Top 30 Cincinnati Prospects: No. 18

Wando Looking to Debut at High-A

Drew Cisco's career took an unfortunate turn when he underwent Tommy John surgery before he threw his first professional pitch. In 2013 he completed his first full minor league season and thus far has lived up to a reputation and a highly-polished pitching prospect for his age. He will see if he can maintain consistency as he advances this year to high-A Bakersfield.

Drew Cisco is coming off a respectable season at Dayton where he kept his ERA under four while leading the Dragons in innings pitched. Early in the year it appeared like he might force an early promotion when he was keeping a low-three ernie while allowing more than three runs in only two of his first ten starts. He got roughed up in June to inflate his stats, but then came back in July by allowing one run or less in three of his four appearances in that month. Overall his consistent performance could be considered in line with expectations coming into the campaign.

Cisco entered the Reds organization out of Wando (SC) High School from a sixth round selection in the 2010 draft. Unfortunately he was late getting minor league experience because he underwent Tommy John surgery before throwing his first pitch against professional competition. He had an impressive short season at Billings in 2012 and now at the age of 22 he appears headed for the high-A Bakersfield.

It's no surprise that Cisco has been able to advance because he was considered a polished pitcher right out of high school. Being the grandson of long time pitching coach Galen Cisco likely had something to do with that. Thus far in two professional seasons he averaging slightly over one walk per every nine innings pitched. He's not expected to be a particularly high strikeout pitcher, but he's fanned nearly seven hitters per nine over that time and the low walk rate inflates his K/BB over six.

He's not overpowering on the mound, offering a low-90's fastball, but he does have good command of his curve and changeup. He also knows how to keep the ball on the ground and keeps his ground/air outs ratio over one.

His stature (5'11"/200#) is a bit smaller than what teams like to see with their starting pitchers, but he's been consistent and there's no reason to pull him out of the rotation right now. That is the main thing that limits his projection to a mid-rotation pitcher at the MLB level. However, even though he may not have as high a ceiling as some other prospects, he's one of the safer bets to make it to the highest level eventually.

Cisco's age was average for his level last season and he's overcome his injury to return to a decent schedule for advancing. He will face an added challenge that finesse pitchers encounter in the high-altitude California League venues this season. Still, his command should continue to allow him to be effective against hitters at that level despite the thin air.

Don't be surprised to see Cisco bringing in another sub-four ERA in 2014 and he could possibly get a trip to Pensacola before the end of the season. After using caution with him earlier he was allowed to stretch out deeper into games last year and it appears the surgery is behind him. Though he probably won't make and huge move upwards, Cisco should remain on this list a year from now as he continues to be one of the higher rated pitching prospects in the Cincinnati organization.

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