Cincinnati Reds State of the Farm: First Base

First base is a position that isn’t going to be open in Cincinnati for a long, long time. Joey Votto is locked up for the next decade, so having depth at the position isn’t likely a big concern for the Reds at any point soon.

The top prospect at the position is a guy who isn’t really viewed as a first baseman by the Reds, but played out of position due to injuries. Seth Mejias Brean split time between third and first base, and the Reds are even giving him a look at catcher in instructional league. I don’t consider him much for the position, but given that a majority of his playing time in 2013 came at the position he warranted at least a mention and explanation as to why he isn’t really being considered for this position in this series.

The next guy in line is another player who split time between first and third base in Neftali Soto. With Joey Votto having the spot locked down so much the Reds gave Soto plenty of reps at third base with journeyman slugger Mike Hessman playing plenty of first as well. Soto still struggles some with plate discipline, drawing just 26 walks while striking out 103 times for Louisville this year and despite above-average to plus raw power his in game power was just moderate in 2013 where he had 21 doubles and 15 home runs in 495 plate appearances. His upside, mostly due to the power potential is good but his plate discipline holds back his hitting abilities.

Travis Mattair began the season with some real struggles, but showed improvements throughout the season. He, like the other two guys mentioned, split time between third base and first base. Defensively he is one of, if not the best defender at his position in the system. He has more power potential than he showed in games this year, though he profiles better as a utility player who can provide outstanding defense on the corners and some pop off of the bench.

Steve Selsky got off to a slow start in Pensacola as an outfielder and was sent back to Bakersfield where he played first base for the Blaze. Much like Mejias-Brean, he isn’t really viewed as a first baseman but did spend a majority of his season at the position where he hit .297/.388/.497 in 393 plate appearances with the Blaze. His future will be in the outfield.

At the rookie levels there were two 22-year-olds starting at first for the Mustangs and the Arizona League Reds. Carlos Sanchez began the year with Dayton but suffered a knee injury in April and didn’t return to health until June rolled around when he was sent to Billings. He really struggled to get going once he came off of the injury, but eventually came back to his old form in August and September where he hit over .300 and slugged over .500. The injury set him back after a big 2012 season. 2014 will be a very big season for him because of his age and his struggles coming off of the injury in 2013. Logan Uxa was a 32nd round pick in this years draft and he performed well at first base for the Arizona League Reds as he hit .281/.379/.438 with 22 walks and 19 strikeouts.

Overall Thoughts

There isn’t an elite prospect in the group and while there are some solid players in the group they look more like utility types of players than starting caliber players at first base. There is some depth at the position, which is the saving grace of the position as well as the flexibility of several players to be able to play third base to help provide them with more value, the missing star potential hurts. The position took a hit as Donald Lutz lost the position eligibility as well as his prospect eligibility due to the amount of time he spent on the big league roster.

Grade: D+

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