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There are so many center fielders in the system. Where do you see these guys playing this year? In which outfield position and at what level?

Nick Senzel is a total wild card here because I, and hardly anyone else, really knows what he’s capable of out there. Very few people have actually seen him out there. And of those few, the reports have been hit-or-miss. That said, if he can play center, I think he’s in Cincinnati.

I think that you’ll see both Double-A Chattanooga with a loaded outfield that will have three guys that can all play center field. Jose Siri, however, will get most of the time in center. TJ Friedl and Taylor Trammell will get some limited time in center, but will probably see time in left (Trammell) and right (Friedl) most of the time until someone is promoted. I would also expect that you’ll see Stuart Fairchild playing center in Daytona, and Mariel Bautista in Dayton.

Minor leagues are focused mostly on player development and not win-loss records. On that note, do minor league teams use scouting reports and sabermetrics more against the opponent or to benefit their own? Example, is a scouting report for a pitcher hitter matchup up designed as “do this to get the hitter out,” or “we think you are most effective as a pitcher doing this so that’s what we want you to focus on?”

Teams usually have scouting reports on the opposing pitchers. Sabermetrics? Not really. Teams are now shifting more in the minors on defense. Generally speaking, pitchers pitch to their strengths than to the hitters weaknesses – though you always hope that the pitcher strength is also the hitter weakness. With trackman being at every minor league park now, the ability to have more data on what hitters can and can’t handle is pretty available. Most teams share the raw data, with only a few teams not doing so. I can’t figure out why, because the raw data is available on their guys when they play on the road – but that’s why they get paid the big bucks and I write on the internet. I’m not sure that it’s made it’s way to the players on the field yet, though.

Robert Stephenson, Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano, Lucas Sims, and Michael Lorenzen all had shots at starting with varying success. It seems like the organization is telling them they aren’t good enough by acquiring three new starters. What happens with Stephenson and Sims without options? Romano and Mahle go to AAA and wait for another shot? Lorenzen to the pen, of course. Guess I’m asking how this mess of pitching gets sorted out, who survives in the Reds pen, who gets DFA, traded? For fun, who’s your dark horse pitcher and hitter to break through and jump up the prospect rankings?

For Stephenson he better pitch well in the spring and make the bullpen. Otherwise he is going to be traded or designated for assignment. Sims has an option remaining and could go to Triple-A. I think Mahle would wind up in Triple-A. Romano pitched well out of the bullpen at the end of last year, so there’s a chance he could be viewed as an option there if he doesn’t get a starting spot.

If we are going true dark horses, it’s going to be guys with tools who struggled in the numbers department. So let’s go with Jacob Heatherly for pitchers. And Debby Santana for the hitters.

Where do you see Reiver Sanmartin pitching next season? 

Advanced-A Daytona. While he pitched in the Florida State League last year, it was only for 12.0 innings. His time in Double-A was limited to one game and 5.0 innings. He’ll be 23-years-old at the end of the first week of the season. While age-to-level isn’t as important for pitchers, he’s not exactly young, either. See if he can thrive in the Florida State League and maybe push him from there.

There has been talk of the Reds bringing in a “defensive specialist” as a center fielder to be a late inning replacement, or to play in big parks. Is it possible that Mason Williams can fill that role? In other words, how good is he defensively? Better than Ervin or Schebler?

Mason Williams is a guy that can handle center, but isn’t exactly a defensive center fielder. When it comes to speed, he’s definitely slower than both Ervin and Schebler. Looking at the Statcast data, he’s a 4.04 home to first guy. Schebler was a 3.91 guy. Ervin was a 3.87 guy. And let’s remember that Ervin is coming from the right side of the box, too. He’s easily the fastest of the three. Williams is easily the slowest. Speed isn’t everything when it comes to outfield defense, but the numbers don’t exactly suggest he’s good out there, either.

What is your long-term projection, starter or reliever, for the following: Garrett, Reed, Mahle, Romano, R. Stephenson, Wisler, Sims, Mella & Finnegan .

Mahle as a starter. The rest as relievers. The reasoning is simple: I don’t think most of those guys are going to get looks or chances to start. Of that group I’d be surprised if even half of them made a single start for the Reds in 2019. And if that doesn’t happen, their role is going to be settled for the most part. Mahle is young enough that he’ll almost assuredly go to Triple-A to start if he doesn’t make the team. Everyone else? I think they could get a look in the bullpen and if they do, there’s not a lot of looking back available.

