Less than 24 hours after finding out he had been traded to the Royals, essentially being told 'psyche' and then being asked to pitch for the Reds one last time, Johnny Cueto has actually been traded to the Royals. Allegedly, the deal fell through because of a medical issue on the Royals' side of things, but at least Cueto was granted some time to picture himself in a Royals uniform before it became a reality.
The Reds' Cueto era draws to an end and I'm sure he will be remembered fondly by his Cincinnati fans. As a pitcher who consistently out-performs his FIP, Cueto is an interesting case because he'll now gets to play in front of one of the best defenses in baseball, and for the remainder of his contract year no less.
BABIP God Johnny Cueto now gets the Royals defense.— Beyond the Box Score (@BtBScore) July 26, 2015
Of the prospect package heading to the Reds, Brandon Finnegan is presumably the most MLB-ready. After pitching seven innings in the major leagues last season (13 including the post-season), Finnegan had proven himself to be a more-than-useful candidate for the Royals. In his seven regular season innings Finnegan's FIP was 0.70. If I could put numbers in caps lock, those would be. Since then, however, Finnegan has lost some of the magic despite an incredibly low BABIP. His walk rate has increased to a wild 4.8/9 but there's no reason to think he couldn't get his command back with a change of scenery.
John Lamb is definitely the wild card of the haul. After ranking #18 in the all-MLB Baseball America list following the 2010 season, Lamb has fallen past #11 in the Royals system alone. Since 2012, Lamb has spent 248 innings in AAA and, during this season's campaign, has started to show some maturity. In 94 innings, Lamb has struck out 96 batters. His strand rate and WHIP remain slightly above average, yet his FIP is 3.57. mlb.com expected him to arrive this season, and that could still be a possibility for the newly-25-year-old. It should be noted that Steamer projects him to arrive for four innings this season. To be fair, he has been given the call when rosters expanded for a double-header, but has yet to make his official debut. Expect his presence by 2016, especially if he can keep up his recent performance.
The final left-hander in the deal is 22-year old Cody Reed. Ranked #26 by MLB.com and #28 in Baseball America's lists of Royals prospects, Reed is still a raw prospect who is a long way from the majors, expected to arrive by 2018. That doesn't stop scouts from swooning over his plus fastball though. Currently spending time at AA, Reed's walk rates are low, but so too are his strikeout rates. After stabilizing his strand rate in High-A to start the season, it is back to a below average 61.7 percent in AA. It's much too early to make any claims on his future -- no matter which direction -- but Reds fans shouldn't expect to see his name on a major league lineup card for quite some time.
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Michael Bradburn is a Featured Writer for Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @mwbii, or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org