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Cincinnati Reds

Non-Roster Invitee Breakdown

Clay Snowden

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© Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

An unseasonably warm January has everyone thinking of spring and giddy for the return of baseball. The Reds recently released the initial non-roster invitees list. These are players that are invited to spring training who are not currently on the 40 man roster. Typically consisting of veterans looking for a second, third, fourth chance or promising prospects any player must be added to the 40 man roster to be on the opening day roster.

Here are the hopeful names looking to crack the club: (# of MLB games played in parentheses)

PITCHERS:
R.J. Alaniz (12)
David Carpenter (222)
Vladimir Gutierrez
Nick Lodolo
Alex Powers
Brooks Raley (14)
Tyler Thornburg (185)
CATCHERS:
Chris Okey
Francisco Pena (86)

INFIELDERS:
Christian Colon (150)
Matt Davidson (273)
Jose Garcia
Jonathan India
Alfredo Rodriguez

OUTFIELDERS
Stuart Fairchild
Boog Powell (59)

Cincinnati has one of the strongest rotations in the MLB. Cracking the rotation is near impossible without a few injuries. Gutierrez (Prospect #11) and 2019 seven overall pick Nick Lodolo (Prospect # 2) are the two current starters listed. Both are likely to start in the minors. Lodolo struck out 30 batters in only 18.1 innings in 2019. Gutierrez struggled early in AAA but still has a high upside.

Every MLB team is looking to strengthen their bullpen. Tyler Thornburg showed flashes of excellence in Milwaukee a few years back but after two rough years in Boston he is looking to bounce back now reunited with pitching coach Derek Johnson. Carpenter has bounced around with decent success but has not been consistent. Alex Powers has been great in the minors. 1.98 ERA with 33 K’s in 27.1 innings with Louisville is promising. Raley is the lone lefty who hasn’t pitched in the MLB since 2013. He returns to the states after pitching Korea since 2015. Raley, Josh Smith, Cody Reed, and potentially others will be battling for the other lefty spot.

Organizational catching depth is slim. Okey was a 2016 second-round pick who has not hit at any level thus far. Pena has had a few cups of coffee and carved out a role with the Cardinals in 2018. Pretty much this year’s Juan Graterol. A veteran who can be an insurance policy if needed.

Infield depth, especially shortstop, is not a strength of the Reds. Kyle Farmer and Alex Blandino are the current options. Neither are really shortstops. Christian Colon was a 2019 September all up and former Royals World Series hero. With Louisville he hit .300/.372/.443 with 10 HR and 24 stolen bases while playing mostly third but appearing at first, second, and short. Davidson has hit over 20 home runs twice with the White Sox. 33 bombs and 101 RBI last season in AAA was impressive. His struggles with strikeouts have always been an issue. A third/first basemen he is blocked for a starting role, but a bench bat is still a possibility. Garcia (prospect #9), India (Prospect #3), Rodriguez (prospect #18) will likely all start in the minors. Garcia has a huge upside as a middle infielder and is a name to remember. India plays third and has been in plenty of trade rumors. 2019 is a pivotal year for the 2018 5th overall pick. What position he projects with the Reds is still up in the air. Rodriguez was solid in AA but struggled in AAA in his 77 at-bats but is known more for his glove.

The Reds have approximately 392 outfield options for 2020. The two players listed would be a huge surprise to make the team. Fairchild (prospect #16) hit .264/.352/.441 across A+ and AA in 2019. A smooth fielding centerfielder is always great to have in the organization. The less popular of the two Boog Powell’s, this Boog comes over to the Reds after 59 games with the Athletics and Mariners. In 2019 he hit .288/.391/.438 and stole 14 bases. Another centerfield option for the minors.

Jose Iglesias and Derek Dietrich were the non-roster lottery tickets last season. With the rotation set, catching set, and a crowded outfield infield depth and bullpen arms have the best shot to earn a roster spot. Seeing how it will all play out will be interesting. Pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.

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Cincinnati Reds

Who’s the Reds Third Best Pitcher?

