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Reds prospect Ben Lively mows down California League

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Ben Lively
Ben Lively
Getty Images

Cincinnati Reds pitching prospect Ben Lively is making mincemeat of the High-A California League. Last night he threw six shutout innings against Modesto, allowing one hit and one walk, fanning ten. The walk was the first free pass he's given up all year: through 23 innings over four starts, Lively has a 33/1 K/BB ratio. He's allowed eight hits total in those four starts, holding Cal League hitters to a .105 average.

I suggest you check Lively's availability if you are in a fantasy league with deep farm systems and long-term keepers.

Lively was a fourth round pick last June from the University of Central Florida. He was quite successful in college (2.04 ERA, 101/28 K/BB in 106 innings last spring) but lasted until the fourth round because his delivery is a bit unconventional. It adds deception though and helps his stuff (89-95 MPH fastball, solid curveball, slider, changeup) play up. He throws strikes obviously and has a good feel for changing speeds.

Here are two views of his delivery. The first was taken last week by Prospect Notes:

The second was taken a couple of years ago in the Cape Cod League and gives you the view behind home plate.

It looks to me like Lively has picked up a little size since the Cape Cod League; he was listed at 6-3, 180 then and is 6-4, 190 now.

He was too good for the Pioneer League after being drafted last year and looks too good for the Cal League right now. His current minor league career stats: 64 innings, 0.70 ERA, 89/14 K/BB ratio, one homer allowed, 39 hits allowed, 12.52 K/9, 1.97 BB/9.

While it is not unusual for college pitchers to dominate the low minors, few do it to this extent, and I'd have to expect that a promotion to Double-A could happen very quickly. Lively is not a smoke-and-mirrors guy; he has legitimate stuff and could be a number three starter at the big league level if he maintains this sort of command.

Don't sleep on this guy.