Thanks to a lack of sleep, and google maps lying to me a little bit, I was able to arrive in Goodyear about 7 hours earlier than I had been planning. And that means that I was able to get in nearly a full extra day of spring training. What it also meant is that I was a little bit unprepared in terms of cameras being charged and ready to go. There, however, was some stuff that I was able to find out that was useful.

Jose Siri injury update

During the first game of Major League spring training Jose Siri left the game after a collision with the center field wall. It was not what anyone wanted to see. Initial reports were unclear on how much time the Reds Hitter of the Year would miss while recovering from the injury to his thumb. Bryan Price would eventually note that it wouldn’t be anytime soon, and that they wouldn’t see him again this spring. What wasn’t clear was whether that meant with the big league club or whether it was “he’s not playing at all this spring”.

Well, I was able to get the answer today. Jose Siri is going to miss the rest of the spring. He will not be ready to begin the 2018 regular season on time. The timetable is still a little uncertain, but a source said that it’s a possibility that he could miss all of April before beginning his season.

Tyler Stephenson had a big day on Saturday

This one comes from Jamie Ramsey:

The power has been a big selling card for Tyler Stephenson ever since he was drafted. It hasn’t shown up too frequently in the games since he turned pro, though. In 178 games he’s hit 11 home runs – including six last season in 80 games with Dayton. Injuries probably play a role in that – he’s missed half of a season, or more, each of the previous two years.

Last season he took a big step forward in terms of his plate approach. In 2016 he walked 14 times with 52 strikeouts in 176 plate appearances. In 2017 he walked 44 times and struck out just 58 times in 348 plate appearances. Unsurprisingly everything at the plate improved with that. If he’s able to take that next step forward with his power output (and to be fair, he’s heading to the Florida State League where power is tough to come by), it could be huge for both himself and the Reds farm system.

Early first looks

The Double-A and Triple-A teams, as earlier noted, were playing their games at home in Goodyear on Sunday. While those games were happening, some of the rookie level guys were over on another field having practice. I ventured over there at times and got a chance to see some of the young guys for the first time in person. I don’t want to get too detailed here, because it was just a few rounds of batting practice, and I didn’t see each group all of the way through, but some things stood out.

Miguel Hernandez, the second biggest prospect at the time that the Cincinnati Reds signed in the 2015 International Signing period, was one of the guys I saw for the first time. Last year he split the season between the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona League Reds as an 18-year-old. He showed a smooth swing with some bat speed. He is a bit thinner than I expected him to be. Now, he’s just 19-years-old, but he looks a bit thinner than his listed size. I’m hoping to get to see him in the field while I’m out here. The reports I’ve gotten are very good.

I was able to see Reniel Ozuna in spring training last season in very limited action. So, technically this isn’t my first time seeing him in action. He hit .288/.351/.398 with the AZL Reds last season as an 18-year-old. He definitely stood out among the guys I did see among this group on Sunday afternoon. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see him in some game action while I’m out here and don’t have to wait until the mid-summer to see him in Greeneville or Billings.

Leonardo Seminati, a 19-year-old first baseman out of Italy, was also among one of the guys I was seeing in person for the first time. Physically, he really stood out. While he’s young, he’s a listed 6′ 2″ and 210 lbs. And he looked every bit of it.

Brandon Dixon and Alex Blandino keep on hitting

Brandon Dixon hit his 4th home run of the spring on Sunday afternoon, going 1-1 on the day. He’s been impressive all spring long, hitting .351/.385/.703 for the Reds in 37 at-bats. Of his 13 hits, five of them have been for extra-bases. He has really caught fire over the last three games, going 4-5 in that stretch.

Alex Blandino hasn’t shown quite the same power that Dixon has, but he’s hit nearly as well. On Sunday afternoon he went 2-3 with a triple. That pushed his spring line to .387/.424/.484. The triple was only his second extra-base hit – he had a double previously. He’s only struck out four times in 31 at-bats with the big league club.

