One of the things I’ve noticed in watching minor league players and talking to people around the organization is that the most interesting players are those who impress the old school and the new school guys. It lets you know that they have several — and varying — positive aspects of their game. I asked DeShields (who wouldn’t shy away from the old-school label) what he’s seen this year that impressed him.
He highlighted three players. The first was Phillip Ervin. Ervin has long had excellent plate discipline, but has dealt with some of the same power-sapping injuries as Jesse Winker. He’ll turn 25 in a few months and is getting long in the tooth for a prospect. However, the power has shown up at the beginning of this year so far and he’s clearly drawing positive reviews from everyone at this point.
Sebastian Elizalde was another player DeShields mentioned. Elizalde was a Mexican League pickup by the Reds several years ago and is a bit of an enigma, but he does seem to be able to hit in the purest sense of the word. His ceiling is probably a 4th outfielder-type.
Tony Renda. Everyone loves Tony Renda. Everyone. He’s jumped out to a .325/.391/.475 line at the start of the AAA season. Of course, he saw some time in Cincy last year and it would be surprising if he didn’t see any MLB time this year. He’s probably the first call up if a bench player is injured.
I also spoke briefly to Jesse Winker about his short stint with the Reds. This was his first game back in Louisville. Here’s some of what he had to say: “It was a great experience for me… I got my first hit out of the way. I got a lot of firsts out of the way… I know by my second at-bat a lot of the butterflies were gone, and now I know when I go back up there, it’s just strictly business.”
Winker does have a reputation for being emotionally steady, which is something that can bother some people, but is probably an asset when faced with your first opportunity to play in the majors.
I’ll try to do these kinds of updates periodically throughout the year. There are certainly people who know more about this stuff than me and we probably ought to listen to them at least sometimes.