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Reds rookie caps June with career-high 12 strikeouts

Top prospect solidifying himself in Cincinnati.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Before this season started we listed Tyler Mahle as the No. 4 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization, and the second-best pitching prospect behind Hunter Greene (No. 2). After a roller-coaster start to the season, going 3-6 with a 4.76 ERA and 8.59 K/9 through 11 starts, the former seventh round pick has shined for the Reds in the month of June.

Entering June, Mahle had allowed four or more earned runs in five of his 11 starts. Since then, six starts, the California native has not allowed more than three in a single outing. His success in June can largely be attributed to his ability to keep the ball in the yard. In April he allowed seven homers — he surrendered another six in the month of May. Since then he’s only allowed three balls to go over the fence.

On Saturday afternoon, facing the NL East-leading Milwaukee Brewers, Mahle recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts while allowing just one earned run over 5.2 innings. He leads all Major League rookies with 93 strikeouts this year. The biggest area of improvement for him at this point is going to be his command. He’s struggled with walks throughout his career — posting a 4.0 BB/9 over his first 21 big-league starts.

While thriving in the minors, posting significantly better K/BB ratios, the early book on Mahle has been spot-on.

4) Tyler Mahle, RHP, Grade B+: Age 23, seventh round pick in 2013 from high school in California, posted 2.06 ERA with 138/30 K/BB in 144 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, just 109 hits; posted 2.70 ERA in four major league starts, 14/11 K/BB in 20 innings; polished arm with four pitches: fastball generally 90-94, occasionally 95-96, has reportedly been clocked as high as 99; mixes in curve, slider, change-up; has a wide velocity band to work with, throws strikes, understands his craft; nothing left to prove in minors and should be a solid number three starter. ETA 2018.

According to Brooks Baseball, his fastball velocity is sitting 92-94, and he regularly keeps hitters on their toes. He’s fluctuated his fastball usage from 58% (April 2) to 78% (May 10). If he can gain consistent control of his breaking ball, where he has a 27% Swinging Strike %, Mahle could increase his position in the Reds rotation. At this point it’s safe to say that he’s a main-stay in Cincinnati for the rest of 2018.