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If the Reds decide to be buyers at the trade deadline, where do you think they need the most help?

Shortstop or catcher. Not that there’s anything wrong with Jose Iglesias, or even Jose Peraza necessarily. And not that there’s anything wrong with Tucker Barnhart or Curt Casali, but everywhere else you look on the field there’s a player who has the ability to hit enough to carry the team for a time. That’s not coming from either of the two shortstops or the two catchers. With pitching you always want to look for difference makers – but unless the team is going after someone who is a long-term kind of guy, the price for pitching at the deadline is likely going to be way too high to make it worth it for where the team is at.

What do you think happens to Calten Daal following the season – with his service time, albeit he has been injured a lot, would he not be eligible to be drafted away from the Reds or free agency? Seems like the move to 2B might be permanent?

He’ll be a free agent after the season unless he’s added to the 40-man roster. While I haven’t talked with anyone about the move to second base, given that shoulder issues he’s had, it could be a safe bet that the slide over to second base could be permanent one. The Reds could add him to the 40-man and keep him in the organization. There’s going to be a lot of roster turnover, though. There are at least four guys on the current 25-man roster who will be free agents. Alex Wood is on the 60-day, so he’s not accounted for on the 40-man right now.

But the Reds will also need to add guys like Tyler Stephenson, Tony Santillan, TJ Friedl, Scott Moss, Ryan Hendrix, Andy Cox, Joel Kuhnel, and potentially guys like Mitch Nay, Ibandel Isabel, Aristides Aquino, Brian O’Grady, Brantley Bell, Tejay Antone, Nick Longhi…. So a lot of it could depend on not only how Daal performs in the second half, but how some of those guys do, too. There’s only so much room on the 40-man roster. Right now I would think he’s in the conversation for being added, but isn’t a lock yet, either.

Which of the AAA hitters in Louisville that are performing well this season (Aristides Aquino, Josh VanMeter, Nick Longhi, Brian O’Grady) have a realistic chance of getting regular playing time next season for the Reds? Name one minor league pitcher and one hitter that has really made you take notice that they have made a breakthrough?

Next season means taking into account the roster. And when looking at the 2020 projected roster it seems that two spots could be open for this group. One of the corner outfield spots, or second base. Yasiel Puig, at least as of today, will be a free agent after the year. That opens up a corner spot. Second base could also be open with the exit of Scooter Gennett in free agency, too.

The options could vary quite a bit. If the Reds feel that Josh VanMeter could be an every day player more so than anyone else in that group, then perhaps they put him at second base, play Derek Dietrich in left, and play Jesse Winker in right field. If they believe that Aristides Aquino, Brian O’Grady, or Nick Longhi are the answer more so, then that’s just going to put one of them into the corner spot in the outfield, and Dietrich likely staying at second base.

My opinion: for 2020, to me it feels that Josh VanMeter has an edge over Aristides Aquino, who has an edge over the other two guys – particularly as an every day option. With that said, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Reds gave Aquino a shot in right field next year.

I’ll name two pitchers for you: Packy Naughton and Scott Moss. Naughton’s having the better season. His stuff has taken a step forward from last year, too. Moss is racking up strikeouts in a big way, but the control has been an issue at times this year, too. But he’s throwing consistently at a higher range with his fastball than he was last year. He would have some games where he’s throwing now, but there were also other times when he would be a few MPH lower than that, too. And lately, the walk issues for Moss have gone away. You want to see it continue, but over the last month they’ve gone away and that’s real good to see. The hitter would be Josh VanMeter. He’s just carried forward the stuff he started showing in the second half of last year.

How far out do you think Taylor Trammell is from making the big league roster? Seems like he’s stagnated just a bit this year so far. 

He’s probably still a year away. But one thing to note is that when you’re talking about a guy as talented as Taylor Trammell is, that timeline can change with a quickness if things click.

