The Cincinnati Reds acquired left-handed pitcher David Holmberg from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade that sent veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan to the Tampa Bay Rays on Dec. 3, 2013.
It was a move that not only showed the importance of young pitching to the Reds organization, but also showed the trust that General Manager and President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty has in 25-year-old catcher Devin Mesoraco.
"Devin Mesoraco will have the opportunity to become a front-line catcher for us," Jocketty said in December. "Holmberg provides us with the quality pitching depth that every team needs."
Holmberg, 22, was originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the second round of the June 2009 first-year player draft, but was involved in a trade with the Diamondbacks that sent pitcher Edwin Jackson to Chicago prior to the 2010 trade deadline.
He spent the 2013 season with the Double-A Mobile BayBears and posted a 5-8 record with a 2.75 ERA in 26 starts for the club - earning himself Southern League All-Star honors - and also made his Major League debut in an emergency appearance against the San Diego Padres on Aug. 27.
The beefy left hander is currently rated by MLB.com as the eighth-best prospect in the Reds organization and ended last season as the 10th-best left-handed pitching prospect in all of baseball. They had this to say about Holmberg in their preseason scouting report:
"Holmberg has the chance to have four average or better pitches with good command of all of them. He works quickly and goes right after hitters, working both sides of the strike zone with his solid average sinking fastball. His fading changeup is an above-average offering and he throws both a tight biting curve and short, cutting slider. With good mechanics and size, he should be ready for the middle of the rotation very soon."
Holmberg is currently on the Reds' 40-man roster and is scheduled to report to Goodyear, Ariz., with the rest of the club's pitchers and catchers on Friday, Feb. 14, but all signs point to him beginning the 2014 season with the Triple-A Louisville Bats.
However, that's not to say Louisville is where he'll stay, particularly with the health issues surrounding a few members of the Reds' starting rotation - namely Johnny Cueto (oblique/shoulder), Mat Latos (elbow) and Tony Cingrani (back) - and the uncertainty of Homer Bailey's future with the team.
"You like to have a young guy like Holmberg who the Major League club can look at and ask, 'Is this guy going to pitch for us some day in the big leagues?'" second-year manager of the Bats Jim Riggleman said in his preseason press conference on Monday, Jan. 27.
In an effort to supply the Reds pitching staff with more insurance, Jocketty and company also signed veteran pitchers Chien-Ming Wang and Jeff Francis to minor league contracts with Spring Training invitations this offseason. With a combined 364 Major League appearances between the two, Wang and Francis certainly appear to be the more immediate solution if an injury were to occur. But with little success in the recent past, there are questions surrounding whether or not the 33-year-old veterans can return to form.