In need of a bullpen arm, the Cincinnati Reds promoted rookie right-hander Drew Hayes to the major league roster yesterday. At age 28, Hayes is an older rookie and doesn't show up on the typical prospect list but he's shown signs of progress this spring: in major league camp he threw 11 innings giving up one run on seven hits, walking four with 15 strikeouts.
So who is this guy? Hayes was originally drafted in the 11th round out of Vanderbilt University back in 2010. At the time he was viewed as a guy with a live arm who needed to make significant command improvements but had a chance to be a good reliever at higher levels. That's been his profile in pro ball too: he spent more than three seasons ironing out his command in Double-A with Pensacola.
He finally moved up to Triple-A Louisville in 2015 and posted a 2.95 ERA in 58 innings, fanning 56 but with 30 walks.
Hayes is a classic power reliever, with a 92-95 MPH fastball and a moving slider. This is enough for him to be a successful middle reliever if he throws strikes, which he hasn't always done. The fact that he's just now getting to the majors at age 28 is both a negative (it took him a long time to work out his issues) and a positive (he has enough natural talent that the Reds didn't give up on him).
Hayes has flashed better control over the past year and did so again in spring training, but he also walked five in his first 4.1 innings in the regular 2016 season before yesterday's promotion; the command improvements aren't a sure thing just yet.