The minor league season came to an end for the Cincinnati Reds organization over the weekend. The Billings Mustangs, the last team standing from the organization, lost in the Pioneer League Championship Series late Friday night. Overall the organization went 347-344 (for teams that play in the United States). It’s the first time they’ve been over .500 as an organization since 2011. They barely made it though, thanks to the Dayton Dragons dragging down the record with a 47-93 mark on the season – the worst in Dragons history (dating back to 2000).

There will still be plenty of baseball involving minor leaguers moving forward this “offseason”. Instructional league is about to get underway and the Reds will have two sets of Instructs as they always do. If you want to see the rosters for the teams, you can check them out here. There will also be guys playing in the Arizona Fall League, the Dominican Winter League, the Venezuelan Winter League, the Mexican Winter League, the Puerto Rican Winter League and likely in the Australian Winter League.

With all of that said, the once-a-month All Questions Answered about the minor leagues will probably stop until the season begins next year as there simply isn’t as much to talk about and during the offseason my Tuesday articles will focus on other minor league related things. So this may be your last chance to get in your burning questions for quite a while…. take full advantage of it.

As with every AQA, there are a few simple rules to follow:

  1. Try to avoid questions that will require me to look up answers (such as: Who was the last guy to steal 25 bags and hit 25 home runs in the system).
  2. Try to avoid overly long answer-type questions. I tend to give thorough and detailed answers as it is, so please don’t have my type out a novel.
  3. Each user can ask up to three questions.
  4. Ask your questions before 8PM and I will be sure to answer it. If you ask after 8PM on Tuesday, then I can’t guarantee that I will answer your question.

I probably won’t begin answering questions until around 11am, but feel free to filling up the comments with them before that.

Join the conversation! 48 Comments

  1. What is the plan for Y-Rod?

    If Herrera is our 2B next year what are his projections

    Senzel what is his arrival time line.

    • 1. Tough to say with Yorman to be honest. I think he really had a tough 2016 that cost him what could have been a great opportunity to play. With Schebler, Duvall and Winker, he may not get that chance with the Reds again – at least like he could have in 2016. If he survives the 40-man cuts over the winter (I think it would be a mistake to remove him from it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did try to sneak him through waivers), he’s going to need a big spring next year.

      2. I don’t think he is. They aren’t going to be able to move Phillips. Herrera will be back in Triple-A, probably, because there’s no where else to play him.

      3. I think he could be ready at some point in 2017, but I don’t expect him until 2018. The Reds won’t call him up just because he’s ready – they will call him up when they are ready to compete. While I think they can be .500 or so in 2017, that’s only going to happen if Suarez is playing well, and then there won’t be a spot for Senzel immediately – but could create a trade option for Suarez in the offseason. If Suarez isn’t playing well, then the team probably isn’t winning and there’s no need to waste service time calling up Senzel.

  2. All of a sudden the Reds have an overstock of Outfielders. What is the solution and will be our starting 3 in 2017?
    Wahoos just renewed! Do you think that their is any logic in minor league stadiums designing their fields to more resemble their Major League partners?
    At what age is it considered the development peak of a minor leaguer?

    • 1. I’d hardly call it an overstock. Every last one of them has question marks as to whether they’re a starter, except maybe Billy Hamilton. I think they go into April with Duvall, Hamilton and Schebler as the starters and let that play out for a time to see what each guy does. Winker and Rodriguez could play into how quickly something else happens on the corners.

      2. No. Affiliations change way too much to try and do something like that.

      3. There really isn’t one – every player is different. We know that hitters tend to age on a bell curve, peaking around 28 or 29. Pitchers on the other hand don’t follow any real path like that.

  3. I know it’s good to have options, but who do you think shakes out in the infield in a few years between Suarez, Herrera, Rodriguez, Perraza, Senzel, Long, Blandino, etc. did I forget anyone?

    • Kevin you may want to include Daal and Trahan

    • Senzel is going to play third base. Beyond him, there are questions with the rest of them. Suarez is going to have to move elsewhere. Can he play second? Will second even be available? Herrera may have to fight with Suarez for second. Can Peraza field enough to be the every day shortstop? Will Rodriguez ever hit enough to be more than a glove first utility player? Can Blandino get over the Double-A hump? Shed Long, while quite good thus far, has less than 50 games played in Advanced-A. That’s a long way to go.

  4. Which guys would you start in the minors due to service time or playing time considerations beginning next year?

    Would you add Vincej or Daal or neither to 40-man this offseason?

    Should the Reds upgrade Cabrera’s spot as backup catcher? Is Wallach the best internal option?

    • Winker. That’s it. No one else is really in contention for a job who, at least for me, is someone I am worried about from a service time side of things. I’m never really worried about a service time thing for pitchers. The odds that any of them get through 6 years injury free are slim – If they are ready, let them pitch and get the most you can out of that arm (I’m not saying run it into the ground – but use it like you normally would).

      2. No, I wouldn’t.

      3. They should explore it, but not with Wallach. He’s simply nowhere near ready as a big league catcher right now. Cabrera is a fine 3rd option.

