SoxProspects News

August 3, 2021 at 8:08 PM

Scouting Scratch: Josh Winckowski, Durbin Feltman and Denyi Reyes


Over the past few weeks, I have traveled to see Portland and Worcester in person. This
is the second of several scouting notebooks breaking down what I’m seeing and hearing
about Red Sox prospects, starting with the Portland pitchers.

Right-hander Josh Winckowski has been one of the better Red Sox pitchers in the upper minors this year, opening eyes after he was left unprotected in the 2020 Rule 5 draft, then traded to the Mets and ultimately the Red Sox this past offseason. Recently, I got my first look at him in person and came away impressed. Winckowski has a strong, physical frame and looks all of his listed 6-4, 215 pounds. His fastball sat 94-96 mph in the first two innings before settling in at 92-94 mph. He does not try to miss bats with the fastball, but rather uses it to generate weak contact and get quick outs. He has solid control of it and does a good job keeping it out of the middle of the zone.

His slider is Winckowski’s bat-missing pitch. He throws it 82-86 mph and has advanced feel and confidence in it. He will throw it in any count and showed the willingness to throw it to—and ability to get swinging strikes against—hitters from both sides of the plate. The shape of the pitch varies some—sometimes showing more vertical, deep break, others coming in harder with more tilt—and this seems to be a deliberate choice to manipulate the velocity and shape depending on the hitter he is facing.

Winckowski’s third pitch—a changeup at 89-91 mph—is interesting. It is very hard for a
changeup but shows late drop and still has clear delineation from his fastball despite it having
minimal separation velocity-wise. Sometimes it can get on the firm side, but it can be an
effective pitch when sequenced correctly. Long-term, there is not a clear consensus about how
the pitch will develop. I have heard grades on it range from below-average to above-average,
and the development of that pitch will be key for Winckowski to stick as a starter.

Winckowski’s long-term role is up in the air, with opinions differing depending on who you talk
to. Some evaluators think he could develop into a back-end starter, while others see more of a
bulk relief type. His inability to miss bats with pitches other than his slider is concerning, as he
currently only has a 7.40 K/9 in Portland, but in bursts he has shown the ability to miss bats.
Regardless, Winckowski has the look of a future major league pitcher and his future role will be
determined as he moves through the system.

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When he was drafted in the third round in 2018, there was an expectation that right-hander Durbin Feltman would move quickly and likely be established in the Major Leagues by now. Instead, after his quick rise to High-A in 2018 slowed significantly in Double-A in 2019, he was just recently promoted to Worcester. His development has been far from linear, as his stuff dropped off considerably in 2019 as he struggled in Portland and was still down in Spring Training 2020 prior to the shutdown. His velocity was back some in the Fall Instructional League in 2020, but was still down compared to where he was after signing.

This year, Feltman’s stuff is similar to what it was last fall, in that it is better but not back to where it was in 2018. In a recent outing, his fastball sat 93-94 mph, and was on the straight side
with average life and below-average command. His best pitch was his slider at 84-87 mph. The pitch showed two-plane movement and hard break. It has the potential to become an above- average pitch that will miss bats. Feltman also has a vertical curveball at 80-82 mph. His two breaking balls are two distinct pitches when at their best, but on occasion he seems to get in between the two.

Feltman’s stuff is good enough to play at the major league level, but likely not in the role once
imagined. He has the upside to develop into a middle reliever, but no longer seems like the
potential late-inning option he did back when he debuted. He is not a lock to be added to the
40-man roster this off-season, when he becomes Rule 5 eligible, but if his stuff comes back
further, that could change.

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Right-hander Denyi Reyes was once a surprise addition to the Red Sox 40-man roster after an impressive 2018 season, but he was designated for assignment and cleared waivers during the
2019-20 off-season, having looked underwhelming at the Double-A level. Reyes is once again putting up solid numbers this year, with 43 strikeouts to 6 walks in 40 1/3 innings in mostly long relief with a couple of starts and a couple of short relief outings, but he still projects as a solid organizational swingman with the ceiling of an up-and-down emergency arm.

Reyes is a scout’s dream when it comes to his pitching style, working extremely quickly and always looking to attack hitters. Even though he is 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, he tops out around
just 90 mph. None of his five pitches grade out higher than average, but he has strong pitchability and feel on the mound, doing a good job mixing his offerings. In a recent outing, he
featured a fastball at 88-90 mph, cutter at 84-86 mph, slider at 80-82 mph, curveball at 72-73 mph, and changeup at 81-82 mph. He can locate all five pitches and offers hitters many different looks, with pitches in four different velocity bands. Though he is unlikely to ever be a long-term major leaguer, Reyes will play professional baseball for a long time given the way he pitches, and is the type of arm every organization could use in their systems.

Photo Credit: Josh Winckowski, Durbin Feltman and Denyi Reyes by Kelly O'Connor.

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.

 
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