While the Reds are in Philadelphia inventing new ways for their bullpen to blow up, we’ll check out the farm system and see if there’s anything down there to spark our interest and maybe give us some hope.  Also remember the MLB Draft takes place next week and that the players selected there will go a long ways in stocking the rosters of the Rookie level Billings Mustangs and AZL Reds.  Billings begins play on June 18th and the AZL Reds start on June 20th.

AAA Louisville Bats

The Reds needed to find a roster spot to promote Ivan DeJesus, (.303/.378/.384/.762 OPS), to the big league roster and they released Donald Lutz to make the room.  Lutz had a .554 OPS and was on the DL in Louisville with an elbow injury.

Josh Satin was activated from the DL and is 3 for 5 with a 2B in his first two games back.  Eugenio Suarez is still hot, .260/.353/.452/.805, but seems to have no place to play regularly in the big leagues with Cozart and Phillips both still getting the job done.  Steve Selsky, .299/.353/.425/.778, should have gotten consideration for being Byrd’s replacement, but likely was not perceived as versatile enough for the big league bench that is regularly kept short handed by design.

AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos

C Lou Marson joined the Blue Wahoos from extended spring training and C Julio Morillo was assigned to the Billings roster.  Both C Kyle Skipworth and C Yovan Gonzalez are on the DL in Pensacola.

OF/1B Kyle Waldrop, .283/.313/.462/.775, had to think he might have a shot at replacing Byrd as well since he was the best hitting OF already on the Reds 40 man roster.  Starting pitchers Timothy Adleman (1.58) and Keyvious Sampson (1.91) both have sub 2 ERAs.

High A Daytona Tortugas

Alex Blandino looks to be the real deal.  He’s hitting .321/.403/.444/.847 where the league OPS is .650.  A promotion to AA should be in his near future.  Phillip Ervin on the other hand is doing his best to prove that his 1.121 OPS in April was a fluke.  He put up a .585 OPS in April and is 0 for 9 so far in June.  Taylor Sparks has amassed 64 SO and only 3 HR to go along with his .585 OPS.

Barrett Astin (2.17) is surprisingly thus far the best starter on a very good pitching staff.  Nick Travieso (3.46), who is just a bit below league average, is surprisingly the worst.

Low A Dayton Dragons

SP Mark Armstrong was placed on the DL with an elbow sprain and P Junior Morillo was added to the roster from extended spring training.  The Dragon, like the Tortugas, have a very good starting rotation.  Seth Varner’s 3.27 ERA is the worst in the rotation and it is still far better than the league average of 3.57.

C Garrett Boulware has a very good .277/.376/.436/.812 slash line and a team leading 4 HR while splitting catching duties with Jose Ortiz.  OF Brian O’Grady, .238/.383/.354/.737, leads the team with 39 BB and 15 SB.

21 Responses

  1. Michael J Hampton

    Really sad the way the Reds mismanaged Lutz’s career. What are Lutz’s options now, signing with another organization? The way the Reds handled Lutz’s development is a perfect blue print of how not to develop a player.

    • PARED84

      could you please clarify? I am not disagreeing I just don’t understand. Thanks

      • Michael J Hampton

        Once he got some consistent playing time Lutz put up pretty good numbers in the lower minor leagues and then when he moved up to AA the Reds put him on the 40 man roster. Once he was on the 40 man, in 2013 and 2014 the Reds interrupted his playing time and development multiple times by bringing him up to the big leagues only to sit him on the bench for long stretches with only the occasional start or pinch hit. He never started 2 games in a row and rarely if ever started 2 games in a week. The Reds (particulary Price) preferred to play Schumaker, Benadino, or the ball boy.

        For example, in 2014, after a hot start in AA Pensacola (.360/.412/.685 in 23 games) the Reds brought him up to the big club and set him on the bench for a month or so. They then sent him to AAA where he got off to a slow start but just as he started to hit again they brought him up and set him on the bench, again. Finally they sent him back to AAA. They then brought him up as part of the September callups, but still refused to play him.

        Lutz is a power hitter, potentially 20+ HR who needed to work on his plate discipline and he needed consistent playing time, particularly at the AA and AAA level. That opportunity was taken away from him and he was not even given an opportunity to play when he was brought up to the big leagues. Price chose to play Schumaker, Bernadino, and even play players out of postiion (Pena and Frazier) rather than play Lutz.

        Lutz, even with all the interruptions to consistent playing time and development still managed to put up a minor league career .806 OPS (.270/.336/.470). He played winter ball last year (55 games before the Reds shut him down) for Obregon to try and get more plate appearances and put up a very respectable .280/.363/.473 (.837 OPS). He got off to a slow start again at AAA this season only playing 13 games before injuring his elbow and undergoing season ending TJ surgery. His slash line for the 13 games was only .190/.292/.262, but he was starting to hit some over his last 5 games before the injury (.286/375/.333).

