A Minors Obsession

Minor League All Questions Answered

Before I jump into the whole topic for the day, I wanted to let everyone know that in the latest Redleg Nation podcast with Chad, that I made some comments about Amir Garrett and his being out of options. Well, it would seem that I was incorrect when I made that statement and that he will be one of the rare players who should qualify for a 4th option year. I wrote all about it here if you want more information on how it seemed to slip through the cracks for so long among all of the beat writers, myself, and well, everyone.

Now, onto the topic of the day. It’s been six weeks since we last had one of these, and it’s going to be the final one that takes place during the minor league season – which ends the first week of September for all of the non-Billings teams. If you have some questions about the minors, or minor leaguers, now is the time to get them answered.  Here are the rules:

  • 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).
  • Try to avoid overly long answer-type questions. I tend to give thorough and detailed answers as it is, so please don’t have me type out a novel.
  • Each user can ask TWO (usually three – but I’ve got a very busy day today) questions.
  • Ask your questions before 9PM and I will be sure to answer it. If you ask after 9PM on Wednesday, then I can’t guarantee that I will answer your question.

44 thoughts on “Minor League All Questions Answered

  1. Doug thank you for all you do.

    1. Has Blandino worked his way into a future with the reds next year?

    2. How is Cash Case doing in Arizona?

    3. Any updates with your future with Anna Kendrick?

    • 1. I think if nothing else, he’s worked his way into the conversation for possibly utility man. I believe he’ll be added to the 40-man roster this offseason, which means he’s just a phone call away at that point. He’ll probably still be behind Gennett/Herrera on the 2B depth chart to start the year, but, things can change quickly if you are performing and he’s performed well this year.

      2. He’s having some struggles right now, hitting just .172/.262/.241. With that said, he’s got 14 walks and 23 strikeouts. Without seeing him, I have to wonder if it’s more a matter of him hitting into some bad luck. Pitching clearly isn’t overwhelming him or his strikeout and walk ratios wouldn’t be good. I talked with someone recently ( a professional scout) who saw him in high school this year and was a fan of his bat. They thought he was definitely going to hit.

      3. Well, we still haven’t met – but I’ve been working on me lately. You know, working on me for her, for that random chance when we will meet.

  2. It’s looking like the Senzel/Trammell 2016 draft could be special. I’ve read reports that some considered Trammel to be a top 15-20 pick but the reds got him in the mid 30’s with more than slot money. Why did Senzel take less than slot money at #2 , giving the Reds more slot money for Trammel?

    Trammell was an elite running back in high school. Can he be an elite all around major league CF? If you had to trade Siri or Trammell in a package for an elite pitcher….which one would u keep?

    • 1. Until this year, no #1 or #2 pick had ever signed for over slot money, and only Kris Bryant had ever signed for close to slot money from the #1 or #2 pick. Senzel got the going rate, so-to-speak for the #2 spot based on the past. Trammell was the #12 prospect in the draft according to Baseball America last year. The Reds played that one great.

      2. I don’t know that I’d use the all-around term with Trammell simply because I think his arm strength is going to be something that keeps him from being that true 5-tool guy. But, the other 4 tools are very, very good. I think he can play center field and show strong range out there. But, I do think that teams will try and take extra bases on his arm out there, too. It’s not Johnny Damon level, but it’s below-average, for sure. I’d keep Trammell over Siri, but I’d hate to trade either of them. Trammell is just a safer bet because the pitch recognition skills are better, and while Siri clearly has more upside, it’s not by such an extravagant amount that it outweighs the risk between the two.

  3. As of today fill out next years Inf with 2 options and no Cozart – With Senzel at beginning of year, with a mid year call up?

    • To star the year, I’d go Votto, Gennett (unless Herrera just clear and away outperforms him in the spring), Suarez (3B) and Peraza. I’d keep Senzel down to start the year for control reasons, though I think you could call him up today and he’s perform well.

      Midseason is where it gets tough. I’d be taking a look at Suarez at either SS or 2B. Preferably shortstop if he can handle it from a range perspective. I’d keep Senzel at third. What that means for Peraza/Gennett/Herrera – well, you better play really well because there’s very, very likely only one spot open for the three of you by the time June gets here.

  4. 1. How much value do you place in Hunter Greene’s ability to hit?

    2. Is there any truth to the idea that Senzel doesn’t use his lower half as much as he should? Is that a correctable problem? Will it hamper him in the future at all?

