A new year looks like it means a new uniform for Ben Lively. Lively, a fourth round pick in the 2013 June Amateur Draft, had a breakout season in the Reds minor league system. He now joins the Phillies as the centerpiece in the trade for Marlon Byrd on New Year’s Eve.
Lively is a right-handed pitching prospect who stands at a towering 6’4” while weighing in at 190. At just 22 years old, he is very equipped with four pitches at his disposal. Known for a hard fastball and a deceptive slider, Lively has honed his curve and changeup into an arsenal that garnered him the number 8 overall prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system according to MiLB.com. He was once viewed as a bullpen arm on the major league level, however last season may have changed that.
Lively had a sensational season at Class A Bakersfield for the Reds. He went 10-1 with a 2.28 ERA. Back-to-back ten strikeout games helped him strikeout 95 over 79 innings, which surmounted to a sensational 10.8 K/9 ratio. Lively won consecutive Pitcher of the Week Awards in April and was named a mid-season All Star in the California League, a league more known for its power-happy hitters than its all star pitching.
The first half performance earned Lively a jump to Double-A Pensacola in the Southern League. While he wasn’t as sharp as he was at the lower level, he was still impressive. His record of 3-6 didn’t justify his second half stint, as he still posted a solid 3.88 ERA while striking out 76 over 72 innings. He was a bit more hittable at AA, as his batting average against rose from .201 at Single-A to .232 at Double-A, which in turn led to a .40 jump in his WHIP from 0.92 to 1.33. Despite the jump in numbers, Lively still had a tremendous season.
Now he heads to the Phillies, a team clearly looking to unload its elder statesmen and inject some youth into their system. The Reds 2014 organizational all-star will most likely be put on the fast track to the Phillies big league roster. The Reds have made quite a name for themselves in the past few years pumping out big league ready pitchers from their farm system like Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Tony Cingrani. The Phillies sure hope that Lively is the next in line.