The Reds played the world champion Chicago Cubs last night at Goodyear Ballpark. Because the major league game was at night, I took in the AA-minor league game at 1 p.m. The weather was much cooler and overcast.

Notes from the AA-game against the Dodgers

It would be hard to overstate how dominating Luis Castillo (Straily trade) was today. I stood behind the Reds and Dodgers radar guns and they had Castillo at 97 mph all day, occasionally higher. He had great control working his way through the AA Dodgers. What made him especially dominant was the control he had over his off-speed pitch (80-83 mph). No walks, lots of strikeouts, many weak ground balls and pop-ups. He has a long way to go, but Castillo may end up being the best acquisition of the rebuild. For Dan Straily.

Luis Castillo warming up

Nick Senzel, batting third, hit a towering fly ball to the deepest part of right-center, but it was hauled in on a great catch. Over the four innings I watched, he had three routine plays at 3B. He completed two of them. On one, he threw the ball well over the 1B head.

Nick Senzel about to make contact

Alfredo Rodriguez is the Cuban shortstop the Reds signed for $7 million last summer. Slick fielding is his calling card. He made two plays today while I was watching. Both routine, both smooth. Rodriguez wears #2. Probably because he idolizes Zack Cozart.

Alfredo Rodriguez at bat

Notes from Reds vs. Cubs

My comments are abbreviated because in the middle of the fifth inning it rained for five minutes and the teams and umpires agreed to call the game off. Let’s say the grounds crew was inexperienced at the task of getting tarps on the field in a hurry.

Ground crew struggling to get field covered

The pitch speed was still not shown.

The ballpark was packed with the largest crowd in its history. Every seat was sold, thousands were standing. The attendance was 11,500. I was surrounded by Cubs fans. Clues: Everyone was speaking in a Chicago accent, they were talking about “the Quaaaad Cities” and they cheered as though every fly ball the Cubs hit was going to be a home run. Yup, Cubs fans.

 Scott Feldman held off the Cubs bats for four innings but was starting to get hit hard in the fifth when Kyle Schwarber blasted a ball most of the way to Phoenix. Says here Schwarber hits 40 home runs and walks 100 times leading off for the Cubs. 

Devin Mesoraco threw a runner out at 2B and got a hit. He caught all 5 innings. Mesoraco is going to make the Opening Day roster, it’s just a question whether or not his hitting stroke is back.

Devin the Destroyer of Worlds and Labra

Tonight provided a rare sighting of long-haired Homer Bailey. He spent the better part of the first two innings in an animated and up-close conversation with Bronson Arroyo. Whatever story Bronson was telling, it had Homer laughing.

Bronson and Homer swapping stories

 Hernan Irabarren, who was playing 2B, committed a throwing error on a routine play to 1B. Steve Sax bad.

Scott Schebler hustled on a deep single to right center turning it into a double with two outs.

The Reds hammered Ryan Williams, a Cubs minor league pitcher, for five runs in the fourth inning. Adam Duvall launched a two-run opposite field home run. Dude is strong. Joey Votto, who had singled, scored ahead of Duvall. Patrick Kivlehan had another single and scored with Eugenio Suarez on an Irabarren double.

Adam Duvall and Joey Votto leaving field after Duvall’s homer

Billy Hamilton, reported to have Achilles tendon soreness, sat out for the fourth straight game. He was in the dugout.

I’ve seen six Reds games and yet to witness Michael Lorenzen, Drew Storen, Blake Wood or Raisel Iglesias pitch.

Tomorrow the Reds travel to Camelback Ranch to play an afternoon game against the Chicago White Sox.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. No roster moves yet? I guess the remaining four bench spots will go to Kivlehan (IF/OF corners), Jennings (CF), Alcantara (SS) and one of Renda/Irribarren (2B).

    • The Reds made a couple of cuts yesterday. No big surprises, Ervin and Walker were optioned which brings the position players remaining that are on the 40-man down to 12. Two of those, Winker and Turner, are still question marks to make OD roster. Which would mean 3 NRI’s make the roster unless the Reds opt for a 13 man bullpen.