    • 1. Very little. I believe that he’s a pitcher and that the Reds want him to be a pitcher in the long run. With that said, I do think it’s worth trying. As I said on the podcast last week, if he can be a good hitting pitcher, like one of the 2 best hitting pitchers in baseball, it’s capable of adding significant value. I’m glad the Reds are keeping him at the plate for now.

      2. There’s probably some truth to anything and everything when it comes to critiquing the swing of someone. Rarely do you ever see a perfect swing. With that said, one of the last things I’m worried about is Nick Senzel’s swing. I don’t believe there is anything to really worry about.

  5. I’ve always heard people claim the jump to AA is the hardest jump (for both pitchers and hitters).

    With that in mind, and with Senzel’s recent dominance in AA in mind, would you peg him as a 100 wRC+ major leaguer if he were called up today?

    • Yes. I think that he would at least be a league average hitter if he stepped into the Majors right now. Probably a little bit better today, and significantly better than that within a year.

  6. What happened to Nick Howard? I couldn’t find any information about him being released (and I don’t know why I find this interesting).

    • He wasn’t released, which is why you didn’t find that. He had shoulder surgery last summer and is working his way back. I haven’t asked anyone about him for about 6-8 weeks now, but the last information I heard was that it was a possibility that he could begin pitching in the AZL near the end of the season, but should have been ready for fall instructional league if he wasn’t ready for the end of the AZL season.

  7. I’ve wondered how many personal belongings minor leaguers bring with them each spring, and how much or little they take with them as they move up and down the organizational ladder and geographically. Do they settle in at all, or is it like seven or eight months in a hotel, with packing up your suitcase or two when you are sent to the next city?

    • For the most part, it’s suitcase living. For some of the guys they will stay with “host families” who will provide them with a place to stay, provide the furnishings and such in the home (they will live with a person/family – usually 2-3 guys). Some guys will join up and get their own place. Limited furniture, that’s cheap, because unless you happen to live close to the area you’re playing in, you can’t take it with you. When those situations arise and a guy is promoted mid-season, the hope is that whoever is coming in to take that roster spot, is also willing to take over the other guys living situation. Doesn’t always work out that way, though.

  8. Is there any scenario where Reds think about keeping Hunter Greene as a hitter?

    How is Alfredo Rodriguez doing in terms of hitting? I remember when he was signed he sounded horrible as a hitter and wondered if and how he has progressed since entering the organization.

    • 1. I’m of the belief that Hunter Greene will have to fail miserably as a pitcher, for several years before they’d truly consider ditching him as a pitcher and try him out as a position player.

      2. I do think he’s progressed from where he was in Cuba. And I think there’s a chance that he could hit *enough* to maybe be an every day shortstop because his glove is incredible. But, we’re also talking about a guy that I don’t think will ever OPS .700 in the Major Leagues. He’s not in the best place to hit right now – that league is incredibly pitcher friendly. But, he’s got some bat speed to work with, and his approach isn’t bad. I think there’s more power in there than he’s shown, too. But, yeah, I don’t think he’s ever going to be much of a hitter. The key is getting him to the point where he can hit enough that you can play him every day, bat him 8th and watch him make every pitcher you’ve got better.

  9. How are the relievers shaping up in the minors? Any significant help on the way?

    • I don’t think there’s anyone that’s a future closer on the way anytime soon, no. But, there are some arms that can be helpful, for sure. Jimmy Herget is in AAA right now along with Ariel Hernandez and Ismael Guillon. Evan Mitchell is an interesting guy that people don’t talk about enough. Maybe more of a 6th/7th inning type, but huge ground ball numbers and he’s performed. In Double-A you’ve got Zack Weiss as the main standout bullpen piece. But, there are probably five starters between those two levels that are going to wind up in the bullpen, too. And there could be some difference makers among them. Whether that’s Jackson Stephens, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Rookie Davis, Keury Mella, Jose Lopez, Jesus Reyes…. there’s options with plenty of bullpen upside among that group if some of them wind up pushed out of the rotation and into the bullpen.

  10. Do you think LaValley is a future MLB player? He seems to have significant power and did very good at high A but struggling a bit at AA.

    • Yes, I do. I’m just not sure it’s with the Reds. The two spots he could possibly play, first and third, aren’t exactly open for the taking.

      He’s having some initial struggles in AA, but I think he’ll turn it around next year when he heads back there.

