With spring training getting underway this Saturday for our Reds (well, the pitchers and catchers at least. Position players show up next Thursday) , I thought I would take a look at the prospects/minor leaguers who are heading to spring training and talk about their chances to break camp with the big league team. There are 21 players who still have prospect eligibility. Today I will look at the first 11 and tomorrow I will follow that up with the other 10 players on Tuesday. The guys are listed in alphabetical order.

Tucker Barnhart – Catcher – Non Roster Invite

Barnhart is a quality prospect, but he isn’t a roster player, has never been above Low-A and was invited to get some experience and because there is always a need for a lot of catchers early in the spring with a lot of pitchers still in camp. He has next to no chance of breaking with the Reds this spring.

Andrew Brackman – RHP – Roster Invite

The Reds brought Brackman in this offseason on a minor league deal. He has Major League quality stuff, and claims he has figured out his control problems that he struggled with in 2011 in the minors for the Yankees. If the Reds bullpen weren’t stacked, I would suggest that he has a chance to find a spot with a good showing. However, the Reds bullpen is pretty stacked and I think that unless an injury or two happens, he will find his way back to AAA.

Nick Christiani – RHP – Non Roster Invite

Christiani had strong stats through AA, with a 3.06 ERA and a 4.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio. When he reached AAA though, his control waned and he saw his numbers go up. He has quality stuff, and much like Brackman, if there were a lesser bullpen, a strong spring may have landed him on the roster. But given the strength of the bullpen, his non roster status and his struggles in AAA last season, he would need some injuries to get a chance.

Daniel Corcino – RHP – Non Roster Invite

Like Barnhart, Corcino has never been above Low-A. While he is a polished pitcher for his age, he isn’t ready to take the step to the Majors. There is next to no chance for the Reds best starting pitching prospect to break with the team, this invite is more of a “look-see” and experience gaining opportunity.

Zack Cozart – Shortstop – Roster Invite

Heading into the spring, Cozart should be the favorite to be the starting shortstop. He isn’t fighting against the best group of players for the position and assuming he is healthy after coming back from a non-throwing elbow Tommy John surgery (and he should be), the job is his to lose. 90% chance that he breaks camp as the starter if he remains injury free.

Brian Esposito – Catcher – Non Roster Invite

Another catcher who was invited simply due to the fact that teams needs a plethora of catchers to handle the amount of pitchers and the number or split squad sessions. Zero chance he breaks with the team.

Todd Frazier – Utility Player – Roster Invite

I pegged Frazier to break with the Bats a few weeks ago and I stick by that. He has the ability to break with the team, but contracts and options are going to play a role in this decision and ultimately it will put Frazier back in AAA unless there is an injury that will open up a spot for him. I would say he has a 10% chance of breaking camp with the Reds.

Didi Gregorius – Shortstop – Roster Invite

From an overall tools perspective, Gregorius may have the largest array of them of all of the Reds shortstops when looking at both his defensive and offensive ceiling. With all of that said, he has a limited number of at bats above the High A level and finds himself down the pecking order of shortstops at this juncture. While I think he could fight his way up the pecking order as the season goes on, his spring training is going to be about gaining experience and getting time against higher level players before he heads back to minor league camp. He has next to no shot of breaking with the Reds without numerous injuries that will take guys out for prolonged periods of time.

Daryl Jones – Outfielder – Non Roster Invite

Jones is a former Cardinal who was at one time a top prospect for the organization while Jocketty was still running their ship. That luster has lost its shine over the last few seasons, but he still profiles as a guy who could be a solid extra outfielder. With the roster playing out how I expect it to, I would say he heads to AAA to play for Louisville. With a strong spring, he may have a small chance to break as the final outfielder on the team, but I wouldn’t say he has more than a 5-10% chance at this point.

Donnie Joseph – LHP – Non Roster Invite

Even if we include the Major Leaguers, Donnie Joseph is among the guy with the best potential stuff coming out of the bullpen. He has an above-average fastball and a plus slider. With that said, he really struggled with his control in 2011 at the AA level. Couple the struggled in 2011 with the stacked bullpen the Reds are going to have and Joseph simply doesn’t have much of a chance to break camp with the Reds, even with a strong spring training (though a strong spring may get him bumped to AAA).

23 Responses

    • Doug Gray

      I think it is certainly possible. It really depends on how much his bat steps forward over that time.

  1. Stock

    I think that assuming no injuries occur in the next 1.5 months that the Reds roster is set for the first time in a long time.

