Bryan Price, his pitching coaches and the front office wanted the team's young pitchers to be as prepared as possible heading into 2016, so for a few days in mid-January, the club assembled several of its prospects at the team complex in Goodyear, Ariz., for what was called a "pitching summit."

CINCINNATI -- No matter who makes up the Reds' pitching staff this season, it will be comprised of many young pitchers with high ceilings and unfinished development.

Reds manager Bryan Price, his pitching coaches and the front office wanted the team's young pitchers to be as prepared as possible heading into 2016, so for a few days in mid-January, the club assembled several of its prospects at the team complex in Goodyear, Ariz., for what was called a "pitching summit."

"It was a handful of guys. They said you've got a shot at making it sometime in 2016," said lefty Cody Reed, who was one of three left-handers acquired from the Royals for ace Johnny Cueto in July. "They wanted to get these guys out there, get a good look at them, talk to them, and we had a good time. We went to an ASU basketball game and saw a movie. It wasn't all baseball, and it was a really good time."

Injuries and trades decimated the depth of the Reds' pitching staff last season, particularly the rotation. Young pitchers were pressed into service, learned under duress and took some lumps for the first time in the big leagues.

Rookie pitchers started a Major League record 64 straight games to end the season, following Mike Leake's trade on July 28. The starting staff's record was 20-44 with a 4.62 ERA.

"We didn't pitch as well as I had hoped with that group of young guys," Price said.

Video: CHC@CIN: DeSclafani fans eight over five-plus frames

Price, pitching coach Mark Riggins and assistant pitching coach Mack Jenkins were on hand at the summit, as was veteran starting pitcher Homer Bailey. The young pitchers included Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, John Lamb, Keyvius Sampson, Reed, Robert Stephenson, Brandon Finnegan and Rookie Davis.

"We need to get them up to speed with the expectations, how we're going to get there, how to prepare and what we're about with the Reds at the big league level," Price said. "It was really intensive discussions about what is greatness, how do we achieve it, how do we gain consistency and unity, how do we connect as a group and push each other towards the ultimate goal of winning a World Series."

Since it was still mid-January, it was too early for bullpen mound sessions during the summit. The pitchers threw off flat ground, did their workouts and lifted weights. A couple of the meetings were led by Bailey, who will be the rotation's most-tenured starter when he returns from Tommy John surgery rehabilitation in May.

"It was awesome," said Davis, who was acquired from the Yankees in December's trade for closer Aroldis Chapman. "It was the first time I've met some of those guys and seen some of them play. I met [president of baseball operations] Walt Jocketty and was around Homer and some of the guys that played in the big leagues last year, the pitching coaches and everyone. The talent in the room was unquestionable."

Davis received his invitation to the summit a few days after being traded. He accepted immediately, and he was glad to attend.

"You could sense in the room the confidence with the process we're in," Davis said. "Guys are all on the same page, and ultimately, it's to win a championship and bring a trophy to Cincinnati. Every guy in that room was on board with it.

"Leaving there, I'm more fired up now than I was before. I worked with guys, saw their intensity and the passion for the game. And for the guys that have been there, you could see the passion for the city they play for. I've never experienced anything like that."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Cody Reed