When thinking about prospects to highlight and research, I’m always looking for under the radar players that have been in the system for at least 3 years. It always helps if the player is making news lately with winter leagues or player movement. To me at least, it always seems like Adam Reifer is very under hyped. He is ranked highly in the prospect rankings, but not a lot of pundits are talking about him. Now that he is a member of the Cardinals 40-man roster, this ends now.
Adam Reifer was drafted in the 11th round of the 2007 MLB draft out of UC Riverside. He had been a relief pitcher his entire college career, but was limited to less than 10 innings his junior year due to injury. The Cardinals took a flyer on him and he signed, but did not play the rest of the 2007 season as he rested and rehabbed his injury.
In 2008, he was assigned to rookie short season team Batavia. He lead the Muckdogs to the NY-Penn League Championship, including closing out the Championship game. He earned that right through a great season. His strikeouts per 9 innings was 12.16 and his strikeout to walk was 2.73. So, he was striking out 2.73 times as many players as he was walking. He had 22 saves in the short season. He was absolutely dominating in Batavia and rightfully earned a leap up to Palm Beach for the 2009 season.
The rest of Adam’s career after the jump and a GIF of his mechanics.
Here’s a animated GIF in slow motion of Reifer’s throwing motion.
In Palm Beach, he was not as dominating, but still another good season in the closer’s role. His K/9 dropped to around 9, but his K/BB was still over 2 as he was still striking out 2 times as many batters as he walked. For another look at this stat, he was striking out 22.1% of the batters he faced. 17.1% on swinging strikeouts, which is great news for Reifer moving forward as he is able to get swinging strikes. His BABIP was high at 3.62, which is 100 points higher than Batavia and he was still able to have a lot of success, thanks to the strikeouts. His performance got him moved up to Springfield for 2010.
In Springfield, Reifer was the closer again and had an even more dominating year in a league that is much more hitter friendly than his year in Palm Beach. His K/9 dropped slightly, but his walks dropped off the face of the earth and he had a K/BB ratio of 3.47. He was still striking out around 22% of the batters he faced, but the lack of walks put him in the dominant category. His FIP for the year in Springfield was 2.70. Compared to Palm Beach, he forced more ground balls and less fly balls and induced more infield pop-ups. He was called up at the very end of the season to Memphis and pitched 1 inning.
He sits pretty average as far as ground ball vs. fly ball ratio is concerned and he’s above average as far as getting strikeouts. If he can keep the walks as low as in Springfield, he will increase his projection going forward. As AZ showed, his projection is a set up reliever and he can be slightly too hitable at times. But, with the ability to miss bats, he is certainly a MLB-caliber reliever late in games and now that he is on the 40 man roster, he is ever more of an asset to the senior club. If there are any injuries in the bullpen, Reifer will be on the Memphis to STL shuttle to keep fresh arms in the bullpen. He’s solidly in the MLB bullpen in 2012, but should be an asset this season.