  5. Great year Doug.
    1. Off of your top-30 prospect list, who will lose their prospect status after the season for your new list? Dilson Herrera came to the Reds having already lost his, so who joins him on that list?
    2. It doesn’t have to be a Reds affiliate, but what team has your favorite minor league baseball cap?
    3. Do you foresee any possible large trades the Reds make this winter by packaging a group of prospects/players for an established ML bat?

    • 1. Cody Reed, Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler.

      2. The Fresno Grizzlies…. when they occasionally become the Fresno Tacos.

      3. No, I don’t. I think that, generally speaking, the Reds are looking at their future team with the guys in the minor leagues already. Only a corner outfield spot is possibly open. Not sure they’re going to cash in the chips just yet for that spot.

      • Does Yorman still have eligibility? Since he’s earning service time on DL, I would have thought he’d like see his eligibility as well.

        • It’s something I’m going to have to look into more to be honest. The ROY rules say you need 45 days on the active, non-September roster to no longer be eligible due to service time. I’m not sure if the DL counts for that or not. So, right now, I’m not sure.

  6. Project the Louisville Bats rotation in 2017. Romano, travieso, Garrett, rookie Davis?? Do you think Robert Stephenson starts in Louisville?

    • I think Stephenson probably starts in the rotation in the big leagues, but maybe it’s Cody Reed. One of them will, the other in Louisville. Wouldn’t surprise me if Travieso went back to Pensacola – but wouldn’t surprise me if he moved up either. Same for Jackson Stephens, who probably deserves to move up.

  7. How do you get Senzel and Suarez both in the lineup in 2018-19?
    Is there anyone you would trade because his stock is high?
    Mez contract has 2 years, Phillips and Cozart 1 year, is there anyone you would sign to a team friendly deal?

    • 1. You probably don’t. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Suarez traded after 2017 to make room for Senzel.

      2. Not really. The guys with high stock right now are building blocks.

      3. From those three? No chance. I wouldn’t even consider it.

  8. What’s up with John Lamb? Do you think they’ll leave him in Lville as a starter? I think he has talent but I wonder if the dedication is there?

    • He’s got a flexor mass injury – but the Reds aren’t saying how serious it is. With the prospects coming up from Double-A, I’d bet that if he does start in the rotation next year it won’t be for long.

      Why would you wonder about his dedication?

      • He just seemed as skinny or even thinner then he did last year! It was easy to see the muscle that Iggy and Lorenzen put on from last year and it would greatly benefit Lamb too. I know he’s had back issues so maybe he can’t lift much weight but he is desperate need of more strength!

  9. 1) What Team do you think would be interested in Cosart if the reds are content with trading him and what would a package look like?

    2) I know you not a fortune teller but who is the starting catcher on the next winning Reds team

    • 1. Not really sure what the market is for him, but I wouldn’t expect too much for him. After a strong first half, he’s turned back into the guy he once was. Toss in that he’s not healthy to end the season…. the Reds are more likely to move him to get Peraza in the lineup than to get something in return for Cozart.

      2. Devin Mesoraco. Next year. Not a playoff team, but let’s call it 83 wins.

  10. 1. What’s the main thing that Cody Reed needs to work on?

    2. What’s Vladimir Gutierrez’s ceiling?

    3. Where does this year rank in terms of adding talent to the system to you?

    • 1. Better location – though I’ve heard more than a few people say that he needs to work on his slide being more up and down than across the zone. With his low 3/4 arm angle, that’s going to be tough to do as the ball naturally is going to come across the zone. For me though, it’s simply been an issue where he’s throwing too much up in the zone and guys just aren’t missing.

      2. That’s really tough to say – I’ve never seen him in person. He’s never been used as a starter (granted he last pitched as an 18-year-old, so that doesn’t mean much at all). With that said, if we want to talk ceiling, we’ve got a guy with two plus pitches, a solid change up and a starter – that sounds like a #1/2 profile as long as the control is there.

      3. Adding Senzel, Trammell and Gutierrez was very big for the system. Tough to beat that.

      • Rodriguez?

        Kidding as that seems to be money poorly spent.

        • He hasn’t even played yet. Isn’t it premature to dismiss him? A lot of us were saying the same about Peraza.

  11. Is Adam Duvall a starting MLB outfielder at the end of 2017?

    Predict the opening day bullpen

    Does Amir Garret make it to the Reds rotation in 2017?

    • 1. If I had to bet, I’d say no. But I also wouldn’t bet much money on it either.

      2. Lorenzen, Wood, Cingrani and then a whole bunch of competition. Iglesias is there if he can’t start, but that’s still up in the air. Lots of options, next to zero certainty.

      3. I think he will debut at some point, but I’d give him next to no chance to make the team out of spring training.

  12. Hey Doug
    How far does Aquino advance in 2017? Do they let him go as far as his ability seems to indicate or will they hold him back for timing purposes even if he is cooking?

    • I think they let his play dictate things. While there’s no immediate rush, if he crushes the ball in Pensacola in the first half, he probably moves up in the second half.

  13. If you were the GM:

    Which players, if any, have a reputation that exceeds their production that you would try to cash in on before the rest of the league catches on?

