Three weeks ago we looked at the stories from the pitchers side of things as we head into spring training. Today we are going to tackle things from the position side of things.

There are two players that stand out as ones to really keep an eye on above the others as spring training gets underway and they are both outfielders. Yorman Rodriguez and Jake Cave both represent different, but similar issues when it comes to how the roster could be shaped.

Yorman Rodriguez, the 23-year-old Venezuelan outfielder is out of options and must stick to the 25-man roster or the Reds will risk losing him to another team. In 2015 he got out to a rough start, hitting just .218/.250/.378 over the first five weeks of the season for the Triple-A Louisville Bats. He turned things around over the next nine weeks though as he began to make adjustments and hit .302/.343/.460 in 202 plate appearances. Unfortunately on July 21st he played his last game of the season as he suffered a leg injury. He returned to play winter ball in Venezuela for a few weeks in November.

Jake Cave was the first of two Rule 5 draft picks that the Reds made in December. The outfielder has to stick to the 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the New York Yankees. He spent all but the final week of the season in Double-A Trenton in the Yankees system. His April and May were strong, hitting .293/.382/.377 with 25 walks and 34 strikeouts in 223 plate appearances. The next two months were a real struggle though as he hit just .230/.268/.282 with just 12 walks and 43 strikeouts in 229 plate appearances. Things did rebound well from there over the final five weeks, thanks partially to a .429 BABIP, hitting .336/.388/.464 with nine walks and 29 strikeouts in 140 plate appearances.

Those two guys both have a shot to play center field or either of the corner spots. They represent different types of players with Rodriguez being the more toolsy kind of player with lots of upside, while Cave is less toolsy, but perhaps a little bit safer to be a 4th outfielder.

Of course, there’s another outfielder that may will have their eyes on. Jesse Winker isn’t on the 40-man roster, and he’s got no Triple-A experience under his belt. With that said, he’s also the teams top position prospect just about everywhere that you look and in some places he’s already projected to be the teams second best hitter in 2016 behind Joey Votto. For service time reasons, despite the fact that the Reds absolutely have a need at the position that he plays, it’s highly unlikely that he breaks north with the team. If he does have a strong spring though, his time in Triple-A could be cut short if the team finds a need to cycle someone else into the outfield.

Less heralded, but possibly quite valuable to the roster could be Scott Schebler. He came over in the Todd Frazier trade. He struggled in Triple-A in 2015, but has hit the cover off of the ball in previous years and performed well in a September call up that was limited to just 37 plate appearances. He’s got some good power in his bat and that could certainly play well in Great American Ballpark. He has options remaining, which could come into play, but he’s a left fielder with some pop in his bat and could certainly fill a need on the roster with a good showing in the spring.

Tyler Holt joined the Reds in September after being claimed from the Indians and managed to get into five games. Outside of 21 plate appearances in the big leagues with Cleveland, he spent the 2015 season in Triple-A where he hit .302/.386/.370 with 50 walks and 62 strikeouts. He’s a contact oriented hitter who has had success in the minor leagues, but he’s struggled in the Majors with that approach on a limited basis over the last two years. The one thing that plays into the favor of Holt is that he’s probably the second best center fielder coming into spring training behind Billy Hamilton and the team may want that kind of defender on the roster just in case.

The last guy that will have a bunch of eyes on him will be Jose Peraza. The infielder was acquired in the Todd Frazier trade, but currently seems to be blocked on the roster by Brandon Phillips at second base, or Zack Cozart at shortstop if the Reds wanted to try and slide him back over to shortstop to see if he can make that position work. Among the offseason trades, Peraza is the highest ranking prospect and while there’s some concern about how his game will translate, the tools are there for him to be a valuable every day player. With his being blocked, it’s unlikely that the Reds will bring him north as a 22-year-old utility player and are far more likely to send him to Triple-A to play every day and be ready to step in if the opportunity arises.

About The Author

Doug Gray is the owner of and and as you guessed it, passionate about the Cincinnati Reds and baseball in general. He's been writing about baseball since 2006. You can also find some of his work at The Athletic where he writes about the Reds farm system. You can keep tabs with him on twitter @dougdirt24. He can also be reached via email here.

