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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

Cincinnati Reds Alternate Site Game: April 6, 2021

The Cincinnati Reds are currently playing some games with their alternate team against other alternate teams. Clay Snowden had a chance to attend one and gives a report.

Clay Snowden

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78 degrees with a few clouds in the sky was the perfect day for the perfect game of baseball. My first in person game since 2019. I never knew just how much I missed it until I experienced the sights of sounds of the game for what felt like the very first time (again). Enough about me, let’s talk about the game. The alternate site Reds (that’s what we will call them) took on the Royals on Tuesday night. I want to provide a recap of the pitching and hitting while highlighting a few players.

 

Pitchers:

Riley O’Brien started for the Reds. Acquired in the Cody Reed trade, O’Brien is an interesting pitcher with some obvious upside. He has a lot to like but can struggle to find the zone at times. He struck out Bobby Witt Jr (One of MLB top prospects) while causing him to whiff on back to back strikes. He also gave up 2 home runs, 4 hits 4 runs in 3 innings while striking out 5. At times he simply over powered hitters and at times they squared him up. I still like him as a possible bullpen guy at some point.

Claiborne Snowden on Twitter: “Riley O’Brien (@RileyyOBrienn ) striking out one of the best prospects in all of baseball Bobby Witt #Reds https://t.co/YVQOpuIKby” / Twitter

Brandon Finnegan, who came out of nowhere this spring and impressed, looked pretty solid tonight. Struck a guy out looking while allowing 1 hit in one inning. His breaking stuff had some life on it. Doolittle, Perez, and Garrett will make it tough for him to find innings, but if injuries happen he’s more than capable of filling in. What a great story his comeback is.

Finnegan was followed by uneventful innings from R.J. Alaniz, Edgar Garcia, Hector Perez, and Ryan Hendrix. Garcia was hit hard and hit often. Perez has a fastball that is noticeably faster than others, but the radar gun was not on. Hendrix really pops the catchers glove, but location was an issue.

Claiborne Snowden on Twitter: “Finnegan (thread) https://t.co/a8pYMq0JuI” / Twitter

Batters:

Mike Freeman, a utility infielder brought over from the Indians, provided the only real offense tonight with a home run off a LHP (Lynch) to right center. In my mind him, Blandino, and Schrock all are battling for the same “utility infielder” position. Schrock was quiet at the plate tonight.

Mark Payton had a decent night at the plate. I really like his eye for the strike zone and patience at the plate. He had a strong single up the middle and worked a count full on another at bat. He had a ton of balls hit to him in center and he covered a lot of territory well. One ball he tried to rob a HR and it hit off of him and went over the wall. From my vantage point it looked like he might have helped that ball go over.

Jose Garcia made solid contact in his two balls put into play. I am far from a swing expert, but his swing looked a little off tonight. Maybe a little slow? I don’t know. He also swung and missed several times. A full year in the minors will do him well.

Claiborne Snowden on Twitter: “@TooKold2 https://t.co/YJgnyWHl7Q” / Twitter

The last player that caught my eye was Alejo Lopez. The 24 year old switch hitting infielder just knows how to hit. He has logged over 1,000 minor league at bats and has a slash of .297/.367/.746. In his two at bats he made great contact one leading to a single up the middle and one a sharp lineout to end the game.

Claiborne Snowden on Twitter: “Alejo Lopez single. A player who isn’t listed as a super high prospect but has been producing https://t.co/FydDrk2kjd” / Twitter

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Cincinnati Reds

Eugenio Suarez at Shortstop Makes the Cincinnati Reds Very Interesting

The Cincinnati Reds have announced that Eugenio Suarez will start Tuesday’s game at shortstop which opens up so many possibilities that make the Reds lineup dangerous.

Jeff

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The Cincinnati Reds dropped a Geno-sized bomb on Reds Country and the result is mass excitement.

We are all aware of the swings-and-misses with free agent shortstops the Reds front office had this offseason. In fact they struck out, if you’re counting, as there were three bonafide shortstops who all went elsewhere. So we’ve spent all Spring Training squinting our eyes to see if we could maybe see the fringe possibility of someone on this roster playing shortstop. Then the Reds stopped pretending.