Both players are likely competing for the same spot on the roster as a backup/super-sub/utility player, or whatever you want to call it. Both guys are capable of playing multiple positions. Where Alex Blandino has the edge is that he’s a bit of a stronger defender on the infield, and he’s capable of backing up at shortstop. Where Brandon Dixon has the edge is that he’s got experience in the outfield on top of his ability to play first, second, and third base.

Have you checked out Patreon yet?

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There are some perks for contributing. While eventually all of the work does make it to these pages, some of it does wind up on Patreon first. They also get a daily email during the season recapping all of the action from the night before with notes on some of the players. The monthly mailbags are usually made up of questions that Patreon supporters get to ask. That’s the end of my sales pitch. Thanks for indulging me.


24 Responses

  1. CP

    Good stuff Doug. Looking forward to hearing more!

    On a side note. Amir just might have locked up the 5th spot in the rotation yesterday. It doesn’t sound like Finny will be ready in time to start the season, so they will eventually need a 5th guy for the rotation. Mahle and Romano seem to have locked up the 3rd and 4th spots.

    Bailey (Even though I wish it was Castillo)

    That leaves Stephenson and Reed from the outside looking in. Probably working as SP’s in AAA to be much needed depth. If they perform, they will get their chance at some point during the year.

    • Billy

      I agree with this completely.

      That has me wondering though… We say every year that the roster shouldn’t be built based on what guys do during 6 weeks of spring training, and instead should be based on a larger body of work. At the start of the spring, we would have said that Castillo and Bailey were basically locks with DeSclafani and Finnegan also being locks if healthy. The frontrunners for the 5th starter position appeared to be Romano and Stephenson. Price had suggested that Mahle and Lorenzen were the other two competitors, but that they were the longer shots.

      So how much stock should we put into spring training? It appears that the spring mattered quite a lot for Stephenson and Garrett, at least. Obviously, it didn’t matter at all for Bailey. What are the odds that Stephenson finds himself in the rotation at Garrett’s expense, with justification being that Stephenson’s body of work from last year suggests he’ll come around even though Garrett has looked outstanding this spring?

      • Stock

        My counter to this is that Garrett is not the same pitcher he was in 2017. In 2017 his fastball sits in the low 90’s. In 2018 it is in the mid to upper 90’s.

      • CP

        That’s a good point Billy, but I agree with you on this Stock. What Garrett has shown is an entirely new skill set from what he was working with last year. His injury last year plays to his advantage now when considering his ST performance. It makes it seem that last years bad numbers were a result of being hurt.

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah, my phone was going off while I was on the backfields yesterday with a few people telling me about Garrett and how he was doing.

      I thought about writing about it, but I’ll be honest – I was tired and thought it would take up some time. Depending on how long the layoff between the morning workouts and game time is today, I may write about it a little bit for the afternoon.

  2. Stock

    Castillo and Mahle are clearly the two best SP in the organization right now. If Garrett can throw 95-98 all year he joins them in the top 3. If Disco could stay healthy he would join them. For the next year or so Bailey gets the 5th spot. For health reasons Finnegan should probably be in the bullpen.

    I would love to see Stephenson find his command. I think at least one of Gutierrez/Lopez will step into the rotation by 2020.

    For service time reasons I would not be surprised to see Mahle start in Louisville. The Reds blew it last year by bringing him up. Much easier to justify 2 weeks vs. 2 months.

  3. sultanofswaff

    Exceptional piece of hitting by Blandino on his triple. Sat back on a curve and patiently drove it to CF with pop. I’ll be bummed if he doesn’t make the team over the likes of Cliff Pennington or Peraza. He’s simply more valuable.

    As much as I want Robert Stephenson in the rotation, I think he’ll be best served spending some time in Louisville pitching every 5th day.

    Some pretty fiery comments by Cody Reed over the weekend, calling out the decision makers who have written him off as a rotation candidate. While I think he’s better suited to the bullpen, he clearly has had it with the way the organization has talked him up as both a starter and reliever but not committing one way or ther other.

    Some nice changeups by Garrett yesterday. He certainly looks different than last year in the sense his pitches have a lot more late life and bite.

    • Doug Gray

      Where were those comments made? I’d be interested in reading them.

