Let’s do something a bit different and examine a reliever instead of a starter. The scouts just checked out, but we are still looking at Evan Reifert.
- Born: May 14, 1999
- B/T: Right/Right
- 6’4″, 190-lbs
- Undrafted free agent signed by the Milwaukee Brewers after the 2021 MLB June Amateur Draft.
His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:
In 2021 he showed that the only thing holding him back was his walk rate. Otherwise batters had little chance.
In 2022 he pitched at three levels, and then in the Arizona Fall League, where the strikeouts remained plentiful, the walks were egregious, and the overall effect was mere dominance over the batters, not sheer annihilation. But was his journey in 2022 one where his walk rate got worse as the year went on? Nope:
That’s right, he began the season at Double-A for a handful of innings, and then when rookie leagues started up he was transferred there in June. Note how that awful (small sample) walk rate in Double-A was replaced by a more normal level the rest of the year. When you are putting up a K-BB% of close to 30% or more month after month, you are dominating.
Then in the pitching thin Arizona Fall League, Reifert is really standing out by striking out almost two-thirds of the batters he’s faced.
Handedness K% and BB%
Rookie (vs RH): 47%K and 13%BB. (vs LH): 70%K and 0%BB.
High-A (vs RH): 44%K and 8%BB. (vs LH): 32%K and 12%BB.
Let’s skip the three innings at Double-A, but it’s clear he can strike out anyone, and only his walks hold him back.
He’s a RP, so who cares, right? Well, the Tampa Bay Rays sure care since they use relievers in creative ways that often lead to fantasy success.
He needs to work on his control. But coming from a small school (University of Central Missouri), and going undrafted, means he hasn’t faced top batters all that much, so he is very much a work in progress. In other words, the scouts carry the day more than the results on the field at this early step.
And you know who traded for Reifert? The pitching-savvy Rays. Word to the wise.
Reifert is a big righty who is lethal on batters with his upper-90s fastball and his two-plane slider that is edging into elite territory. Even with his current control, he could strike out major leaguers. With improved control, and the Rays are known to work with pitchers to improve their skills, he could be a back of the bullpen weapon.
You heard it here first. Reifert could become fantasy valuable as soon as late 2023.