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. Yesterday I took a look at the first 10 players and today I will finish up the list with the final 11 guys. The players are listed in alphabetical order:

Josh Judy – RHP – Roster Invite

The Reds picked up Josh Judy from the Indians off of the waiver wire after the 2011 season. He had a strong year in AAA for the Indians, but struggled in a brief call up to the Majors where his strikeouts dropped off and his home run rate went through the roof. He has the stuff to be in the Majors with a low 90’s fastball and a quality slider. As noted with several relievers in the piece yesterday, if the Reds didn’t have such a stacked bullpen, he could be seen as a viable option, but the Reds are stacked and that likely means he heads back to the International League.

Kyle Lotzkar – RHP – Roster Invite

The Reds added Lotzkar to the 40-man roster this offseason to protect him from a potential Rule 5 draft selection. With that, he gets an invite to spring training. While he has good stuff, he has never pitched above Low-A and has next to no chance to break with the big league club. Getting experience with higher level players will be a benefit of his time before heading back to minor league camp.

Donald Lutz – 1B/OF – Roster Invite

Lutz is in the same mold as Lotzkar. He was added to the roster to protect him from a potential Rule 5 selection and also has never played above the Low-A level while having next to no chance to break camp with the Reds. Gaining some experience and picking up some tips from older and more advanced players will be his largest benefit before he heads back to the minor league camp.

Devin Mesoraco – Catcher – Roster Invite

Mesoraco has been the most impressive hitter the Reds have had over the last two season down on the farm and I don’t think it is particularly close when we take into account his position scarcity. With the Reds not bringing back Ramon Hernandez, it is a virtual certainty that Mesoraco breaks camp with the Reds, with the largest question revolving around how much playing time he will get. There is a 99% chance he breaks camp with the Reds.

Kristopher Negron – Shortstop/Utility – Roster Invite

Kristopher Negron had a very disappointing season in 2011 after what was viewed as a breakout in 2010. He had gotten away from a more patient approach and as a result saw his offensive numbers plummet. Negron did take on more of a utility role in 2011, getting time in the outfield as well as the infield. He has some tools to work with, and if he can hit some he could still be a future Major Leaguer. For now though, he has next to no chance to break camp with the Reds in any capacity as he is just too far down the depth chart for any role he would fill at this point in time.

Denis Phipps – Outfielder – Roster Invite

Phipps had a statistical breakout this past year where he just exploded to hit .346 between Carolina and Louisville. While his breakout was likely an incredibly lucky situation due to an unsustainable BABIP (nearing .450), he does have some tools to his name and if nothing else, his defensive tools play at the Major League level right now. If there is an injury in spring training and the Reds need an extra outfielder, Phipps ability to play all three spots could get him the nod. Ideally though, he heads back to Louisville to start every day and try to keep improving his game. I would say he has a 5% chance to make the team if everyone stays healthy.

Henry Rodriguez – Second Base – Roster Invite

Henry Rodriguez has hit .305 or better each of the last 4 seasons and has made his way to the upper minor leagues while seemingly improving each step of the way. With Brandon Phillips as the teams second baseman, there isn’t any room right now for Rodriguez on the roster. Getting some experience will be his biggest thing from his time with the big league club, but I imagine he will be one of the first players sent to minor league camp due to all of the veterans vying for the backup spots on the roster needing to get as much time as they can to sort things out. Unless there is a major injury to Phillips, and let’s hope there isn’t, Rodriguez has next to no chance to make the Reds out of spring training.

Neftali Soto – First Base – Roster Invite

Soto became the first Reds minor leaguer to hit 30 home runs in a season since Adam Dunn was still a prospect. Despite his big power, his offense still needs some work, particularly in the plate discipline department. However, even if he were a completely ready prospect, we still have that guy named Joey Votto that you may have heard of. With Votto not going anywhere, the only chance that Soto has is to mash all spring and to have an injury to Votto open up a spot for him. He has next to no chance to break camp with the Reds.

Clayton Tanner – LHP – Non Roster Invite

The Reds picked up Tanner from the Giants toward the end of the minor league season off of waivers. Tanner is a starting pitcher and the Reds will likely keep him there for the time being, which means that he doesn’t have much of a chance to break camp with the team unless there are numerous injuries to open up several spots. His lack of a 40-man roster spot means he could be one of the first pitchers to head to minor league camp.

Chris Valaika – Infielder – Roster Invite

Valaika will likely be battling for the utility role with several players. With the contract of Miguel Cario locked in and Juan Francisco being out of options, I think unless there is an injury, Valaika has already had his fate sealed as heading back to Louisville. Though with a strong spring and some very poor ones from several other guys, he could sneak in there. I would say he has a 10% chance to break camp with the Reds.

Pedro Villarreal – RHP – Roster Invite

The Reds added Villarreal to the 40-man roster this offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He has two above-average pitches and good control to his name, so he could be a surprise guy in spring training who is able to turn some heads. With all of that said, it doesn’t seem that there is room for any pitchers heading to April unless there are some injuries. Even if a spot opens up due to ineffectiveness or injuries, Villarreal is still probably a few notches down the depth chart for the bullpen or rotation. I would say he has next to no chance of breaking camp without some injuries making room for some other guys.

16 Responses

  1. jim t

    Doug think you right on point on most of the guys but Valaika would need a bus crash to make the team. The 10% chance you gave him is way to high. He is not the prospect he once was and unless he has a seriously good year this year he will fall into the catagory of lifetime minor leagues.

  2. DaveCT

    Hey Doug, is Tanner a non-roster guy due to lack of time in professional ball? If so, I am impressed — getting a guy like Tanner off waivers without using a 40 man spot.

  3. DaveCT

    Like the turning heads comment on Villareal. This guys has improved and come on. I think Judy may also do the same.

  4. MK

    There is always that guy in Spring Training that turns some heads and either suprisingly makes the team or makes such an impression that his stock rises or becomes a fan cult hero, like Sasppelt became last year.

    My prediction is that Henry Rodriguez is that guy this year.

    • DaveCT

      A good choice, no doubt, especially since there does not seem to that guy in the system at the moment, like Jay Bruce Rising, whose power was so easy that heads turn. Tools yes — like YRod — but translation, no. So I like to HRod prediciton.

  5. MDRon

    I could see the Reds sending Mesoracco to Louisville for a couple months in order to slow his service clock. Navarro could start 40% of the games till June. This could also help to keep Devin fresher late in the year.

    • jim t

      Yes, my all means lets send our no.1 prospect back to Louisvile in a all in season to keep his service time from accumalating sooner. You must kidding right!!! You are aware that the reds while being a small market club have never once during the Castellini administration had a sell off of contracts or failed to try and put a competitive team on the field. The reds have invested in the minor leagues allowing them to build a very competitive club. Payroll is above 80 mil which is larger for this market. Bob C and group have improved the reds since the day they took over. Do your part buy a ticket.

    • Jim H.

      The Reds are going to bring their best 25 north. You don’t make the moves they made in the winter to slow a guy’s service clock. Navarro is insurance in case he is not ready. Up to Mesoraco, not Navarro.

  6. Mel

    Doug I will be in AZ for spring training for 3 weeks starting thursday of next week. If I may send in some small reporting that would be fun

  7. The Duke

    Saw on Twitter that Zack Cozart is already working out in Arizona