Any updates on some the injured prospects such as Travieso, Moscot, and Daal?

Not exactly, no. The most recent update on any of them that I got was on Nick Travieso. He pitched in instructional league and assuming no set backs, should be ready to go. Daal had shoulder problems and then a set back, but I haven’t heard much on him since mid-summer. Moscot’s been through multiple arm injuries since he last pitched, too. Not sure what his status is exactly at this point. Wish I had better answers on this one for you.

How does Jose Siri compare tools wise to Drew Stubbs when he was a prospect?

Jose Siri is slightly faster. He’s got far more game power at the same age, though their raw power is/was similar. Raw defensively, they are very similar. Siri can make the better plays in my opinion, but Stubbs was better from play-to-play, if that makes sense. I’d say that Siri has a better arm and better hit tool. The difference, though, is that Stubbs certainly got the strikezone a bit better. He was more patient at the plate, drew more walks, had a better idea of what he wanted to do up there.

Tucker Barnhart’s splits flipped last year. Do you think is an aberration or do you think his success vs lefties will continue? Also, do you expect a bounce back season from him?

As much as I don’t want to say it, I think it was an aberration as far as him hitting lefties goes. His BABIP was .400 against them last season. That explains almost the entire “turn around” against lefties versus the rest of his career, where he has a .613 OPS with a .291 BABIP.

As far as the bounce back season from him, yes and no. I think he could see less time against lefties, which will help his offensive line. But because he’s losing playing time, his overall value may not increase. I expect Curt Casali to get a little more playing time than he did last year.

26 Responses

  1. Brent

    Doug, what should we expect from Vlad G this year? He doesn’t seem to get a lot of pub for a top 10 prospect and had a really good 2nd half of the year in 2018. Is he a breakout candidate and someone to watch for the 2020 rotation?

    • Doug Gray

      I think he’ll likely spend most of, if not all of the year in Triple-A this year. Could be an option, depending on the opportunity presented, in the second half as a starter.

      • Brent

        Lots of options for the AAA rotation.

        If Castillo, Gray, Roark, Wood and Disco are your MLB rotation, who should be in AAA?

  2. indydoug

    I can see Casali being Wood’s primary catcher as they were teammates at Vandy. And then 1-2 more starts a week depending on R/L matchups.

  3. Krozley

    I believe Sims still has an option remaining so he can be stashed in AAA for depth. Wisler is the one we got from the Braves without an option.

    • Doug Gray

      This is true.

      Sims has an option. Wisler does not. I’ll go back and fix this.

    • Stock

      I was always under the impression that Sims had an additional option. He was drafted in 2012 with Stephenson but was only 18 on draft day. Stephenson was 19. I think Sims has one option left. Sims should be compared to Wisler. Wisler was drafted in 2011 at 18 so he is out of options in his 9th season. Sims should have one more option.

      • Doug Gray

        Sims and Stephenson aren’t related at all in draft/age. Both were 18 when drafted. The reason Sims has an option left and Stephenson doesn’t is that Stephenson was put on the 40-man roster in 2016 and optioned, and Sims wasn’t. Stephenson used options in 16/17/18, so he’s out. Sims used then in 17/18, so he’s got 1 left.

  4. The Duke

    You think we see Bautista in CF for Dayton over Mike Siani? Or do you see Siani in Billings? If they were aggressive enough to put Siani in Greenville right out of the draft, I think he has good odds of starting the year in Dayton.

    I think Romano is a near lock for the bullpen. He can go with his 2 pitches and let his fastball loose for short stints and be 95-98 as opposed to 93-96 as a starter. His third pitch clearly lags behind as well. While he is build like a workhorse 200 IP/year pitcher, I just don’t think that third pitch is close.

    • Doug Gray

      It wouldn’t surprise me if Siani jumped to Dayton, and if so, he’ll probably be the guy getting the most time in center. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he goes to Billings next year, too.

  5. Stock

    A couple of things stick out here.

    First, no mention of Siani in Dayton. I would be a bit surprised if he were in Billings.