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37 Responses

  1. doctor

    Great point on Peraza staying at AAA, hopefully at SS, given what we know right now. Though Blandino may push Peraza to 2B or vice versa at AAA if Blandino is advanced.

    Early projection/assumptions, sure feels like a Schebler/Yorman platoon in LF, Jake Cave/Billy for CF, Bruce in RF. Tyler Holt would seem odd man out as that would be 5 outfielders, assuming Cave(or Schebler) has an adequate spring given that he is a Rule 5 kid and supposedly can play all 3 OF spots.

    AAA Louisville should be a good team to watch with Peraza, Blandino, Winker and the young arms who don’t make it in spring training.

    • doctor

      Dang, forgot about Adam Duvall in the mix as well for LF, which might push Schebler back to AAA.

      • Patrick Jeter

        I think I might rather have a Schebler/Duvall split rather than Yorman… it preserves the whole “right and lefty with pop” narrative!

      • ohiojimw

        I agree in a world where roster numbers and options et al didn’t come into play. However with YRod and Cave both needing to stick on the 25 man or likely be lost to the org, I think Schebler or Duvall draw a ticket to Louisville as long as Jay Bruce is still on the team (or if the trade return on him includes somebody to drop into RF).

      • Hotto4Votto

        I agree with you Jim. The Reds really shouldn’t risk losing Rodriguez. He’s still too young and has shown enough development for his age to warrant keeping him on the roster, especially in a non-competitive year like 2016. At the very least, Rodriguez offers better defense and base-running than Schebler or Duvall. I could see an argument that sends Cave back to the Yankees, but I like that he offers a LH complement to Hamilton who can’t hit at all from that side and I don’t really see much more upside in keeping Holt over Cave. Especially when Holt has options. Duvall has an option left, so I believe, outside of a Bruce trade it will essentially come down to Schebler and Duvall for that last OF spot. Schebler offers a platoon option and would be my preference. Of course Duvall could still make the club as the 2nd INF behind DeJesus.

      • lwblogger2

        I’m with OhioJim and Hotto4Votto. Rodriguez isn’t my favorite and I’m not sure he’ll ever be a good MLB player let alone a starter. That said, he’s still only 23 and his tools should get him a chance to stay on the roster and see what he can do. This is especially true on a non-contending team.

    • wkubas

      I have the opinion that Blandino will start and stay in AA Pensacola. Blandino has hit poorly both, on last year’s promotion to Pensacola and the Arizona Fall League.

      Blandino’s advantage is that his play is both at second base and at short stop.

  2. dan

    I would not be the least bit surprised if Brandon Phillips finds himself as a utility player, pinch hitter type of player. Nothing the league could do about it as some have suggested. Nothing in the CBA dictating that players play based upon salary. Of course if that does happen we can expect DatDude to go to social media and rip the organization. The Reds could make his life so miserable that he demands a trade.

    • jessecuster44

      Uh Uh! Bryan Price has said BP will be the team’s starting 2B.

    • doctor

      The players union would file a grievance as I have thought they have done so in the past. The Reds would be forced to play him or release him. So best case is Reds play him, he plays well but gets disturbed by all the losing and accepts a trade at some point in the season.

      • lwblogger2

        I’m not sure they’d be able to get to far in a grievance as far as playing time but you’re right that they may indeed file one. It doesn’t really hurt them to aside from costs associated with the process. The Reds biggest issue in not playing BP if BP is still productive is that it leaves a bad taste in pretty much all MLB players’ mouths. I could see the thinking from players being:

        “Don’t try to actually win games by playing your best secondbasemen! No, bench him and probably lose more games in the name of player development for some rook who hasn’t proven himself in the minors yet! What a bunch of mularky!!”

        Good luck getting people to want to play for you when you do stuff like that. I wouldn’t want to be a Red if I had other options knowing they treated one of their players that way. The only way the Reds can pull off something like that is if BP struggles and they have a legitimate excuse to play someone else at 2B.

