Tomorrow will see the Winter Meetings come to an end with the Rule 5 Draft. We’ve taken a look at some options on the mound that the Cincinnati Reds could look at selecting. And we’ve taken a look a few more options in the field that the Reds could possibly take a chance on. Today we’re going to take the opposite look and talk about players who could be selected FROM Cincinnati by other teams.

When the Reds made their moves to protect players from the Rule 5 draft three weeks ago, one guy that was left unprotected stood out the most to me: TJ Friedl. The case for him is easy from where I stand. With a 26-man roster you get a player who can provide a decent at-bat off of the bench and plenty of speed as a pinch runner if you need him to. In the field he can play center field or in the corners. And there’s upside there to be a potential future starting center fielder if his bat develops just a little bit more. He’s more than useful in several areas right now, and could be a starter on the team in a year or two.

Beyond TJ Friedl, things feel a bit less certain. But that doesn’t mean there’s no one that couldn’t, or won’t draw interest. Perhaps the most speculated on player is Ibandel Isabel. The first baseman has two things that jump off of the page at you: His insane power and his insanely high strikeout rate.

Over the last three seasons he’s hit 90 home runs in 323 games played. He led two of the leagues he played in in homers, and finished in second in the other. Last season he played in the Southern League, where the second place finisher in home runs hit 21. Isabel hit 20 home runs….. that went at least 400 feet. He led the league with 26 home runs despite playing in just 91 games. 44.1% of the fly balls that he hit in 2019 went over the fence for home runs. The next best in the league was just over 21%. The gap between his rate and second best in the league was larger between the guy in second place and literally the guy who hit zero home runs on the season.

But along with that incredible power comes tons of strikeouts. In 2017 he struck out 35% of the time he stepped to the plate. In 2018 that rate jumped up to 36%. With the jump to Double-A in 2019 his strikeout rate went up again – this time to 42%. Only one player in the last two seasons has managed to get 200 plate appearances and top a 40% strikeout rate – Keon Broxton, who hit .167/.242/.275 with a 46% strikeout rate while seeing time with Baltimore and Seattle. The right team could talk themselves into maybe envisioning a Joey Gallo-like hitter with big home run numbers and big strikeouts – but Isabel has never walked as frequently as Gallo, which makes things a bit tougher to make work.

Baseball America noted that there could be some interest in Alfredo Rodriguez. The shortstop signed with Reds in 2016 for $7M, though they paid a little more since they faced penalties for going over their allotment for the year. Since signing he’s hit .252/.302/.310. He’ll also turn 26-years-old next season in June. He’s coming off of the best season of his career, where he hit .286/.325/.347 in Double-A in 104 games. But he went to Triple-A for the final month and hit .169/.261/.221. His complete lack of power is concerning – he’s hit five home runs in 313 career games – including just one last season. But if you need a quality defensive shortstop, or backup infielder – he could possibly be your guy.

Outfielder Narciso Crook is an interesting option for a 26th man on a roster. He was 23-years-old last season and spent most of his time in Triple-A, though there was about a month of time in Double-A, too. Between the two stops he hit .277/.332/.474 with 40 extra-base hits in 378 plate appearances. He also stole 10 bases. The selling point is that he can cover you at all three spots in the outfield as a back up – though he’s probably a bit stretched in center if you play him there every day. Still, he’s got the ability to cover three spots and provide some speed off the bench. It’s probably unlikely he goes, but it only takes one scout to believe and convince their team to take a player.

On the mound there are more than a few guys who show something or another that could have a team at least a little interested. A long shot, for sure given that he didn’t exactly have success in Low-A this year, but Jhon De Jesus has plenty of things working for him. He’s a big 6′ 4″ right-handed starter who can touch 98 MPH and has a potentially above-average slider. He also has a high spin rate on both of those pitches, too. There’s risk that he wouldn’t stick given where he’s at in his development, but the upside could possible entice a team – particularly with a 26-man roster to work with in 2020.

Relievers Connor Bennett, Dauri Moreta, and Diomar Lopez all dominated in A-ball out of the bullpen in 2019. The latter two throw 92-95 and touch higher, and showed off outstanding control during the year in Daytona. Bennett split time in Dayton and Daytona, where he posted a 2.21 ERA on the season while striking out 88 batters in 57.0 innings. His fastball isn’t quite as hard as the others, topping out around 95 – but he’s got a good slider to mix in there, too.

A few longer shot relievers to keep an eye on would be Alexis Diaz and Aneurys Zabala. Diaz, who can touch 98 with a good slider, but had struggles in Low-A this past season. Zabala can hit triple digits, topping out at 102 MPH – but he’s struggled with control for his entire career, and his second pitch has always been inconsistent.

For a fuller, more comprehensive list, you can check out the entire series that I ran a month ago when looking at who the Reds could ultimately protect from the draft.

26 Responses

  1. MK

    Rule V picks are always a gamble. But if I were taking a shot at a Reds player it would be Brandon Finnegan. If his health is still a question, he could spend the year on the 60 Day DL and then take another shot in 2021. if he can comeback at 85 per cent he would be a nice bullpen piece.

  2. Oldtimer

    Roy McMillan. Woody Woodward. Darrel Chaney. Three former Reds SS who had decent MLB careers despite lack of power in their bats.