    Second, the Siri/Stubbs comparison. I was always under the impression Siri was a + defender. While Stubbs was above average he was hardly +. Stubbs had to play a deep CF and as a result many balls a + CF would catch would fall in front of him for a single.

    • Doug Gray

      Scouts never agreed with the metrics on Stubbs as a defender. Every single one of them I talked to considered him a well above-average defender, regardless of what the metrics said.

      • Stock

        I never had problems with the ground Stubbs covered. I had problems with the fact that he had to play so deep because of his vision problems that ball the + defenders would catch easily would fall in front of him for singles. I am not sure how fangraphs determines defensive WAR but maybe their metrics determined this as well. Again, left and right he was great. Right at him he was great once he got his bearings. But in front of him he struggled.

  6. Shawn

    I would think Friedl would have a good chance of starting the year in Louisville. He played 67 games in Pensacola last year. He hit 276/359/360/719 with 28 BB and 56 Ks. If I remember right he started slow when he was first promoted and stepped it up to end the year. Wouldn’t swear to that tho.

    • Stock

      Actually it was the other way around.

      June OPS: .794
      July OPS: .761
      Sept OPS: .652

      • Shawn

        June was mostly in A+ but you are right. He did drop off from July to August.

  7. Hanawi

    Other than Santana, any other guys from Arizona or the DSL that you think might make a move up the rankings this year? Know it’s hard to project some of these really young guys.

    • Stock

      I think Santana is very under-rated. All the rating sites that commented on Santana said his K% was too high. And in June it was far too high. In July it was not good but would not kill you. In August he was a stud. Remember he was 17 years old. One of the youngest in the league. Growing pains are not surprising to me. I will provide a comparison to Santana’s August to the age 17 seasons in the complex leagues. I am not saying Santana is as good as Soto and Acuna. But I do think that he is a top 25 prospect for the Reds if you look things over closely.

      Time Player OPS BB% K% ISO BABIP
      August Santana 0.969 6.3% 13.9% 0.260 0.356

      Full Year Soto 0.960 7.7% 13.7% 0.189 0.403
      June/July Acuna 0.800 11.5% 13.6% 0.167 0.292

    • Stock

      The three guys I am looking forward to watching from AZ/DSL are Jose Salvador (in my top 25), Debby Santana (in my top 15) and Nick Hanson.

  8. AirborneJayJay

    I saw your tweet about wondering what you would do if MLBPA calls for a work stoppage. It could cause some grief for you, but I actually think it would benefit you. Depending on when the work stoppage would be called, if it is during the season, which it would most likely be, the minor leagues would be the only game in town. News on minor league games and prospects would be needed even more. Locally and nationally. Hard core Reds fans and even casual fans will need their baseball thirst quenched and minor league games will be their Gatorade. I think you could do quite well if a work stoppage were to happen. Have a plan in place if they call one in 2020 or 2021. It could be a boon for you if you are prepared.

    • Wes

      Holla at me Doug- I got a ton of topics for ya!

      We can finally get to the bottom if homer bailey was actually just a clone of Christian Bale or not.

  9. Michael E

    Doug, I read something a few weeks back about Michael Lorenzen practicing in the OF. He was a very good full-time OF in college as i recall (when he wasn’t pitching). Do you think the Reds give him a serious look in OF given he has shown a solid bat (great for pitcher of course)? I thought when they drafted him they’d go with him as a position player.

    His impact as a pitcher seems solid, but not great so far. He is still young and new PC could help, but he might have more upside as a full-time position player. Yes, I know, he was a pitcher that got fat pitches to hit, I don’t need that said. He was already a good hitter in college, so there is no reason to think he couldn’t shed rust and be a good hitter in the pros as well.

    I just wonder your opinion on his chances at a legit OF look the next two months?

    college stats I found

    Sickels report

    • Michael Smith


      I struggle to see where they would play him. They currently have 4 legit outfielders, possible 5 with Senzel and Ervin is a legit 5th possible 4th outfielder.

      Would we send him down to Louisville?

      • Michael E

        CF would be the likely spot, but yes, I too see not much room barring trade or injury. That said, I hate this talk of still looking for a CF. Figure out which of Puig, Schebler, Ervin and Lorenzen can handle it and play them there. Don’t bring in a B-Ham clone and screw up the entire off-season. I’d rather have average CF defense and a good bat than great CF defense and no bat at all killing rally after rally.