        I liked Lutz, I don’t think he would have ever been a super star, but if the Reds would have developed him properly, I think he could have been a very serviceable corner OF/1B option for the Reds. If he had not been injured this season he could have platooned with Byrd and when Byrd went down he could have filled that postiion and with consistent playing time, put up decent numbers.

      • Craig Z

        I agree. He started playing baseball later than most and needed consistent playing time to get better.

    • msanmoore

      I don’t know enough facts to say “mis-managed” or not … but this happens all the time. Kid shows promise and then can’t really make it at higher levels. We like to view guys like Strasburg or Harper as the norm, but they aren’t at all. I watched Lutz about the same as most Reds fans. I just don’t think he had “it” in the end.

      • Michael J Hampton

        Here’s an interesting 2014 quote from Doug Gray:

        “Donald has played winter ball nearly every year. He’s spent time in the Mexican League, the Arizona Fall League and the Australian League. I would guess he would be back in action somewhere, but I don’t know if he will be or not.

        I’ve been an advocate for getting him more playing time. He’s about to finish up his second option season in the big leagues and he’s spent months in the bigs and he’s never started back-to-back games. I can’t fathom that for a guy who plays multiple positions, much less when you consider how left field has been the last two seasons or that first base has been wide open without Votto for most of the last year. I don’t understand it.

        It was a similar thing with Neftali Soto who came up and then would be used as a pinch hitter once or twice a week with no starts. I’m shock that neither guy hit much (no, not really – it’s a tough game to have success in getting two at bats a week).”

  2. Michael Smith

    If I remember correctly Doug Gray wrote an article about Ervin and his babip has bottomed out. Not a fluke as much as violent swing in the opposite direction from April.

    • Tom Diesman

      Well, what is more worrisome is that his BB% dropped from 13.2% to 7.2% from April to May. I would imagine that being less selective at the plate had a lot to do with his BABIP falling from .357 to .222. We’ll see, his hot April was positive, but he’s going to have to bounce back and readjust to make use of his talents.

  3. IndyRedMan

    Suarez .324 in his last 10 games w/3 hrs, 4 walks, 5 k’s. Move the Toddfather to LF and let him play 3B. BP is playing pretty well so maybe they could move him at some point and let him have a shot at the playoffs. We need to have some reason to watch this team and Schumaker, Negron, Marquis, Boesch, etc. aren’t it

  4. I-71_Exile

    Your mention of Blandino caused me to look him up and you are right—he looks like the real deal. I was interested to see that he’s from Stanford which preaches plate discipline and contact above all else. In Blandino’s case, the Reds look to be prioritizing OBP like Walt said they would. That said, “Alex Blandino” sounds a lot like “Alex Trevino” and that picks a mental scab that I thought had long healed.

    • lwblogger2

      Ahhh, Alex Trevino… What a disaster. The guy never stood a chance being the catcher to follow Bench.

    • Michael E

      Not purely OBP, but finding hitters that don’t K much. There is a difference. I want hitters that put the bat on the ball when they do swing. I don’t care if they walk 20 times or 200 times, but that they are NEVER an easy out and can foul off oodles of pitches if need be (make that pitcher work his tail off).

      • Steve Mancuso

        >>I don’t care if they walk 20 times or 200 times

        You’d fit right in with the current front office. Last I checked, walks contributed directly to runs. Not sure what the run expectancy is for “fouling off oodles of pitches.” Never seen that as an offensive column anywhere.

    • Michael E

      That is the Royals and Giants lately, hitters that are aggressive, but rarely swing and miss. May not walk as much as some OBP fans would like, but very rarely K which means a much greater chance of run production. An empty AB is the most worthless and K’ing is empty (Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds empty).

  5. Art Wayne Austin

    Lutz got his chances, but didn’t look comfortable at the plate. The story about Birdie Tebbetts and Frank Robinson’s first year comes to mind. Frank made an indeliable impression on Birdie as a big league star in the making. He never let up on Frank when he was not giving his best. Birdie was right about the talent, Frank’s effort made him a Hall of Famer.

    • Michael J Hampton

      It’s unfair to compare Lutz (or anybody) to Frank Robinson. But, I don’t see how you can say Lutz got his chances when only got one or two plate appearances a week when he should have been getting his playing time in at AA and then moving on to AAA. How are you going to get comfortable at the plate with those few plate appearances? It’s hard for a young player who had limited AA experience and almost no AAA experience to continue his development especially when his MiL playing time was constantly being interrupted by callups where he then he got almost no playing time at the ML level. It pretty much boils down to luck in that small a sample size. Look at Negron last year, he hit it just right and people on here fell in love with him and wanted to replace BP or Cozart with him. His minor league numbers didn’t support the ML numbers he was putting up, but everyone on here talked about how he was the real thing. Does Negron look comfortable, now? Things are evening out, and you’re still not seeing the real Negron. Don’t get me wrong, I like Negron, but when it’s all said and done, his ML numbers will fall a lot closer to his career MiL numbers.