    Let’s pretend Mike Trout is available, what kind of package would you offer?

    • 1. I don’t think anyone really fits that description, honestly. I do think some guys have more to work on than some may believe – but I think other teams know that, but maybe it’s just not reflected in fan expectations/rankings.

      2. Any five players in the organization you want. Big leaguers. Minor Leaguers. Don’t care. Pick.

      • At 34 million a year it’s hard to say how giving up multiple players for Trout makes sense. No chance anyway.

        • Because he’s the kind of player that you can’t get anywhere else. He’s literally worth two All-Stars every year. He just turned 25. He’s worth way more money than he’s making. I’d do it without thinking about it. Not even for a second.

  14. Doug,
    I struggle with getting excited about young players and staying realistic with how hard it is to become a major league player. Is this something you ever struggle with?

    • I actually get accused of being too optimistic with young players, so I don’t think that’s a problem that I have. Really though, I think that I stay as realistic as can be. While I am a Reds fan at heart, I try to not let that get in the way of my projections for the players.

  15. 1. Where would you say the current weakness is for the Reds system, for the big league club to compete in 2018? Not just break .500, but actually push for the playoffs.

    2. How do you think the Reds should navigate the apparent depth, and the limited space on the 40 man roster, with the upcoming rule 5 draft? Do they risk to start losing some of this depth? Is this just the nature of being in a rebuild mode?

    3. I know how you love Aquino, and rightfully so! So give us your best guess as to who is the “Aquino” of the Reds system next year…

    • 1. A true power hitter, especially if we are looking at 2018.

      2. Honestly, this is one of the things that I really haven’t tackled just yet. I’ve got the list of guys to look at, and I do think they will actually lose a guy or two (at least until the end of the spring as other teams will take a look-see) in the Rule 5 that they don’t protect. I think there are some absolute protections coming, but at the same time I think we may be surprised not only by a guy or two that are protected, but by a guy or two that aren’t.

      I’d expect some guys that are big leaguers today could be let go to clear 40-man space. Short term big league depth may be sacrificed for long term gain.

      3. If you mean a guy who breaks out, it wouldn’t surprise me if a healthy Tyler Stephenson does some damage next year.

  16. I think I have one left. My background encourages figuring out where votes come from. If the Reds are going to get from 65-70 wins this year to 83 or so next year, where do the additional wins come from? Inside the division they are roughly on parity with everyone but the Cubbies. Do they take a bigger bite out of divisional foes or is it an across the board thing?

    • I think they take a few extra games from everyone. The bullpen was historically bad in the first half of 2016 because of the starting pitching injuries eating up any and all bullpen depth that was in the minors for the rotation. Toss in getting back, hopefully, Homer Bailey and contributions from younger guys getting a tad better moving forward and they just pick up a win here and there.

  17. 1.) Can you profile they new Cuban pitcher – Gutierrez – and give us your two sense on him?
    2.) When will the Reds be a playoff team again in your eyes?
    3.) What’s your starting 5 rotation for the 2017 Louisville Bats if you had to pick right now?

    Thanks for your response.

    • 1. Outstanding FB/BB combo, needs to improve the change up, but he’s still just 20-years-old, so that’s not a big deal. Had better numbers in Cuba than Iglesias or Chapman did, even at a younger age. Hasn’t been used as a starter, so he’s probably still 3-4 years away from being a 175 inning caliber pitcher if they choose to stick with him in the rotation – but they sound like they are going to give that one a real shot. Great signing, can’t believe he cost them as little as he actually did.

      2. I think 2018 is a realistic target.

      3. I answered that one above, so you can scroll up for the answer and ask another question if you’d like.

  18. 1) With the jump from A+ to AA being the most difficult, how well do you see Aquino performing next year in Pensacola? Do you believe his plate discipline continues to improve or is there a better chance he falls off like many players who have had success at lower levels have done before him?

    2) Do you believe Lorenzen could be a successful ML starter?

    3) Is Senzel the Reds Bryant or Arenado? Or maybe a step below those guys.

    Appreciate it, Doug!

    • 1. That’s the big question, honestly. The step forward in plate discipline was real, but he’s still got to improve moving forward. Hopefully that will happen, and if it does, he’s going to hit. I liked what I saw this year when I was in Daytona, so I’m optimistic. But, I am not ready to say he’s going to clear that hurdle yet either.

      2. I think if given the time he could have been, but they rushed him and took that away. It sounds like he’s in the bullpen moving forward.

      3. He’s not going to be a 35+ HR guy like they are (though, without Colorado, who knows how many Arenado would actually hit), but I think he’s a better hitter for average than both guys are. I’d look at him as being a 300/400/500 guy with a strong glove, plenty of steals and about as many walks as strikeouts.

  19. Well Chad Rogers be invited back to Louisville?

    • I doubt the city of Louisville has him banned, so I’m sure he’d be allowed back. The question is, do the Reds have a need for him and I’m just not sure that they do. And honestly, if I were him, as a free agent, I’d try to latch on elsewhere first. He has been around the system for a while and he didn’t get his chance. I’d test my skills elsewhere and see if someone else would give me that shot.

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A Minors Obsession