The Louisville Bats released their initial roster on Tuesday, April 2. It currently sits heavy with 28 players meaning changes to get to 25 will be made before the season starts in Toledo on April 4th. The roster consists of 18 players with major league experience including familiar names like Ervin, Trahan, Reed, Romano, and headlined by Reds top prospect Nick Senzel. I wanted to take some time to breakdown the rosters position groups and help the fans know the players and who could be in Cincinnati.
(Names in Italics are on the Reds 40-man roster)
Catchers: Juan Graterol and Chris Okey
Graterol’s strong spring (.381 avg 6 RBI) might have some fans remembering his name. His 13 years in the minors provide the experience needed to help the young catcher Okey while also helping with the pitching staff. Okey was the second-round pick in 2016 out of Clemson. The 24-year-old out of Florida has struggled with the bat sitting right at the Mendoza line of .200 avg in his young career. The Reds still have hope for him, but he will have to show improvements with Reds #6 overall prospect (mlb.com) Tyler Stephenson in AA Chattanooga.
Infielders: Christian Colon, Hernan Iribarren, Sherman Johnson, Brian O’Grady, Blake Trahan, Josh VanMeter
A group with several veterans, Colon has the most MLB experience playing in 142 games. Colon can play a few positions and is a career .283 minor league hitter. Sherman Johnson was signed on after a cup of coffee with the Angels. Mostly a second and third baseman that will provide competition positionally. Brian O’Grady had a monster bounce back year with Louisville/Pensacola turning a .185 avg. in 2017 to a .280 avg. (.306 in AAA) with a total of 14 HR . A first basemen and outfielder, O’Grady will look to build upon his strong 2018 to see if he can find a role with the Reds. Blake Trahan is a slick-fielding shortstop who earned some September time with the Reds last season. He is the only Bats infielder on the Reds 40-man roster and with Alex Blandino still injured Trahan could earn the first call up. (Expect a rehab assignment from Blandino with the Bats). Josh VanMeter played outfield and third for the Bats last season and hit 11 homers and 45 RBI. He should provide some pop and positional versatility. Hernan Iribarren is one of my favorite Bats player of all time. First appearing in a Bats uniform in 2014 he has provided veteran leadership each year since. I was surprised to see him back this season but could not be happier. A .297 career minor league hitter he has shown he can really hit while playing every position. One of the best guys in the game, just ask around.
Outfield: Aristides Aquino, Phillip Ervin, Nick Longhi, Nick Senzel, Kyle Wren
Ahhhh finally. The one we have been waiting for; Nick Senzel. The Reds top prospect and now centerfielder came on the scene last season playing in 44 games while batting .310 with 6 home runs, 12 doubles, 8 steals in Louisville. Injuries have been a concern early in his career but the ceiling is high. We all know he can hit, but he is in Louisville to *learn how to play center*. How long he will be a be in Louisville remains to be seen but I suggest coming early and often to the Bats games this season. Ervin showed out in spring hitting .341 with 6 bombs. Playing in 78 games with the Reds last season he showed at times that he deserves a shot in the show. I expect to see him in a Reds uniform. Nick Longhi has been a first basemen/outfielder has played 32 games in Louisville. He provides depth at the two positions. Aristides Aquino saw one at-bat with the Reds last season. He profiles as an outfielder with a lot of power, and a strong arm. The issue has been the hitting for average and striking out. After two seasons in AA, he will get a shot at AAA this year. Kyle Wren is a .292 hitter in the minors. New to the organization it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Pitchers: Anthony Bass, Matt Bowman, Odrisamer Despaigne, Vladimir Gutierrez, Jimmy Herget, Ian Krol, Jose Lopez, Juan Martinez, Keury Mella, Cody Reed, Jesus Reyes, Sal Romano, Lucas Sims, Jackson Stephens, and Rob Wooten.
I will not breakdown every single pitcher, but I will a few. No disrespect to any I skip.
