Riefenhauser Earns Praise | The Process Report

Riefenhauser Earns Praise

Although C.J. Riefenhauser lacks the ceiling of Taylor Guerrieri, whom he replaced in last Sunday’s Futures Game, he’s a pitcher with an obvious big-league future.

Riefenhauser, now 23, was the Rays’ 20th-round pick in the 2010 draft. He came from Chipola College—the same school that produced another Tampa Bay prospect in Andrew Toles—and dominated the lower rungs of the minors. Riefenhauser’s minor-league statistics continue to impress, and a recent pair of scouting reports intermixed with his Sunday outing have added color to the picture.

Leading into Sunday’s game, Zach Mortimer wrote Riefenhauser “profiles best as a middle-innings reliever.” Riefenhauser then pitched a breezy eighth inning for the United States team, retiring the side in order. He showcased a low-90s fastball and spun a breaking ball that resulted in an out. His mechanics were simple: A small leg kick, an arm plunge, then release from a high three-quarters slot. On Thursday an anonymous scout weighed in, saying he “really likes Riefenhauser,” and adding, “He attacks with the fastball, and he can spin it, works down in the zone. He’s more than a situational guy, but lefties don’t stand much chance.”

The New York native may soon receive the opportunity to make good on the scout’s infatuation. Because Riefenhauser was 20 years old when he signed in 2010, he’ll be eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 draft. That means the Rays will need to add him to the 40-man roster or otherwise risk losing him. Riefenhauser would need to stick on a 25-man roster for the season’s duration for that scenario to come to fruition, yet that seems more likely now than it did a few months ago.

However unheralded Riefenhauser was when he entered the system, it appears the Rays’ scouting and developmental departments have helped turn him into a big-league pitcher in waiting.

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