Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Mahle not your typical young hurler

Reds love that righty 'more evolved' than normal 23 year olds
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As a kid growing up in Southern California, Reds pitcher Tyler Mahle liked to do his own thing. That included playing baseball with two older brothers in the same house.

One of Mahle's brothers, Greg, is a lefty pitcher in the Angels' system.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As a kid growing up in Southern California, Reds pitcher Tyler Mahle liked to do his own thing. That included playing baseball with two older brothers in the same house.

One of Mahle's brothers, Greg, is a lefty pitcher in the Angels' system.

Reds' Spring Training information

"They'd go out and hit in the cage in our backyard. And I wouldn't go out there," Mahle explained. "Then, once they came in, I would go out there by myself and hit off the tee. I was a young kid. I don't know why. I've always been like that, just to myself, doing my own thing."

That's not unlike Mahle's life in the Reds' clubhouse filled with several young pitchers. Though many players are outgoing or chatty, the 23-year-old right-hander is often content to sit quietly at his locker and not draw much attention.

However, Mahle has stuff from the mound that's been hard not to notice for Cincinnati. He is competing with Sal Romano, Michael Lorenzen and Robert Stephenson -- among others -- for a spot in the rotation.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I think he's just more evolved than most pitchers his age. Fastball command, sometimes, is that last thing to show up. It's unusual for it to be the first thing," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Usually the first two things that show up when you sign a young pitcher [are] arm strength and a good breaking ball. He showed up with really good fastball command, some good deception and an evolved feel for pitching.

"Considering his age, he doesn't have a lot of contemporaries in that regard for such a young, inexperienced pitcher."

Mahle is the fifth-ranked Reds prospect, according to MLBPipeline, and No. 84 overall. Of the pitchers vying for the rotation, he has the least experience.

In four 2017 big league starts, Mahle posted a 2.70 ERA and 1.50 WHIP after he had a 2.06 ERA and .96 WHIP in 24 starts and 144 1/3 innings combined at Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville.

Mahle felt his numbers were a little deceptive in the big leagues. He put a lot of runners on base with 19 hits and 11 walks in 20 innings while striking out 14.

"I wasn't efficient at all. I would like that to change," Mahle said. "My go-to is being efficient and eating up innings. But I was able to get out of a lot of jams, mainly using my fastball. Once the consistency with the changeup and slider come around and I'm able to throw them for strikes, the efficiency will come."

Video: Mahle named Reds' Pipeline pitcher of the year

For Mahle, consistency begins with command of his four-seam fastball. According to Statcast™, it was the pitch he used 65 percent of the time in his Major League outings. He got swings 43 percent of the time as it averaged 93 mph.

While Luis Castillo, Romano or Lorenzen are typically power pitchers able to consistently reach the high 90s mph, Mahle varies the velocity of his fastball.

"There are times that he's above 95 and times where he'll drop it down below 90," Price said. "His velocity bracket on his fastball is typically anywhere from 86-96. And that's intentional. Adding and subtracting velocity kind of lends itself to the point that he's more evolved than most."

Mahle pitched two perfect innings of relief on Tuesday vs. the Brewers and struck out three. He is next scheduled to pitch out of the bullpen on Sunday vs. the Royals. This is his first big league camp with a job at stake, but he isn't changing his approach.

"I'm going about it the same, doing what I know how to do and going out there and competing," Mahle said. "I'm just working on my stuff and making sure I am ready for the season."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Tyler Mahle