This season has been a weird one. Since June of last year his power has essentially disappeared. In 565 plate appearances since June of 2018 began he’s slugging just .350. On one hand, you want to see more power. He’s currently sporting a Billy Hamilton like rate of power. On the other hand he’s a 21-year-old in Double-A who has shown power in the past and is a guy who everyone believes will hit for power in the future. That helps negate some of the “prospect value” that could be dinged on his resume.

There are some good signs, though. He’s striking out slightly less so far with Chattanooga in Double-A than he did in Advanced-A Daytona last year. And his walk rate is up significantly, too. Both of those are exactly what you want to see. He’s also been good on the bases, stealing 15 bases in 18 attempts this year. When the power starts playing more in games, his numbers are going to go up across the board.

Should we be worried by the performances to date of the outfield guys – Taylor Trammell, TJ Friedl, Jose Siri – at Double-A since they don’t seem to be beating down the doors to Triple-A?

I don’t think so. I hope I covered Trammell quite well with the answer above, so I won’t repeat that one. Friedl is back on the injured list with an ankle injury. And his numbers aren’t great in Double-A, but they aren’t bad, either. He’s hitting .235, which you would like to see come up, but he’s got a .347 on-base percentage and he’s slugging .385. He’s back in Double-A after finishing up there in the second half last season. His walk rate is up, his strikeout rate is the same, and his power is up. The difference is that his BABIP is at .277, which the lowest it’s ever been before in a season is .324. That should improve, and when it does, his numbers are going to start looking a lot better.

With Jose Siri, he’s kind of looking similar to what he was looking like last year. Walk rate has been ok-ish, but he’s striking out a lot still. The rate is down a small amount, but he’s still got a 30% strikeout rate. The big difference has been that his isolated power is about half of what it was last year. Like Trammell, the power is there and we’ve seen it. He hasn’t really gotten hot yet at any point this season. When he does it will be interesting.

But for Siri, the same thing applies today as it did a year ago, or even two years ago: He’s a big leaguer because that defense and speed will play very well as a bench player. But can he be a starter? He’s going to have to make more contact for that to likely happen. You can squint just enough and see it without big changes in his current game, though.

What was your first impression of Tyler Callihan on offense and defense after seeing him in Greeneville?

He only played in two games while I was there, so I didn’t get to see too much of him. He did make a few nice plays at third, showing good reactions and good hands. Small sample size, here, of course – but he looked good at third. At second he didn’t really get challenged by anything. He went 3-10 with a strikeout in the two games he played – all three hits were singles. In batting practice he stood out a little bit from most of the guys on the team, but the difference wasn’t like it was when Rece Hinds took batting practice, either. I’ll be back in Greeneville and should get more looks and hopefully that will give a better, more full picture.

Andy Sugilio – do you think the switch to full time lefty will improve his stock? Does he have more power potential from that side of the plate? What is his ceiling?

I’m not entirely sure if it will improve his stock or not. We’re going to have to see if it does anything for his ability to hit lefties – which he wasn’t doing this season as a right-handed hitter. I do think he’s got more power potential as a lefty, and I like the swing more from the left side, too. On pitches belt high and lower, the swing is very good from the left side. I haven’t seen him this year since the spring, but based on what I’ve seen in the past, his swing did get a bit choppy on pitches up.

As for his ceiling – probably an every day center fielder with plus defense who can hit for a little bit of average, a little bit of power, and steal plenty of bases. He might be the fastest player in the organization. There’s a long way to go before he’s that player, of course, but if things work out for him that’s the kind of guy he could become.

If talent evaluators from teams like Atlanta or the Dodgers, that seem to promote younger players, looked at the Reds talent, do you seen any players that they would want to promote faster than the Reds have?

Is that a function of talent development, or a function of those other teams simply having superior talent?

No, I think they’ve generally just had superior talent. The Cincinnati Reds have promoted guys with a quickness who had that rare “I’m destroying the league I’m in and also super talented” guys. The problem is, the Reds just haven’t had those guys too often. That’s not really a Reds thing, though – not many teams get more than one or two of those types in a decade. Jay Bruce flew through the system because he absolutely destroyed the baseball. Tony Cingrani flew through the system because he absolutely embarrassed anyone who stepped into the batters box against him.