    Rodriguez may be able to follow in their footsteps.

    • Doug Gray

      The game is different today. Pitchers used to not strike hitters out, too – but you aren’t going to find success today striking out 4 batters per 9-innings.

      • Oldtimer

        It is different. Ozzie Smith never hit with much power, either. I presume he would still be in any MLB starting lineup.

        The best pitchers back in the day struck out lots of batters, too.

      • Big Ed

        Oldtimer, can we stipulate that Ozzie was a quite a bit slicker with the glove than Darrell Chaney, and that Chaney’s 61 OPS+ didn’t make up for his mediocre defense? Woodward’s was 64.

        There were some true chumps as middle infielders in those days. Dal Maxvill, Ray Oyler, Hal Lanier. Yikes. And at least one guy like that showed up in every 5-cent pack of baseball cards. I must have had 23 of Jerry Lumpe one year.

      • Oldtimer

        Sure. Ozzie Smith was a defensive wizard. He is the only NL SS ever to have more career GG than Davey Concepcion. But when the trade for Garry Templeton was made, the consensus was that San Diego fleeced the Cardinals. Templeton was BY FAR the higher regarded player.

        The two best Reds teams of the 21st Century (2010 and 2012) both had starting SS and back-up SS with little or no power.

        Chaney was a career back-up SS who had 11 year MLB career. Couldn’t hit squat. Must have been decent with the glove. Lousy hitters who can’t play defense don’t last 11 years in MLB.

        Woodward started at SS for most of the 1968 to 1972 timeframe. Howsam really liked him but Sparky preferred Concepcion.

      • Oldtimer

        So I looked up the numbers. I focused on the six Reds teams in my lifetime (born 1951) that won NL Pennants. Arguably the best Reds teams of my lifetime in terms of results.

        1961 – Kasko and Cardenas played SS. They hit 7 HR.
        1970 – Woodward and Concepcion played SS. They hit 2 HR.
        1972 – Concepcion and Chaney played SS. They hit 4 HR.
        1975 – Concepcion and Chaney played SS. They hit 16 HR. Highest total.
        1976 – Concepcion and Chaney played SS. They hit 7 HR.
        1990 – Barry Larkin played nearly every game at SS. He hit 7 HR.

        The game in 2020 may be different but not that different. Strong defense at C, 2B, SS, and CF is still important. Strong hitting at 1B, 3B, LF, and RF likewise. Strong SP and reliable BP needed. That combination still wins lots of games.

  3. RojoBenjy

    I’ll be sore if they lose TJ Friedl.

    They pulled such a brilliant move in acquiring him when the rest of the league was out to lunch. I hope they aren’t out to lunch by letting another team grab him.

    • Doug Gray

      They really didn’t, though. They got him because they simply had more money than everyone else left from their draft pool, and they only had that because they had the #2 overall pick and a compensation round a pick and that meant their “overage” could be higher than anyone else in baseball before having to give up a 1st round pick. And they used every last dollar they were allowed to of that.

      This wasn’t the Reds being smarter than anyone else. It was simply them having more left over and using it.

      • RojoBenjy

        So, they were benefactors of being able to take advantage of an opportunity that no other team could. You hinted in the article that it is unwise for them to leave him unprotected. If they lose him for practically nothing, it would seem to cancel out the good fortune.

        Now if you think losing TJ is a wash, it’s a different story.

      • Oldtimer

        Like it not, maybe a reason why, but Friedl backed up in 2019 compared to 2018 results.

      • jim walker

        Unless the Reds make a pick or 2 in the Rule 5 draft, losing Friedl with 2 open spots on the 40 man roster is poor planning.

        They might have needed 1 or both those spots if they had signed a free agent ahead of the Rule 5 Draft, but; they could have put Friedl on the 40 man and then DFAed him if they signed somebody.

  4. JOHN CHURAN

    We have one of the weaker farm systems yet we worry about losing players. I would be more worried if we were loaded with top 100 players that were left unprotected. Just because they get picked doesn’t mean they will last a year. I think we will be just fine, likely ending up with a better player than we lose.

    • Doug Gray

      That’s the thing, though, the Reds don’t have one of the weaker farm systems. They just don’t have an elite farm system.

  5. Bill

    I don’t see the Reds losing anyone tomorrow. There are better players to stash on the roster for rebuilding clubs and more ready players to contribute than the ones the Reds left unprotected. Over the last several years, there’s been more “buzz” than “bang” from the Rule 5 draft. It will be interesting to see if the 26-man rosters significantly increase clubs’ interest in this unique talent acquisition process.

  6. Hoyce

    Dodgers missed out on all the big FA. Now trade Suarez to them for a haul. Ask for lux May and Pederson. Give up a few prospects to get it done.

    • Oldtimer

      I would like to double my life savings (45 year career) on that bet. Take me up on it?

      That trade simply will not happen.

  7. Hoyce

    Why? From reds POV Or some other reason? Say the reds offered Suarez Lodolo and raisel Iglesias? U don’t think dodgers would bite?? Not saying I would offer that. But why are u a naysayer????

  8. SteveO

    Reds select Mark Payton, an OF from the A’s. Didn’t lose anyone. Great news. Friedl’s injury must have scared them off. Too many OFs on the 40 man roster. Trade in the works?