Coming into camp, Eugenio Suarez just looked different. He was way more fit, trim, cut, whatever word for in-shape you want to use. You could say he was in the best shape of his life (many have). Geno planned for this, and management noticed. They’re reportedly been giving him more practice reps at shortstop and getting him comfortable fielding back there again. You don’t do that just for kicks, they were on to something.

Then Jose Garcia showed a continued lack of confidence at the plate, Dee Strange-Gordon proved there was a reason he hasn’t played shortstop, exclusively, in eight years, and Kyle Holder showed some skills but ultimately proved he needs more seasoning. Kyle Farmer has shown promise at the plate but the defense isn’t any sort of revolutionary development and he still shows more value as the do-everything guy off the bench. Insert Suarez.

Immediately some of you are thinking “Isn’t there a reason they moved him away from shortstop in the first place?” You could go that route, but let me answer your question with a question “Is there really a good reason to keep Jonathan India, or dare I say Nick Senzel (when Shogo Aliyama is healthy) out of the starting lineup for Kyle Farmer, or any of the other options they’ve tried at shortstop?”

This is the Reds thinking outside the box! This opens up so many possibilities with the lineup. With injuries, this is what the Opening Day lineup could look like:

CF Nick Senzel
LF Jesse Winker
SS Eugenio Suarez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Nicholas Castellanos
2B Jonathan India
C Tyler Stephenson
1B Tucker Barnhart
Pitcher

I like that lineup. Now, there’s more than a chance that someone else plays first base and Tucker is the catcher on Opening Day, but this is the optimal lineup with Joey Votto on the COVID shelf. Once he is back, this lineup just looks dangerous:

CF Nick Senzel
LF Jesse Winker
SS Eugenio Suarez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Nicholas Castellanos
1B Joey Votto
2B Jonathan India
C Tyler Stephenson
Pitcher

Here’s hoping the Eugenio Shortstop experience lots all year long!

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Cincinnati Reds

Monday Morning Manager: The Cincinnati Reds and Things Being What They Are

David Bell has too many outfielders, or does he? An injury to Shogo Akiyama could make lineup decisions easier, but could hurt the overall team potential.

Jeff

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Today on the Monday Not-Morning Manager I want to look at how the chips fall. There’s a line of thinking in sports that pertains to rosters. If you’ve got four players for three spots and it’s hard to differentiate between them, something always works out. Something beyond the making of a lineup card happens that makes making the lineup card slightly easier (so far as filling the three spots). One wonders if this is what has happened with centerfield for the Cincinnati Reds. 

Shogo Akiyama had an encouraging September, last year. He got on base roughly 46% of the time and became the leadoff hitter that Reds fans felt he’d be when he signed. He showed his prowess in the outfield and sound fundamentals that lead you to believe he can be a defensive asset. He looked to be showing he could bring value to the lineup. 

Nick Senzel has had a heck of a Spring. Hitting the ball all over the field, taking what the pitcher gives him, and making solid, powerful contact. He’s overcome some early spring mishaps on defense and is back to his athletic range in centerfield. When healthy he has shown to be an asset for the team. Barring some creative decision-making on the part of David Bell, he’s going to play in the outfield, come he’ll or high water. 

So what then? Shogo and Senzel cannot both start of Nicholas Castellanos and Jesse Winker man the corners. How does David Bell figure this out? That may be taken off his plate. 

Today (Monday) Shogo is getting his left hamstring examined. He left Saturday’s game after just one at-bat. If he is to miss any amount of time, the decision who the Opening Day centerfielder will be will be easy, but this isn’t a statement of relief. The best version of the Cincinnati Reds lineup includes all of Shogo, Senzel, Castellanos, and Winker and you’ll have a hard time convincing me otherwise. I want Bell and the Reds managerial staff to find ways to get all four of them in the lineup as much as possible. Hopefully, Shogo is fine and Bell will begin the 2021 with too many players rather than too few.

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