Catcher – Corky Miller & Miguel Olivo
Corky Miller will return to Louisville for what seems like his 20th year, though it will only be his 10th. He will split time with Miguel Olivo who was hoping to catch on with the big league squad, but has struggled to hit this spring. Olivo hit .222/.239/.381 with the Seattle Mariners in 2012.
First Base - Neftali Soto
While the Reds have tossed out the idea that Soto could see some time at third base this year in an attempt to find a place for his bat at the MLB level, he should see a majority of his time at first for the second straight year. He will look to improve upon his 2012 with the Bats where he hit just .245/.313/.400. He improved his plate discipline last year, but nagging injuries held back the rest of his offensive game.
Second Base – Emmanuel Burris
Burris split his 2012 between AAA and the Majors with the Giants. In the Majors he posted a .213/.270/.221 line, but was solid in AAA with a .274/.342/.377 line. He was competing for a spot on the Reds bench as a backup infielder but has fallen behind the other players and isn’t on the 40-man roster, likely leaving him a spot in Louisville.
Third Base – Henry Rodriguez
Rodriguez saw his first struggles at the plate since arriving in the US last year in Louisville as he also tried coming back from a broken hand. He has had a good spring with the Reds, hitting .379/.400/.517 thus far, but he has been shaky on defense and wasn’t likely fighting for the backup infield spot. While he has played around the infield in the past, and may find himself moving around from time to time in 2013 to get Neftali Soto some game time at third base, expect Rodriguez to spent a majority of his time at third.
Shortstop – Cesar Izturis
Izturis is battling Jason Donald for the final roster spot and is having a solid spring with a .293/.341/.415 line so far, but his not being on the 40-man roster will likely push him to Louisville as Donald is having a good spring and is on the 40-man roster already. Izturis hit .241/.254/.343 in the Majors in 2012.
Left Field - Felix Perez
Felix Perez will return to Louisville after hitting .301/.348/.401 in 2012 with the Bats and playing all around the outfield. A good defender in his own right, Perez will likely be the weakest defender in the Bats regular outfield rotation. He will likely spend time in both left and right field.
Center Field - Billy Hamilton
The top prospect in the system and the most exciting player to come through the system in a long time, Hamilton will work on honing in his defensive skills at his new position in Louisville after beating up the competition between Bakersfield and Pensacola in 2012. I would expect him to still steal a bunch of bases, but far less than the 155 he stole last year as he will focus on other parts of his game as he prepares to take over for Cincinnati in 2014.
Right Field - Ryan LaMarre
LaMarre played the 2012 season with plantar fasciitis. After having surgery in the offseason he looks to rebound some on his .263/.356/.353 and has taken the offseason to work on his swing as well. A natural center fielder, with Billy Hamilton on the cusp, he will move over and split time in both corners where he should be a plus defender. With full health and a new swing, it will be interesting to see how he responds.
Tony Cingrani - Tony Cingrani is one of the two premiere pitching prospects who will be in the rotation for the Bats to begin the year. After leading the minor leagues with a 1.73 ERA last season with 172 strikeouts in 146 innings the left hander will take the next step in his progression. He struggled in Double-A with his walk rate, but still was able to dominate on most nights. Control will be something to watch for with Cingrani along with the development of his slider for the Bats.
Daniel Corcino - Joining Cingrani is another of the Reds top pitching prospects as the two should be able to provide plenty of help for the Bats rotation. Corcino skipped over Advanced-A last season and struggled, like Cingrani, to keep the walk rate under control at times in Pensacola. He finished 2nd in the league in ERA among qualified pitchers, but his strikeout rate was lower than it had been int he past as well. Like Cingrani, watching his control will be a key development point for Corcino in Louisville.
Armando Galarraga - Best known for throwing a perfect game that was erroneously taken away from him on out 27 by a blown call at first base, Galarraga has started just 13 games in the Majors over the last two years. Last season he posted a 4.13 ERA in AAA for Houston over 9 starts. He hasn’t been the same since having surgery to remove bone chips in his throwing elbow with his control being iffy since. Being further from the surgery, he hopes he can control the strikezone better and help round out the Bats rotation.
Chad Reineke – It seems that like battery mate Corky Miller, that Reineke has been in Louisville forever. It will only be the 4th season for the Ohio native that shares a birthday with myself (though he is a few years older). The right hander made 26 starts for the Bats last season spread out over 151.2 innings with a 4.57 ERA.
Fifth Starter - The Reds signed several minor league veterans with varying degrees of success over the years who are likely battling it out in the spring for the final rotation spot. Former #2 overall pick Greg Reynolds made 27 starts for the Rangers organization in Triple-A last year, though he struggled as he posted a 5.30 ERA (to be fair, the PCL is very hitter friendly). Jeff Marquez really struggled in 2012 at the Triple-A level, but has had success in the past as a minor leaguer. Yohan Pino had a good season in 2012 at the Double-A level and has had success in the past at the Triple-A level along with some struggles at other times.
Relievers – They are just too difficult to project. Guys can jump over levels with ease at times, so I am going to just skip over them.