    • Doug Gray

      While I can see Phillips winding up in a utility role, I can’t see it happening in April. He absolutely, without question, performed well enough in 2015 to keep his job. If the Reds had Corey Seager banging down the door at his position, that would be another thing. But they don’t. While I believe that the pendulum has probably swung a bit too far in the Jose Peraza can/can’t hit debate towards the “can’t hit/won’t hit” side, he’s not shown enough to take the job away from Phillips at this point and spring training performance shouldn’t change that.

  3. WVRedlegs

    I have this feeling that the Reds will start out 2016 carrying 6 OF’s on the roster. Duvall, YorRod and Cave in LF, BHam and Holt in CF, Bruce and Cave in RF. Duvall will also be the backup 3B/1B and DeJesus will be the other INF bench player. Schebler hasn’t done anything at AAA yet, has options and will find himself at Louisville.
    This will be the breakout year for YorRod, at least many are hoping. Just get a load of his arm in the OF, when you get the chance. Frozen ropes and lazers.
    And Holt will push BHam for the starting CF job. BHam has needed some competition and a competent backup.

    • Patrick Jeter

      I highly doubt Holt pushes BHam for the starting job… but I sure hope he does! It’d be nice to have a pair of 2+ WAR OFers that we could pencil in.

      • WVRedlegs

        Ohh, don’t be a Debbie Doubter this early on Holt. The Old Cossack has me coming around and believing more in Tyler Holt. He has had two partial seasons at AAA and did well in both. At some point this season, I’d like to see a few games with Holt and Peraza in the top 2 batting slots and BHam batting 9th and let them run wild against a low SB% catcher. (With a presumption that they’ll get on base some.)

      • lwblogger2

        Usually run on the pitcher but running on a poor-armed catcher can also work. When I was playing, there were certain pitchers who if you would have been running on me I probably wouldn’t have been able to throw you out, the jumps were that good 😉

    • ohiojimw

      I think Peraza or Schebler make the 25 man roster for “political” reasons if nothing else.

      It makes a lot of sense to carry Peraza on the 25 man and set up a three man rotation at 2B and SS with Peraza loosely rotating between the two spots to keep Phillips and Cozart fresh. That is presuming of course that Cozart is even healthy enough to be on the field and play 4 days a week at the start of the season which for now is still a leap of faith. But such a system would get Peraza regular ABs several days a week while giving the Reds a chance to see him at both positions.

      It appears Duvall also has an option which I think could make him odd man out in favor of Schebler, partly for political reasons but also because Schebler’s LH bat pairs with YRod for platoon purposes and provides potential LH power off the bench. I do think this could be a close call though since as noted Duvall does have the added utility of playing both corner IF positions such as he does.

  4. vegastypo

    What I have heard about Schebler from out here on the West Coast is that he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He was a 26th-round draft pick, and was overlooked due to being from Iowa. One guy told me he thinks Schebler probably wouldn’t emerge as an everyday guy on a really good team, but more of a fourth outfielder. But the Reds haven’t exactly set the bar very high for left field, so who knows?

  5. Patrick Jeter

    Doug, a few commenters have mentioned Duvall but you chose not to. Are you down on him for any particular reason? Or just think that he won’t make the club?

    His Steamer600 projection is very strange… .243/.291/.464 with 32 homers. Those homers prop up his wRC+ projection all way to 101. To me, he seems like the kind of boom-or-bust guy the Reds have valued over the years.

    • Doug Gray

      He’s not a rookie, so I just didn’t discuss him.

      I think he probably makes the club, but I’d be surprised if he won an outright job. I’m looking at him as a platoon guy, perhaps moving around between left and third every so often. The power is real, but I’ve talked to enough people in and out of the organization to know that there are some real questions about the rest of his game that I wouldn’t be penciling him into much just yet.

      • Patrick Jeter

        Makes sense! Thanks for the reply.

  6. james garrett

    For my money whoever has options left will be sent down regardless of how they perform.Its just a safe and easy way to do things for the Reds and they will choose that way to go.I do think that left field will be a platoon of Rodriguez/Schebler with Rodriquez getting the most playing time.I think he will have a good year and will put the left field problem to bed.He is young and talented so let him play.