    C: Meso/Hanigan
    1B: Votto
    2B: Phillips
    3B: Rolen
    SS: Cozart
    LF: Heisey/Ludwick
    CF: Stubbs
    RF: Bruce
    BN: Cairo/Francisco/Valdez

    SP: Latos/Cueto/Leake/Bailey/Arroyo
    RP: Madson/Marshall/Masset/Ondrusek/Arrendondo/Bray/LeCure

    Ondrusek or LeCure would have to be very bad and either Brackman or Christiani be very good to change things. Of course last year Lewis, Cueto and Bailey started the year on the DL. If Frazier is really good and Francisco is really bad, Francisco could start the year on the DL much as Lewis did last year.

    • MK

      I think Francisco has to make it regardless of his spring. The team has no lefthanded hitters on the bench other than him and only three on this roster. When Juan has to play for Rolen it means no lefties on the bench. I know Heisey and Ludwick hit well against righties but with all righthanded closers in the division it could be a roster weakness.

      If MLB made one rule change I would love to see them go to a 26-man roster (at least in the NL).

    • IndyRedsFan

      Stock…..I agree with your assessment… with one additional caveat. That would be “assuming no trades”.
      I feel there is a reasonable chance that Cairo could be traded…with Frazier taking his spot. This gives the Reds a little salary relief, plus a 5th outfielder. I believe Cairo would have sufficient value to a potential contender that they would take on the $1mm salary and offer up a low level prospect.
      This would also free up a spot on the 40 man in the event it is needed.

      • stew

        I like your thoughts. If I were to predict the Reds roster, I would not include Cairo. What he does/brings to the table is redundant when you look at the combination of Francisco and Valdez. It is even worse if you look at Frazier’s skill set. I think they need the fifth outfielder too.

      • Alan Horn

        I agree. I would hate to lose Cairo because he has a pretty good bat. The problem is the positions he plays as you mentioned. On the down side… if he is traded and the others don’t produce, we have dug an even deeper hole with our bench hitting. Cairo is a good guy to have on the bench because we know he can hit. But I think Francisco and Frazier will also(at least enough to be adequate). Frazier can play the positions Cairo does plus LF. It’s tough decision that might be best answered a few months into the season.

      • MK

        Cairo has earned his spot.

        Fraizer has 2+ season of AAA with .262 batting average and Cairo .276 in 2 years with Cincy in the bigs.

        If I am going for a championship I will take my chances with the vet.

      • Jon Ryker

        What Cairo brings to the table is an incredibly reliable, clutch bat off the bench late in games….neither Fransisco or Frazier brings that….Cairo is staying….Frazier will go to AAA and hit 250….

      • jim t

        why wold we a contending club trade are best bench player for a untested rookie who can go to AAA until needed. We would not be a better ball club with Frazier over Cairo.

  2. Mel

    Doug sorry ,off topic, any idea of the coaching staff under Ringlemen

    • Doug Gray

      Still haven’t seen it anywhere. It is rather crazy that we are this far into 2012 and haven’t heard a peep.

    • Doug Gray

      $36M for the total deal. That will be interesting to follow along.

  3. todd

    Any chance Daniel Corcino starts the season in AA with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos? I can’t believe I am the only one who would like to have him pass the Mickey Mouse Cal League(and in the famous Bobby Knight quote – that’s an insult to Mickey Mouse!), so we don’t ruin any of his confidence.

    • Doug Gray

      Chance, yes. Likely, I don’t really think so. I have heard he will be given the chance to make the team out of ST, but I imagine he would need to be absolutely lights out all spring to make it happen.

  4. MK

    I see the Lynchburg team is moving to Wilmington, NC. Guess the Braves thing didn’t work out as well as they hoped. Sometimes you need to be carefull what you wish for. The move is contingent on another affiliated team moving in. This would mean another team shifts, or one other team moves in. If a couple of franchises move from Florida or California, which is rumored to be a possibility, maybe the Reds can get back into that league in 2013.

    • Doug Gray

      I imagine it has to do with how they view him, as being part of the future in potentially more than a back up type role.

  5. Jim delaney

    I think francis has good shot to make team and be kept as long man in bullpen and first option in case of injury. I think both LeCure and Ondrusek have options. Francis contract status gives him out clause if he doesn’t make team, he won’t go to AAA. Teams go through about 8 pitchers getting at least one start, Reds don’t have experienced depth to let Francis walk.

    • Ryan

      This situation will be interesting this spring for sure. If Francis has a strong spring he just might get that last spot in the pen.