      • sultanofswaff

        “Who says I can’t be a starter? Who says I’m not one of the top five guys?” Reed said. “Whoever does, they need to re-evaluate what they’re saying. I’m think I’m good enough to pitch with the five top guys. I know I’m one of them. I’ll be the best bullpen guy there is and I’ll be the best starter I can be with those five guys. I got the opportunity today and thought I made pretty good progress.”

        Reed gave up two earned runs and six hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Although he was sprayed with hits, he showed good command.

        “Really, overall it was a three-pitch mix and really good sliders in on the righties, a good changeup and fastball command,” Price said. “It was really encouraging.”

  4. Tampa Red

    It seems as if Dixon and Blandino are competing for the same spot. If both can’t make it, I’d prefer Dixon.

    He’s probably not great at it, but he did start 30+ games in CF in the minors and plays all over the infield as well. And man, he’s got some thump in his bat.

    Nothing against Blandino, I’d be happy with him too. I just think that having a utility player that has the kind of power Dixon has is pretty unique and I’d like to see what he can do.

    • MK

      Agree with you Red. I think Pennington will make the team which should take care of defensive infielder but a little power off the bench would be great. Alex is better bet for on base pct. but Dixon has the power.

    • jbonireland

      Blandino and Dixon should both be on the 25. Both have outplayed Pennington by a long stretch. Blandino can play short as well as second and third and Dixon can be the 5th outfielder/ infielder along with 2nd catcher, 4th outfielder. If Price wants his 5 man bench the last guy could be Gosselin, Pennington or Ervin.

      • MK

        But neither play a major league shortstop defense and Pennington does. I could see Pennington being a late inning defensive replacement for Peraza.

  5. Jon in Colorado

    I remember years back when Aaron Harang was one of the better starting pitchers the Reds had. He was always horrible in spring training, but when the season started he flipped the switch & was a reliable starter. I’m hoping that Homer Bailey is “just working on things” like Aaron Harang used to say. I know it’s a bad contract but I still think he has something left in the tank.

  6. Tampa Red

    Doug, doesn’t sound like you got the chance to see the big league team, but I’ll ask anyway. How far was that HR Schebler hit? It was crushed, I’m guessing 430 ft.

    • Doug Gray

      I have no clue. While I’m out here, I have no way of keeping up with the Major League games.

  7. AirborneJayJay

    Thumb injuries are very tricky. I am glad they are going slow with Siri and not rushing him. I never really heard the extent of his injury to his thumb though. Was there a break in a bone, a dislocation, or a hyper-extension? It seems like it is more than a contusion or a sprain.
    It would be big for the organization if T. Stephenson can play a whole year healthy this year and take a big step forward. Stuart Turner is not the answer on who to pair with Barnhart in 2019 and 2020. Can Mesoraco play his way into a 2 year extension with the Reds this year to be a part timer with Barnhart for 2 years? Certainly not at $13M per year, but Mesoraco could be an affordable player for 2 more years if he wants to stay in Cincinnati as a part timer. If he plays well this year he may get better offers elsewhere. It is an option for Dick Williams to keep in mind. Mesoraco has quietly had a nice spring training.

    • Doug Gray

      They initially said nothing was torn, but it sounded like a hyperextension.

      • MK

        That is what they said about Tyler Stephenson a couple years ago and he ended up getting surgery.

  8. Hal

    With the Reds medical staff’s track record they may not have been able to diagnose which thumb is even hurt as of yet.

  9. mark

    Time to trade both Hamilton and Duvall and insert Winker and Ervin into LF and CF respectively with Schebler in RF and spot start Brandon Dixon in LF or RF…. kid has been impressive this spring and the last few years in the minors give him a shot? Because we are so deep in virtually all areas and you don’t want to “block” other guys rocketing up the minors like Siri, Trammel, Lopez….what is greatest field position of need in mid/upper level of minors?

  10. vrf

    You can see a video of part of Cody’s interview at summary of the game. Doesn’t seem nearly as inflammatory when you watch it.

    • Jack the Jackrabbit

      Compare what Cody said to what Amir said. There is a distinct difference between the two. Cody seems entitled and Amir seems ready to do what’s good for the team and to be perfectly honest Cody needs to start in AAA.