Jimmy Herget has shown in the minors he has the stuff combined with the funky delivery to at least get a shot at some point in 2019. Listed as the #8 prospect for the Reds (mlb.com), Vladimir Gutierrez is one to watch. His high upside and fastball alone will draw you in. He is someone to keep an eye on and monitor how the young 23-year-old develops. Keury Mella and Jesus Reyes each had a cup of coffee with the Reds and could be options injury happens. Matt Bowman came over from the Cardinals where he pitched well at times, and not so well other times. He will look to get back on track. Cody Reed, Sal Romano, and Jackson Stephens are all names you should know. It feels like the last chance for some names and a strong showing in Louisville can put them in the mix.
Anthony Bass, Odrisamer Despaigne, Ian Krol, Rob Wooten are all veteran players hoping to get another shot with a big league club.
Overall, this roster will change often. Young talent is just below in AA Chattanooga and pushing for at-bats at the AAA level. As far as Bats rosters from previous years, this one looks better than many in recent memory. Another exciting year of Bats baseball ahead!
The Cincinnati Reds and the 20 Pitch Limit
When it comes to quirky early Cactus League season games, there’s a lot to know. One this is the 20-pitch limit a manager can invoke on an inning his guy is getting clobbered in. The Cincinnati Reds have already done this.
This Spring has seen an interesting beginning in that teams have smaller rosters than normal (though still plenty of players to go around) and they can choose to play shorter games. One other added wrinkle of differentness is the ability of a manager to “throw in the towel” whenever his pitcher reaches 20 pitches in an inning.
The Reds have already taken advantage of this twice, both during the beat down at the hands of the Athletics. Sal Romano got the curtain pulled on him in the fourth inning while Shane Carl heard the music in the fifth. These don’t necessarily paint a larger picture, as of yet, but it is interesting to note.
Carle doesn’t factor into the equation that is the Opening Day roster, but Big Sal surely does. He is out of minor league options (meaning he’d have to clear waivers to be assigned a minor league team) and he has shown some flashes of talent in the past. He could be valuable depth for the Reds bullpen, so calling it quits after 20 tosses (which frankly were all a consequence of Nick Senzel misplaying a ball early in the inning) doesn’t mean he’s out, but it is something to watch.
We’ll keep track here on the blog for more 20-pitch tap-outs.
Cincinnati Reds Roster Breakdown: Non Roster Invitees
Let’s take a look at the non-roster invitees trying to make the Cincinnati Reds roster during this Spring Training
WELCOME BAAAAAAACK! The Reds kick off the 2021 season on Sunday with their first spring training game. As I do each spring training, I am going to take a look at the non roster invitees (NRI) and how they could impact the team this season.
R.J. Alaniz, Matt Ball, Cam Bedrosian, Jesse Biddle, Shane Carle, Josh Osich, Branden Shipley, Bo Takahashi
You might recognize a couple of these names. Alaniz has been around the organization the past couple of years and pitched 11.2 innings with the Reds in 2019. Biddle was a guy who was around last year, but the others are new. Carle (76.1 in), Osich (206.1 in), Shipley (100 in) have experience in the show with moderate results. Cam Bedrosian is the name to know here. The fact that he was signed on with a minor league deal is surprising. 277.2 innings with a 3.70 ERA has been a solid MLB pitcher. 2019 batters hit .207/.283/.336 and in 2020 they hit .196/.276/.255. His spin rate is gritty darn good honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a minor league deal that really is a promise on the roster. Think Jose Iglesias who was also a NRI a couple years back. This allows the Reds to delay their decision on making a 40 man roster move.
For a team that lost Rasiel Iglesias, Bradley, maybe Antone and Lorenzen to the rotation, Bedrosian will have a chance to really earn a legit role with this team. You don’t have to squint too hard to see a scenario where Shipley or Carle get innings this year.
Bittle and Osich are lefties that would have battled for the other LHP spot in the pen, but the signing of Doolittle bumps them to depth roles.
A 33 year old catcher with 37 at bats and a career .108 avg. Id say that there is not much to see here. Stephenson and Tucker are the one two punch and the offseason addition of Deivy Grullon will provide a younger depth option with a higher upside than Gale.