Short of how the team messed around with Nick Senzel in 2018 when Eugenio Suarez went down, and then not calling him up in June when he was raking in Triple-A, and then what they did in March to send him back to minor league camp instead of have him on the opening day roster, I have a very hard time thinking of a player that was clearly “held back” for even a minor league promotion.

Last June there was a crowd clamoring for the Reds to promote Taylor Trammell after a hot start in Daytona. They didn’t promote him and it didn’t sit well with some fans because they saw Ronald Acuna and felt Trammell was that kind of guy. The Reds seemed to know that Trammell needed more time, though, because for the last 13 months, as noted above, he’s shown that he’s very talented, but not ready to fly through the minors and jump into the Majors. When guys are ready, teams usually know it and handle it properly. (Please don’t read into this as me slamming Taylor Trammell, who I have rated as the Reds top prospect. This is me saying that a guy like Ronald Acuna is an absolute historical outlier in terms of talent in Major League Baseball and comparing others to him isn’t fair.)

Do you have updates on how close Tyler Jay and Brandon Finnegan are to joining an affiliated team? How likely are we to ever see one or both of these LHP on the Reds?

This question was submitted earlier in the week. Tyler Jay has since been activated and assigned to Double-A Chattanooga. So that one was easy as far as how close he is to joining a team. With Finnegan, he’s currently listed on the injured list with a burned hand. I honestly have no update on him beyond that information.

As far as seeing them on the big league team – I’ll just say let’s wait and see how they pitch. When we last saw Finnegan he was a shell of his former self. The velocity was down and the offspeed stuff simply wasn’t there. Why? Could be the injury. Could have been mechanical. Heck, maybe it was both things and they were related. With Jay – I’d like to see him pitch in person before going too far into how likely it is that he’s going to be a future big leaguer.

Any insight into why Sal Romano has regressed this season?

There could be a few things at play. First, he’s not throwing as hard as he was. There were times last year when he was 96-98 MPH. That hasn’t been there this season. The other thing is, his role as a reliever is still very new to him. He’s started basically his entire life. It’s not always a smooth, quick transition for everyone. The routine is different, pitching three times in five days is different than two times in five days where one of those is a bullpen session at 85% and the other is 100 pitches at 100%. With that said, he’s been moved back into the Louisville rotation as of his last appearance. It will be interesting to see how that goes.

Where would you rank Braylin Minier and Michel Triana in the Reds farm system right now? An alternative question- any idea where these two may have been ranked in the 2019 draft?

I don’t know exactly where I would rank them right this second, either within the farm system itself or in the draft. But let me address the draft part first: I don’t think they’d be taken in the first 2 rounds. Not that many of the July 2nd guys would, but it’s just a different game. The guys that are being drafted played high school or college baseball. You got to see them in national showcases if they were a high schooler, and likely against other draft eligible, or higher end going to college pitchers. That’s not there for the July 2nd guys. Minier is 16. And while Triana is older – he’s 19 – how do you try to compare him against guys you’ve seen face 95 MPH in showcases or college followed up by a decent breaking ball?

In terms of where they’d rank in the system – generally speaking here, I’d say somewhere in the 20-30 range. That’s a pretty wide range, to be honest, and I know that. But the information available on both of them is very, very limited. Both in terms of available scouting reports from both inside and outside of the Reds organization, and ability to look at what they’ve done. Both guys should be at the complex in the Dominican through instructional league. At that point I’ll get a chance to talk to people who have seen them play in actual games, who have been around them (or at least talked with people who have) and have a much better feel, and much better information to allow me to feel a lot more comfortable about where to rank them.

With all of that said, from what I do know about the two of them is that they’ve got big upsides. And that counts for quite a bit. It probably does put both of them closer to that 20 spot than the 30 spot. But the fact that neither has played yet, and there’s no real data to work with, does make range of where they could slide in right now big.

