Boxberger Moving Closer For Reds

CINCINNATI—Brad Boxberger may not be at the top of the Reds' prospect list. But among players without big league experience, Boxberger is probably the one with the best chance to make the major league team out of spring training in 2012.

Boxberger, a 23-year-old righthander, had a 2.03 ERA this season while splitting time between the bullpens at Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville. In 62 innings, he allowed 32 hits, walked 28 and struck out 93.

Still, the Reds won't rush him. "He could probably use some more time at Triple-A," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "But he'll be invited to camp and he might surprise us."

Boxberger, a 2009 supplemental first-round pick out of Southern California, is pitching in the Arizona Fall League. He recorded his first save in his debut for Desert Dogs and did it in style—striking out all four batters he faced.

Boxberger began his pro career as a starter. He went 4-6, 3.19 in 13 starts at high Class A Lynchburg. He was moved to the bullpen upon his promotion to Carolina to keep his innings count down. He struggled there, going 1-4, 8.49 in 22 games.

"When they first made the switch, I definitely struggled," he said. "But once I figured it out, I realized it was 100 percent the right role for me. I'm very comfortable now. The biggest adjustment was the mentality.

Boxberger has eliminated his curveball since the move to bullpen. He throws a fastball, changeup and slider now. His velocity has picked up, now peaking in the upper 90s.

"As a starter, you have to prepare to throw 80 to 100 pitches. You can go all-out on every pitch in the bullpen."


• Outfielder Dennis Phipps was hitting .292/.414/.333 in 29 plate appearances this winter in the Dominican League.

• Lefthander Jeremy Horst, who made his big league debut in 2011 in Cincinnati's bullpen, had allowed one run in five innings in the Dominican League.