The third best pitcher on the Reds in 2020 will not be who you are thinking.

Clay Snowden

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© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Castillo, Gray, Bauer, DeSclafani, and Miley. A deep, veteran, proven rotation which, on paper, makes the Reds the NL Central favorites. You can argue over who the “Ace” is, but who cares. Gray and Castillo both showed incredible stuff each earning an all-star bid. Miley brings a lefty to the rotation while Bauer brings the big name on a contract year. However, the one pitcher that doesn’t have an all-star appearance on his resume is the one to keep an eye on. I think Anthony DeSclafani will be the third best pitcher behind Castillo and Gray.

In 2019, Anthony DeSclafani had a healthy season. Coming off a promising 2016 (3.28 ERA 130 ERA+), Disco missed the entire 2017 season and only pitched in 21 games during the 2018 campaign. With how fantastic Gray/Castillo pitched and the splash trade that landed Bauer, DeSclafani’s season flew under the radar. 2.6 War 3.89 ERA 117 ERA + 167 K’s in 31 starts pitching 166.2 innings. His last 8 starts he pitched to the tune of a 2.39 ERA. Just a lucky year? I don’t think so. DeSclafani has mentioned before how much working with pitching coach Derek Johnson has helped him. Now more of a veteran, coming off a healthy season and having another healthy offseason with DJ, just how good could DeSclafani be?

According to Baseball Reference Disco’s projections:
9-9 4.35 ERA 1 Sv (?) 155 innings 154 K’s

Zips projection: 1.6 (Bauer 3.8, Castillo 3.9, Gray 3.2, Miley 1.1)

First off, win loss record for a pitcher means absolutely nothing. However, I do think DeSclafani will set a career high in wins, which is 9 (9 wins 3 different times). Last season, his first with Derek Johnson, Disco set a career high in strikeouts while pitching 18 fewer innings than his career high in innings. Contrary to many pitchers, he pitched pretty well at GABP.

Home: 6-4 3.50 ERA 82.1 in 71 hits 86 K’s
Away: 3-5 4.27 ERA 84.1 in 80 hits 81 K’s

A healthy 2020 while pitching in a contract year is important. Earning $5,900,000 at 30 years old it is crucial for DeSclafani to pitch well and set himself up for another contract and payday before he gets older. If he can continue to build off last season and take a step forward the Reds could be around a 90 win team in 2020.

*Random stat: DeSclafani’s 2019 117 ERA+ is higher than Bauer’s ERA+ in 7 of his 8 seasons.*

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Cincinnati Reds

Bounce Back and Breakout: Outfield

Looking to the outfield for a bounce back and a breakout candidate.

Clay Snowden

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© Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

10 outfielders. TEN?!?!? On the 40-man roster? Well, let’s try to unpack this obscurity. The offseason started with a quick trade to acquire Travis Jankowski which has turned into the safety option after the Reds hit big on their free agent targets. Mark Payton was selected in the Rule 5 as a long shot to make the roster. Scott Schebler is still around and apparently healthy. Don’t forget he once hit 30 home runs but more recently hit .123/.253/.222. VanMeter is probably projected more as an infielder especially with the new additions. Ok, so now that we have trimmed the fat, we are left with the big question mark in Aquino, hits LHP Ervin, often injured Senzel, RHP only Winker, and the big free agents Akiyama and Castellanos. With at bats limited, who will bounce back and who will break out?

Bounce Back: Nick Senzel
Honorable Mention: Aristides Aquino

No one has ever questioned the talent. There’s a reason Senzel was drafted high and appeared at the top of prospect list. The issue has been health. Not to beat a dead horse, but he’s struggled to stay on the field. Once he arrived on the scene in May, Senzel hit .279/.347/.468 with 4 home runs 5 doubles and 2 triples. Those numbers started to slip and Turner Ward changing his batting stance didn’t help. Injuries once again were an issue. How Senzel will be used in 2020 is up for debate. Everyday centerfielder? Second if Suarez is injured? Super utility? Who cares, the most important thing is to get Senzel healthy, find a comfortable batting stance, and get him at bats. A season (well, 104 games) under his belt should help. Many rookies struggle. Hell, Mike Trout batted .220 in his first year (40 games). Senzel won’t be Trout, but if he can hit around .280, which I think he can, this team could catch fire in and take the division.

