The minor leagues kicked off the season yesterday around the country. The Cincinnati Reds farm system could have had a better night as they went a combined 0-4. But while the teams all lost, that doesn’t mean there weren’t things to take away on the positive side of the ledger.

I was at the game in Dayton, and it’s the only game that I watched all of the way through. Only the Bats game was also available to watch, and I was able to check out some of the highlights from that game – but more on that later. The Dragons lost 3-2, on the back of two of the top prospects in the Rays organization. Wander Franco might be the best prospect I’ve had a chance to ever see play. He doubled, walked twice, and scored two runs in the game for Bowling Green. On the mound the Hot Rods ran out 2018 1st rounder Shane McClanahan, who was throwing 94-96 and touching 98 from the left side – while racking up 9 strikeouts with just one walk in 5.0 innings. Some days that’s going to happen.

With that said, particularly against McClanahan, who only gave up three hits, one hit jumped out at me. Miguel Hernandez doubled against him in the second inning. As noted above, McClanahan was bringing absolute heat all night. And particularly in the first two innings he was more 95-96, consistently. Hernandez took a pitch on the outer third of the plate and doubled over the right fielder. What stood out to me was how well the ball carried.

If you’ve read the site for a few years now then you know I’ve been driving the “Mariel Bautista” train since I first saw him in spring training of 2017. Last night he went 2-4 with two singles. While I’ve seen him play in a few games out in Goodyear during spring training, last night was the first time I had an opportunity to see him play in a game that counted in person. A lot of the things translated from what I had seen in Goodyear. The thing that just sticks out to me, from batting practice to the game, is his ability to barrel a baseball. He’s got plenty of bat speed, but he also controls the barrel well along with it.

In Daytona it was the Reiver Sanmartin show. He tossed 6.0 dominant innings for the Tortugas to welcome the new field turf to the league. The lefty is the forgotten player that came over in the Sonny Gray trade. When he was traded for the scouting report was solid, with a little bit of upside in there. Last night he wasn’t throwing quite as hard as he had in the past (89-92 was the report at the time of the trade). His fastball was 86-90 on the night, but it was moving and working well. He was also mixing his change up and slider in there while pounding the strikezone. The ball stayed on the ground when guys did make contact, generating 9 ground outs with just 2 fly outs. Strong organizational debut for the lefty.

In Chattanooga they kicked things off last night, welcoming the Lookouts back to the Reds family. Things didn’t go as planned as they fell 6-3. TJ Friedl had himself a big game, though. The outfielder had two hits, including a triple. He also drove in a run. To top things off he gunned out a runner at the plate. Unfortunately the Lookouts are the only Double-A team that doesn’t have the video package for MiLBtv, so there’s no ability to go back and watch any of the game.

Louisville hit the road to start their season. With a 4:05pm afternoon start in Toledo, it was probably for the best with an early start as the game temperate was in the 30’s. Josh VanMeter had two hits, including a double. The Bats offense was patient, drawing seven walks in the game – including two each by Sherman Johnson, Christian Colon, and Juan Graterol. The offense did struggle to come up with the timely hits, though, as they left 13 runners on the bases.

26 Responses

  1. kevinz

    I get not much Power. Good start for Lopez as well. Could he be a Peraza type? Less speed makes a lot of contact. I am hyped for Bautista trying to Lower it, with him only being in A ball.

  2. The Duke

    Miguel Hernandez, Mike Siani, and Mariel Bautista are a nice troika of prospects to check out in Dayton. Power isn’t the calling card for any of them, but all 3 bring good all around games.

    Taylor Trammell walked in his first 3 plate appearances of the season before striking out the next 2.

    • Doug Gray

      I think you might be underselling Bautista in the power department.

      • The Duke

        I’ll need to see it outside of Billings before I believe it.

      • kevinz

        What the ceiling for his Power Doug? I am curies since he seems to have good feel to hitting. Thanks too if answer.

      • Oldtimer

        I saw Bautista hit a long HR in Orem UT last summer. Playing for Billings but not in Billings.

    • MK

      I understand Siana has requested be be introduced as and referred to as Michael.

      • wes

        I heard he liked “The Poison” as in cyanide (Siana) poison.

      • Cguy

        I wonder if Mikey’s younger brother (whom I hope the Reds draft this year) wants to be referred to as Samuel?

  3. Bob Anderson

    Winker in CF………my gawd. They really are going to do it.

    • The Duke

      We should just go all in on this strategy and have Votto at SS

      • MK

        Any place but first base he has been awful there so far. I have counted six physical, mental or mechanical blunders defensively so far that have had negative game consequences.

    • Kindell

      Let’s all think back to the comments during Spring Training and how people were literally suggesting Schebler is just a better option than Senzel in CF.

      The only thing worse was the Castillo to AAA suggestion.

      • Doug Gray

        I don’t know…. the Reds not only suggested, but are actually playing Jesse Winker in center field.

        Ok, that’s not as bad as sending Castillo to Triple-A, but my goodness it’s closer than it should be. I am a big Jesse Winker fan – but he’s as much of a center fielder as I am a professional chef. Sure, I can cook. But there’s a difference.

      • Wes

        One more time for the record. No one (that I saw or atleast me) said Castillo should start in 3A. After his 3rd preseason start he had an 18 era and mahle had 0 and wood was suppose to be in rotation. Open competition is what I suggested and still suggest. Mahle should be competing for a rotation spot vs just giving it to the new low man on pole which is now Roark.

        I hope Castillo and mahle are both major parts of this rotation for next decade

    • kevinz

      awful idea rather Puig in CF, Winker in LF, Kemp in RF, if have this group playing.

  4. Nep O'Tism

    Doug, any reason you think Friedl didn’t start the season in AAA?

    He had nearly 300 PA in AA last year and hit .276/.359/.360 which is lacking power, but otherwise pretty decent. I know the Steamer projections don’t like him much, but is him at AA just a matter of no space for him in AAA? Or are they just hoping for him to get stronger in AA?

    • The Duke

      A .719 OPS in half a season doesn’t exactly demand promotion

      • donny

        i can think of much worse who jumped up levels. Just to mention one off hand Philip Ervin,who did it every stop. Aquino and much more. I thought Friedl had handled himself well in double AA. About as well as he did at A, A+.

  5. kevinz

    Friedl not a power guy. Playing in the Park played in, Kills Power. TJ the Power he does have, will show better in AAA.

    • The Duke

      IL isn’t much better than the Southern league for power. He’ll likely show more power in Cincinnati than he ever shows in the minors. I could see Friedl as a 10 HR guy. The real question is if he can have enough OBP value to get a starting spot and be a leadoff hitter.

      • kevinz

        The old home Park in AA killed average and Power. I am not sure about rest of league though. I agree Power show the most in MLB, if he makes the contact to show it. That is surely the big Question I Hope he does, if not He could be a nice backup type.

  6. Shamrock

    How bad does this offense have to get before Ward loses his job?
    One could also argue that Scooter is the heart and soul of the Cincinnati Reds. Let’s somehow hope this team is still at least halfway relevant by the time he gets back.

    On the minor league side, I was kind of surprised that Packy Naughton didn’t get the Opening Day nod, but was very pleasantly surprised with the new guy San Martin’s performance.
    (I’m not sure either one of these guys has “the stuff” to make it too much higher up the ladder, but am looking forward to watching them anchor the Tortugas rotation this summer)

    • kevinz

      I am not sure if it Ward or not. I have issues with the Lineups Bell has put out there. Plus turning Winker into a Platoon player already? Some decisions this team makes, sure make me smh alot of times lol