  7. WVRedlegs

    About a month ago, I saw on Doug’s site where he re-ran part of a story and a quote from a Mark Sheldon article on YorRod. It was a nice and encouraging article on YorRod and what the Reds are kind of expecting from him this year. I don’t know if Doug can paste that in here or not for everybody to read, but the quote was very encouraging.

  8. redmountain

    Why is DuVall even being discussed. He is an AAAA hitter who strikes out too much. Go with kids, DuVall has already shown what he cannot do. By the way isn’t he an INF more than an OF?

    • Hotto4Votto

      Let me first state that I’m not Duvall’s biggest fan. For me he’s essentially a PH or 25th man due to below average defense wherever he plays. And I don’t know how many games you have to play at AAA to be considered a AAAA player, but he’s only had 216 at AAA. That’s slightly less than a year a half’s worth of time there.

      What Duvall does have is legit power. He hit 30 HRs in 125 games in the minors and 5 more in 27 games (72 PA) with the Reds. That can be useful off the bench, especially in the Reds home park. In a year when literally every OF’er is a question mark, Duvall could certainly provide some value, and seeing as he’s only 27 there’s no reason to write him off yet.

      • Patrick Jeter

        Well-stated, Hotto.

        Power can cover up a lot of other shortcomings. Steamer600 projects Duvall to be a 30+ HR guy right now, with the proper playing time… albeit with a sub-.300 OBP.


    Assuming peraza starts off at AAA, who is the other backup INF other than DeJesus? Has to be Duvall? What’s the alternative?

    • Hotto4Votto

      You know that’s a good question. Looking at the invites for camp, there’s only one non-roster/non-prospect invitee that’s listed as an INF on the Reds site, and that’s Brandon Allen who is listed as a 1B. Blandino, Daal, and Jagielo are also invited Blandino and Jagielo have only played a little at AA and Daal hasn’t yet reached AA. I don’t think the Reds would use either of those three as bench pieces this year, at least not to start the season. It would be a waste of development time for all of them.

      Peraza may end up being a super sub Zobrist type this year, spelling BP and Cozart each twice a week and maybe Hamilton once a week in the OF to keep Peraza playing regularly. Something tells me that may cause some issues with one or more of the veteran players though.

      So if not Peraza, and I don’t see the need to add Allen to the roster, it appears that Duvall would be the other “infielder” for the Reds. Unless someone comes out of nowhere or we pick up someone from a trade. Maybe the Reds will sign David Freese to a one year pillow contract, he’s an ex-Cardinal so it fits the M.O.

      • Doug Gray

        I think that Duvall/De Jesus are the back up infielders out of spring training. It wouldn’t be a complete shocker if Peraza wound up in that super-sub kind of role, but I do think the odds are against it. He’s 22, so the organization probably wants him playing every day.

    • Tom Diesman

      RH 1B/3B/C Jordan Pacheco and RH SS/2B Carlos Triunfel have big league camp invites. The real dark horse that would never happen cause he takes too many BBs would be LH 2B/3B/LF Alden Carrithers who I don’t believe got an invite to MLB camp but I could be wrong.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Thanks for the info. Wonder why they’re not listed on the Reds site? But now that you mention it I do remember those signings.

    • BigRedMike

      Maybe the Reds will bring back Grit

      • lwblogger2

        The Padres signed him to a minor-league deal with an invite to ST.

  10. ArtWayne

    BP makes contact, ideal for a pinch hitter; however he is a weird dude.

  11. UglyStrike

    There is absolutely no way you not have BP starting at second base. When he picks up his first nagging injury (about the second week of the season) of the season, then you start the Peraza super-sub experiment.

  12. Redgoggles

    I think you make BP your starter…..for 4 games every week. I think his numbers are much better when rested, and this can open up some playing time for the future. If he doesn’t like it……try accepting a trade. It seems to be in the TEAM’s best interest, short and long term.

  13. james garrett

    Price already said BP will be the starter and he also said that Peraza may play some in the infield and outfield but that won’t happen cause as Doug said he is only 22 and he will need to play everyday.I also agree with Doug that De Jesus is one of the bench guys and I could see Duvall at third some especially if Cosart struggles and Suarez moves to short.Duvall’s power has to play somewhere a couple of games a week but he does have options left so we will see.