Baseball Reference Projection: .260/.324/.445 14 HR 10 SB 20 2B (These seem low to me)

Breakout: Shogo Akiyama
Honorable Mention: Phillip Ervin

The first Japanese player in Reds history comes with high expectations. Although a rookie, Akiyama will be 32 years old and has proven himself in Japan. Hitting 20 home runs or more the past three seasons while hitting over .300 and an OBP of .398, .403, .392 should cause fans to drool over what he could be. Many question if he can be a centerfielder in the MLB but the Reds think he’ll hold his own. Adjusting to the new country and a new league could lead to a slow start. Many assume he has an elite eye for the strike zone due to his OBP, but Akiyama has never walked more than he strikes out. Not many players do, we as fans have been spoiled with Votto doing just that a few seasons in his career (APPRECIATE VOTTO). Frankly, I couldn’t care less how he gets on base as long as he is on base. I think Akiyama will be a crucial part of the team’s success in 2020.

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Cincinnati Reds

2020 Offseason Compared to Others

This offseason is definitely the best the Reds have had in the last decade.

Clay Snowden

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© Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

$165 million dollar SPLASH offseason’ s are not common in Cincinnati. After years and years of subpar rosters and uninspiring managing, the Reds started to focus on the future last offseason with a few big moves. Sonny Gray was brought in help the top of the rotation while Puig in friends were brought in to jazz up the lineup. At least one worked. 2019 offseason has built a solid foundation for the years to come. If you thought that was exciting, 2020 blew it out of the water.
So, let’s run down some previous offseason’s. Here are some of the players the Reds acquired via free agency and trades:

2010: Chapman, Arredondo, Orlando Cabrera

2011: Ramon Hernandez and Edgar Renteria

2012: Mat Latos, Sean Marshall, Ryan Madson, Dioner Navarro, Ludwick, JJ Hoover, Wilson Valdez

2013: Jumbo Diaz, Broxton, Choo, Hannahan, Cesar Izturis

2014: Tim Adleman, Skip Schumaker, Jason Bougeois, Trevor Bell, Ramon Santiago

2015: Ivan De Jesus, Ramon Cabrerra, DeSclafani, Suarez, Marlon Byrd, Jason Marquuis, Burk Badenhop

2016: Blake Wood, Brandon Allen, Tim Melville, Schebler and Peraza, Alfredo Simon, Dan Strailey

2017: Stuart Turner, Josh VanMeter, Drew Storen, Luis Castillo, Scott Feldman, Arroyo, Scooter

2018: Kevin Quackenbush, Mason Williams, Phil Gosselin, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez, Cliff Pennington

2019: Tanner Roark, Farmer/Puig/Kemp/Wood, Sonny Gray, Derek Dietrich, Jose Iglesias

*gulps* WHEW

Man, that 2014-2018 was bad. The good players acquired were prospects. Obviously, during a rebuild that is what you do. But the MLB “talent” that was signed, well, yikes! (A couple of good players, I am being harsh.) The front office had no plans for winning. That is just how rebuilds work. But, you can see the foundation being built. The prospects take a few years and 2018 was the first aggressive push in years. The Reds window for success is now. By going out and signing offensive players in Moose and Castellans to pair with OBP machine Akiyama the city of Cincinnati is ready for excitement. Lack of spending has been the gripe of patrons each offseason. They were finally silenced. Interestingly, previous improvements had been made via trade, mostly. The opposite happened this offseason with signing talent and holding on to future assets. What do we make of that? I’m not really sure. Does it say the Reds have something up their sleeve to pull off a spring training trade? Could be. Too many outfielders will have to play itself out. Although this offseason has been the biggest yet, it’s possible it’s not even over yet.

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