      3 bench spots (after Barnhart and Alcantara) to be filled: Winker, Turner, Jennings, Raburn, Kivlehan, Renda, Irribarren Elizalde, and Brantley remain in camp.

      2 bullpen spots (assuming Iglesias is healthy) to fill: Astin, Brice, Adelman, Peralta, Ogando, Luetge, Coleman remain in camp.

      3 rotation spots to fill: Reed, Stephenson, Garrett, Romano, Davis, and Arroyo remain in camp.

      May have missed someone but I think that’s how the roster competition breaks down.

    • After the roster moves yesterday, I am even more confused about the waiver claim for Walker, a 26-year-old 1B with a .754 OPS in 313 games at AAA. I certainly hope the intent is to use Walker as minor league roster fill by trying to retain him after DFA waivers come crunch time rather than risking the loss of someone else from the 40-man roster.

  2. Thanks again Steve. Really valuable insights this week.
    It would seem the story of the 2017 reds spring training centers on two things: young pitching and injuries.

    It is clear that Rookie Davis and Amir Garrett and Cody Reed and Sal Romano and now Luis Castillo all came prepared to pitch…With good stuff and strong arms. As importantly….They also came with a mindset of aggression and something to prove. That’s encouraging.

    The Bailey/disco injuries are frustrating…It would appear we know more about Mesoraco now than 6 weeks ago and generally it’s good. We also are told Iggy and Herrera do not have structural problems with their throwing arms….Good again. Arroyo pitches today I believe…I still can’t see him or Adelman as starters for the Reds or getting hitters out. I could see Adelman as innings insurance as the last guy in the pen…But for the most part….The young pitchers have not only answered the challenge…But indeed thrived in a competitive setting.

    Any word on Herrera progress ….hitting or playing field minor league games?

  3. Great info Steve. Thank you.

  4. Steve, you and Doug are living my dream right now. My plan is to save enough money and attend spring training in Goodyear hopefully within the next year or two.

    Between your glowing reports and Doug’s video of Castillo striking out the side, it’s hard not to be excited about him. He’s got a special arm capable of developing into a frontline starting pitcher, IMO. In other positive news from Reds minor league camp, 2016 international signee Vladimir Gutierrez (Cuba, $4.75M) pitched yesterday against a Dodgers minor league team and allowed only one run on one hit in 5 IP and struck out 7 compared to only one walk.

  5. Great insights again Steve. That is just more fantastic news on Castillo, he is having a fine spring. Funny quip about Schwarber leading off. I said it yesterday, and I’ll say it again today. Our Schebler ought to get some AB’s this spring leading off and some during the regular season. Especially now since BHam is already ailing. Schebler>Peraza>Votto with BHam batting 9th would make for an intriguing start of the lineup.

  6. Great job again Steve. This group of young pitchers, both starting and relieving, might be the best group ever. Let’s hope they stay healthy. If both Bailey and disco come back close to 100%, we are going to have surplus pitchesr as trading chips in a year or two.

  7. Good stuff, Steve. You’re making us all jealous.

  8. Thanks, Steve. Great stuff. Question on Castillo’s fastball: how was he locating it, and did it have any movement? My recollection is that last year he got fewer swings and misses with his high velocity than most similar pitchers, hurting his peripherals and projections.

    • From my vantage point and untrained eye, it was moving a lot. Many swings and misses yesterday. Had hitters off balance with his changeup.

      • That is awesome. We know how much Price loves for his starters to be able to have great command of their change-up.

        • The gap between Castillo’s fastball and changeup was 15 mph. That’ll do.

          • Indeed. And the fact that he’s controlling that changeup will make all of the difference.

          • Thank you so much Steve for these reports.Does Castillo start the year in AA?

  9. Love these reports Steve. Honestly, I like the beat reporter stuff too but somehow they lack detail. Your reports are full of detail.

    Home ill today unfortunately. I was hoping to watch a lot of ST baseball but unfortunately MLBNetwork replayed the US win of the WBC not once, but twice today. I need to wait another half-hour to watch a spring training game.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


2017 Spring Training


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