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What the Hell Ever Happened to…Brian Reith?

April 1, 2007 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
One-time Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Brian Reith has fallen off the radar.
We were able to find his jersey, but Brian Reith himself is MIA.

It’s time to dig through the archives once again to pull out another blast from the past and try to find out what the hell ever happened to Brian Reith.

A 1996 sixth-round pick by the Yankees out of an Indiana high school, Reith was never what you’d consider a top prospect, but he certainly opened some eyes with some excellent seasons in the New York system, including 2000 when he went 9-4, 2.18 with 100 Ks in 119 2/ innings at High-A.

He was intriguing enough to be considered a key component of the package that the Reds received when they shipped Denny Neagle to the Yankees in 2000.

The 6′5′ righty made his MLB debut in May of 2001, but many believe he was rushed to the majors, considering he had made only one start above Double-A before arriving in Cincinnati.

That certainly seemed to be the case when the young Reith was tattooed in his first taste of the Show, going 0-7, 7.81, with major control problems.

Reith remained in the minors the entire 2002 season, pitching as a starter with middling results. The Phils grabbed him off waivers in July, but the Reds snatched him right back in August. So they had big plans for him, right? Maybe not. The following season, Cincy converted him into a reliever, thereby negating much of his potential value.

He was superb in Triple-A as a reliever in 2003, and when the Reds gave him another look, Reith was decent, but again struggled with his command (36 walks, 39 strikeouts).

The following season, he received even less of a look, as his control starting really deteriorating, and with it, his results ‘ both in the majors and at Triple-A ‘ suffered badly.

He hasn’t pitched on a major league mound since, winding up with a 4-12 mark and an ERA of almost 6.00 in nine starts and 64 relief appearances spread out over three seasons with the Reds. The problem for Reith was pretty simple: 71 walks against 85 Ks, a stark contrast to his almost four-to-one K/BB ratio as a minor leaguer.

In 2004, Reith became a free agent and was signed by the Pirates, spending one mediocre season with their Triple-A team before becoming a free agent again in October 2005.

The Cubs signed him in February 2006, but he never pitched a day for them, assumedly missing the year with an injury, although none of my sources seem to know for sure. Clearly, he fell off the radar and in October, he became a minor league free agent.

Reith isn’t an old man, having just turned 29 last month. But assuming he never sees the light of day again, his current closest player comparison as per is Jeff McCurry, hardly what we expected of Reith when he was putting up excellent minor league numbers in the late-90s and early 00s.

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18 Responses to “What the Hell Ever Happened to…Brian Reith?”

  1. James Morris says:

    I am seeing a pattern here with Yankees prospects.

  2. RotoRob says:

    If the pattern is they get overhyped, that’s not really new. If the pattern is they don’t make it, that’s changing to an extent in more recent seasons.

  3. I was in high school with Brian (graduated the same year he pitched for us in the state finals). I agree that it’s unfortunate he hasn’t done more. He’s currently in the Independent League, pitching pretty well for the Somerset Patriots.

  4. RotoRob says:

    Thanks for the update, Kristopher. Much appreciated. Let’s hope Brian can find his way back to organized ball.

  5. JD says:

    I spent some time with Brian over the weekend. He played in Taiwan last year. He is hoping catch on with another big league team this season. He is fully recovered from shoulder surgery that held him out while with the Cubbies. He is between 89-93 MPH right now and feels strong.

  6. RotoRob says:

    Hey JD,

    Thanks for the update. Much appreciated. It would be great if Reith could make it back. Have any teams offered him a minor league deal or at least an invite to Spring Training? How did he do in Taiwan?

  7. Paul Havekotte says:

    Brian Reith is still my favorite pitcher because I graduated highschool with him in 96 from Concordia Lutheran Highschool. I moved to Florida soon after college but once flew to Milwakee to attend a game at Miller park–Brewers Reds and purchased tickets behind the visitor bullpen to heckle Reith about the crappy Beretta he drove in highschool with the fancy rims. Never saw him, was told he was in the minors. Was always hoping he would get signed on by the Rays so I could see him pitch in person. As you might expect, he was a stud in highschool but had a great humble demeanor. Good Luck Brian in whatever you do and wherever you pitch.

  8. RotoRob says:

    Hey Paul,

    Thanks for sharing your memories about Brian. The last word we had was that he spent the 2007 season between Indy ball and Taiwan, but I have no idea where he pitched this past season. However, Reith is currently pitching as a reliever in the Mexican Pacific League, and he’s doing very well, so maybe he’ll earn himself an invite to someone’s Spring Training.

  9. Scott says:

    Brian has signed with the Milwaukee Brewers (I believe a minor league contract) and is back from Mexico. He is fully recovered from his surgery and is hitting low to mid 90’s again. He is very excited about this year!

  10. RotoRob says:

    Hey Scott,

    That’s awesome, man! Thanks for the update. Let’s hope Brian can get another crack at the Show — that would make for a great story. Do you know if he got an invitation for Spring Training as well?


  11. Chad says:

    I believe Brian does have an invitation to Spring Training but I will have to check for sure. As the son of one of his high school coaches, we still try and get updates as much as we can. Hopefully things go his way this year and I can see him pitch against by beloved Cubbies.

  12. RotoRob says:

    Thanks, Chad. Definitely keep us posted!


  13. J says:

    I spoke to BRian Reith 3 days ago. He is heading to spring training in Arizona. He is excited about the upcoming year.

  14. RotoRob says:

    Thanks for the update, J.J. Reddick (by the way, the Magic SG spells his name ‘Redick’). Does Brian have a chance to stick in the organization? He was signed by the Brewers mid-season last year, correct? But I never heard what happened with that…as far as I can tell, he didn’t actually pitch in the minors in the Brewer org. Can you shed any light on that?


  15. Michael says:

    Brian is a pitching instructor for players ages 5-12 in Sarasota, FL.

  16. RotoRob says:

    Thanks for the update, Michael. Glad to hear Brian is still contributing to the game in some capacity.

  17. James says:

    Brian is still working with the young kids. For the next few weeks, he will be working with our little league kids in Parrish, FL. He definitely is very humble and an outstanding teacher of the game. The kids had a blast tonight with him and Tim Raines, Jr. who both were out at our fields. We couldn’t have asked for two more classy guys to teach out little leaguers.

  18. RotoRob says:

    Hi James,

    Thanks for the update about Brian. A few months ago, a reader let us know about this gig and I’m very glad to hear he’s still involved in the game and doing well. We’d love to hear from him and Tim, so feel free to ask them to pop in and say hello and let us know how they’re doing.


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