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).