      Each time Lutz was called up, they sat him, then gave him an occasional appearance and unfortuantely for him, he wasn’t as lucky as Negron in that limited sample size. If he would have gotten more consistent playing time and would have approached his MiL career numbers he would have certainly been an upgrade over Schumaker, Bernadina, et. al.

    • Michael E

      Lutz NEVER got a chance. He’d start one game and then rot for three or five, with just one or two pinch hit attempts. That’s not getting a chance.

      He looked good as a Red when he played, but Dusty simply would not play the man more than once a week when he was up with the club.

  6. Shchi Cossack

    From the view of the Old Cossack’s Recliner, the attempt to field a competitive team at the major league level in 2015 is done…toast. The collapse in Philly after the sweep of the Nats drove a stake through the heart of the 2015 season. So where do the reds go from here?

    I believe the starting pitching staff going forward from the 2016 season is solid and covered, with depth and talent. The youngsters have demonstrated enough talent and that talent is spread nicely from the major league level through the upper minor league levels. That’s a big plus for a short rebuilding effort in 2015 and 2016.

    Mesoraco is an acceptable defensive catcher, but certainly not superior or elite. The fact that Mesoraco can provide superior, if not elite, offense from the catcher position enhances his perceived value. The flip side of that coin is the complete lack of offensive contributions from LF. Rather than continuing with the black hole in LF and going with just adequate defense up the middle from the catcher position, quit the charade of rehabbing Mesoraco for catcher duty in 2015 and get him in LF for a rehab assignment, then move him to LF for the remainder of 2015 as soon as he adapts to the position. But what do the Reds do with the catcher position going forward if Mesoraco proves equally adequate defensively in LF as he performs at catcher?

    Barnhart is a superior, if not elite defensive catcher. I don’t think anyone realistically questions Barnhart’s defense behind the plate. Barhnart is not an everyday offensive catcher, but the Old Cossack contends that Barnhart can hit at the major league level, more than just adequately, against RH pitching. Barnhart has only hit RH pitching at the major league level with a .244/.300/.397 slash in 89 PA (SSS alert), but after a full season (his only experience) at AAA in 2014, Barnhart has slashed .278/.333/.528 in 41 (SSS alert) against RH pitching at the major league level in 2015. The SSS at the major league level would be partucularly concerning (see Cozart) but Barnhart has produced good offensively throughout his minor league career against RH pitching, with a slash line of .283/.362/.399 in 1325 PA.

    A possible catching platoon going forward should not be discounted if an equally good defensive catcher, who can hit LH pitching effectively, can be added to the platoon. Do the Reds have a superior defensive catcher in the system who has proven effective offensively against LH pitching? Joe Hudson has excellent defensive catching skills and has slashed .284/.372/.457 against LH pitching in 180 PA (currently playing at the A+ level). Could Hudson be ready in 2016? Almost certainly not, but he might possibly be ready by mid-2016 if not more realistically by the start of 2017. Hudson would also not be effective as a full-time catcher, but a platoon of Barnhart and Hudson might provide very good offense from the catcher position (as well as pinch hitting support) and would certainly provide excellent, up-the-middle defense from the catcher position. Such a platoon would also be cost-effective and ready for a possible playoff run in 2017 after a partial rebuild in 2015 and 2016.

    If the Reds can address the LF and catching positions, in a cost-effective manner, going forward, the necessary partial rebuild would be accelerated for quick turn around and a possible playoff run in 2017.

    • lwblogger2

      It’s my understanding regarding Mesoraco, that he will need the hip surgery sooner or later, even if he isn’t catching. They may as well write off 2015, take care of the surgery, and then get him working on learning LF. That all assuming that LF is where he needs to be, which I’m not convinced of.

      • Shchi Cossack

        Yes, Mesoraco will need surgery, but from all accounts, full recovery in time for the start of spring training would allow surgery immediately after the season. I have seen nothing to indicate that Mesoraco can not play effectively (defensively and offensively) as long as he is not catching and placing Mesoraco on the 15-day DL rather than the 60-day DL tells me that Mesoraco can play effectively offensively and defensively as long as he is not catching.

        With off-season surgery, Mesoraco should be able to catch against LH starting pitching in 2016 while playing LF against LH starting pitching, effectively splitting the platton between C & LF in 2016. Playing LF for the remainer of 2015 against game competition will enhance Mesoraco’s experience in LF significantly more than just spring training experience in 2016.

        Such an arrangement would allow a full season to develop or aquire an excellent defensive catcher to platoon with Barnhart for 2017 and if that experiment falls flat in 2016, then Mesoraco is still available as the primary catching option in 2017 with nothing lost in the process, but a potential windfall gained defensively if such a catching platoon can be created.