Cheslor Cuthbert, Dee Strange-Gordon (not listed on Reds roster yet)
Cuthbert isn’t a household name, but he does have over 1,000 at bats in the MLB. He had a decent season in ’16 with the Royals batting .274/.318/.413 and 12 HR, but he hasn’t shown enough to be a full time MLB player. Corner infield depth.
Here’s where I stand on Dee….If he is here to battle for a utility role, that’s fine with me. If he is here to be some variation of an answer at SS, we are in trouble. A 32 year old poor defender (who on the Reds isn’t at this point) who doesn’t have any power and doesn’t get on base. Yeah, he has stolen some bases. We all know speed is one of the first things to go when you age, and he still has some jump, but I don’t think it’s game changing speed at this point, and it’s useless unless he’s on base. I’m not high on Strange Gordan making an impact.
Nicky Delmonico, Tyler Naquin, Dwight Smith
I was worried about the Reds outfield depth. It’s a sneaky need, especially of Aquino doesn’t bounce back. This group of NRI is a group I am excited about. All have MLB experience and have had their moments. Delmonico had a nice (small sample size) rookie year with the White Sox in 2017, but has been worse each year since then. It’s the other two that catch my eye.
Dwight Smith has shown he has some pop in his bat. He is the type of player that you want to have in AAA ready to fill in if needed. Tyler Naquin is a guy I think could actually contribute to this team. We know 2020 was a small sample size, but look at the hard hit and exit velo. And his outfield jump/Outs above avg. fit in well with the team that doesn’t seem to care about defense.
He had a great rookie year in ’16, and has had moments since. .288/.325/.467 10 HR 19 2B in 2019 would be a good bench bat. The question is…is he better than Aquino/Heineman/Payton? Him and Payton are the two leftieis of the group. At the very least, I think he is great organizational depth, and I think his floor is a higher floor than the group listed above (maybe Aquino can make me eat crow there)
This list is different than most years. Not as many players listed, and no prospects. The number of players at Spring Training will be smaller than years past. Overall, I think theres 2-3 guys who could earn a role on the Reds 2021 roster.
Monday Morning Manager: The Snell Effect
David Bell has many things he needs to go right in order to win games and get a contract extension. One thing he can control is a decision-making process that should not be made entirely analytically.
In case you lived under a rock last year (and that might be Truer than in any other year) then you know how the World Series went down with the Rays falling to the Dodgers. You may even know about Blake Snell’s improbable removal from Game Six when he was absolutely on fire. This is something David Bell cannot mess up in 2021.
Ok, so in the grand scheme of things, I’m talking about the correct managing of the bullpen and rotation in pressure situations. Most people will look at the Game Six managing of Kevin Cash and see two things: a man sticking to his system that got him there and a man over-thinking things. Neither thoughts are incorrect.
In this day and age of baseball, most people understand statistical evaluations on pitchers favoring removing a starter before they pitch to the opposing lineup for the third time in a game. Well, maybe, because the numbers are a bit different in 2020, small sample size, and all. In fact, the Reds pitching staff held opponents to a .599 OPS in 253 plate appearances the third time through the order, last year. That may be a smoke screen, though, as the 2019 Reds pitching staff (largely similar to 2020) allowed an OPS of .892 in 799 PA. That’s a bit of a more reliable sample size, which would leave me to believe a starter pitching a third time through the order isn’t the most favorable idea.
Also something David Bell must consider is the overthinking aspect. In this Player’s Tribune post by the man, Blake Snell, himself, he points out the immense effect that simply seeing someone warming up in the bullpen had on him. Now, you can say “Well, that shouldn’t have been an issue, he should have sucked it up and pitched!” The dude is a human being. If you saw the person management was likely to replace you with if you messed something up at your job, are you going to just keep on keeping on with no thought to look over your shoulder? If you are, you might be a Jedi. Most of us mere mortals have problems with worrying about what might happen if things fall apart. Baseball players are not totally immune to this, either.
In order for Bell to garner a contract extension, he will have to adeptly manage a pitching staff that has talent, but also has human egos. Just because the numbers say that a decision should go one way, the human element must also be factored in. Last I checked, theres no button for that on a calculator, which leaves it up to his own decision-making skill.