What is the expectation for Michael Siani, at this point? Does he show signs of being a competent major league outfielder?

Ever since the day that he signed, Michael Siani’s defense has been ahead of his bat. Now, that’s more of me complimenting just how good his defense is than me dogging his bat. But, at least in the field, he’s a big league defender. He’s got very good speed, takes good routes, is athletic, and he’s got a strong arm. That stuff will play in the field, for sure.

At the plate there’s a lot of work to do. He’s just 19-years-old, so it’s not really a concern that he’s got to improve at the plate at this point in his career. He’s not hitting for much power right now, and while I don’t think there’s 20+ home runs in the future for him, there’s more power in there than he’s hitting for today. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit 15 homers in a season. He’s drawing walks at a good clip, and his strikeout rate, while not great, isn’t bad. You’d like to see it come down a little bit – but it’s just 21% right now, and that isn’t a problem.

So, yeah, the signs are there for him. You can see all of the pieces. He’s just got to keep working to put them all together.

16 Responses

  1. MK

    Your first answer answer above about Reds being buyers, I would disagree and say second base, offensively and defensively,is the biggest need and that just might be a rental for the stretch drive. Scooter will probably be ineffective for the remainder of the season and Dietrich has seen the carriage turn back into a pumpkin.He has become himself again. Maybe Senzel is the answer with a rental center fielder or Ervin playing there.

    • RojoBenjy

      Who looks to be a 2B rental or CF rental that would fit the bill?

    • RedsKoolAidDrinker

      I don’t think Iglesias’ bat has been that bad, has it? Plus I don’t believe the pitchers would be all that happy and his teammates if he were displaced as the regular starter there. More than anything we just need guys to remain out of their funks, which seems to be the case with Votto, Puig, and Suarez. Hard to disagree on catcher but we need to stay away from Ramos based on his receiving flaws. I would be looking at someone who is a 2nd tier closer for high leverage situations.

  2. RojoBenjy

    Item for discussion from all:

    Given the unfortunate injury to Angels’ Tommy LaStella, do you think the Angels see themselves as in the hunt seriously enough to overpay for a 2B right now?

    The Reds have a plethora of 2B at the moment.

    Where I’m going with this is, do the Reds have some tempting 2B players, plus some other players that could be packaged in a way that pries Jo Adel away?

    • RedsKoolAidDrinker

      It would take a piece equal to Adell, or just right behind him. Probably take Deitrich and Trammel, but I don’t think the Angels are looking to swap prospects. They can get their a reputable guy at 2B without dealing Adell.

  3. RojoBenjy

    By the way, thanks, Doug, for taking the time to answer these questions so thoughtfully.

  4. MFG

    Leave Senzel in CF this year, Scooter will eventually start hitting. Remember he has missed half the year. How long did it take Votto, Puig and others to start hitting?
    We need to relax and not panic as long as our pitching holds up we will be in most games.

    • MK

      I’m not panicking. I didn’t care for Gennett at second base before he was injured. He gave back half as many runs defensively as he gained offensively, I have a feeling he is not going too be 100% for the remainder of the season. That weakness in the groin muscle area is really going to sap his power potential. Without the power and his continued poor defense it makes second base an area that needs an upgrade for a pennant run..

  5. Dan

    Is Rece Hinds hurt? Seems he has only had a few at bats

  6. Dan

    What or where is Rece Hinds, is something holding him back

    • RojoBenjy

      That is the BURNING question.

      In the meantime, enjoy dreaming about this player in GABP.

      2018 High School HR Derby

      • Dan

        I was there, I go to both the Wrigley and Petco Games every year, he’s a good kid, also saw him play at IMG , just curious why he’s not playing

  7. DanD

    How much would it take to get Narvaez – C from Seattle

    • Wes

      Santillan or India headliner and some change would get it done. Him and Barnhart would make a great combo

  8. kevinz

    Does anyone know where Bautista got hit at? He is heating up hope not serious.

  9. Simon Cowell

    Great write as always Doug.
    Btw. I’m paying you now so you can stop hating on me.