  11. Yes or no. Does Mahle make the big league squad out of spring training next year?

    • It’s certainly possible, but if you had me place a bet right now, I’d put it on no. I wouldn’t feel confident with that bet, but it’s the one I’d make if forced to. With that said, I do think he’ll be up in the Majors before too long next season if he doesn’t make the club out of the spring.

  12. Do you think the Trammell can make the jump from A+ to AA next season? Does Chacin have a shot at pitching in the bigs next season?

    • If Trammell has a strong first half in 2018 with Daytona, then yes, I think they’ll send him up to Pensacola.

      All Chacin does is move up and get the job done. With that said, he’s a guy that throws 87-90 MPH, so I think he’s fighting a large uphill battle to get a chance.

  13. Thanks for your Q & A sessions.
    Individual prospects are like individual stocks on the stock market. Their values fluctuate up and down on a weekly basis, if not daily.
    1. From your pre-season top prospects, who’s stock has fallen the most this season and who’s tock has risen the most so far, not counting Senzel and Mahle?
    2. Did you learn anything new in Louisville yesterday about Rookie Davis? Three good starts in a row now for him.

    • 1. I don’t think that Senzel or Mahle are remotely close to the guys that have improved their stock the most. Both guys were very well regarded coming into the year, and while both have gotten better – we’re talking about an elite prospect and a very good one entering the year. Jose Siri is the guy who has seen his stock rise the most. Fallen is clearly Ian Kahaloa, who was suspended for drugs of abuse before the season began.

      2. I want to go back and watch the video that I took to see for a second time before commenting on some stuff with both he and Mahle. I will say that generally, he was impressive with his control. Nothing leapt out at me though as a “game changer” kind of pitch, but there were a few things that I want to double check on.

  14. Hi Doug. Love your website and the work you do

    1. Besides Hunter Greene, which 2017 draft pick are you most excited about in terms of talent and potential?

    2. If the Reds made a trade this offseason for a starter or new position player, who (in terms of prospects) would you deem expendable? I would say Gavin Lavalley is one of them.

    3. What would you suggest the Reds do when they think Senzel is big league ready? Dealing with suarez and other position changes

    • 1. Jeter Downs. A shortstop that can hit? Yeah, sign me up.

      2. LaValley is probably at the top of the list simply because it’s tough to see where he fits in because of Votto/Suarez/Senzel at the positions he has a chance to play. Trading some starting pitchers for an established guy could also be a road they could look at. There’s a lot of depth in terms of numbers there.

      Two question limit this week – but fortunately I answered your third one above for someone else.

  15. 1.Who has impressed you the most in Billings that wasn’t a high draft pick?

    2. Who was your least expected/biggest breakout player this year?

    Thanks Doug!

    • 1. I guess it would depend on what you consider not a high draft pick. Miles Gordon was a 4th rounder. Is that a high round pick? Alejo Lopez, statistically, has stood out, too. More walks than strikeouts, hitting for some power.

      2. Tough answer, honestly. If you asked me before I was in spring training, I would have said Jose Siri. But, I saw him in the spring and he was a different dude and wrote in March that I think he could have a big season. Let’s say Jose Lopez. I’ve always thought he had a good chance to be a #4 kind of guy, and I’m not sure that’s changed, but performance wise, he’s had one heck of a season (2.61 ERA in 131 innings between A+/AA).

  16. Hey guys – it’s been a whirlwind morning. I’m going to grab some lunch and be back around 1pm to start firing away my answers.

  17. Youve said in the past Gavin LaValley is a 1st basemen and thats it. With Votto entrenched there for Cin, is there a chance LaValley is left unguarded at the rule 5 and, thus gets picked he gets to live out his MLB dream for another franchise?

    Who would you predict gets added to the 40 man for 3 days when Barnhart goes on paternity leave? And is it likely to be a short stay with the 40 man status, due to Tucker, Mrs, and Turner?

    • 1. I’m not sure that I have said that because I’ve felt he’s still got a chance to play third, even if he’s not playing it right now. But, I think they’ll protect LaValley. Even if they don’t think he’ll have a future in the organization, he’ll probably have some trade value in the future, so you don’t let him go to someone else for free (or, well, a small amount of money).

      2. Personally, I’d call up Joe Hudson from Double-A. I don’t know if the Reds go that route. I’d give Turner every start while Tucker is gone, so I’d go with the best defensive catcher in the time being simply as a “just in case”. If I had to bet, I’d give a slight advantage to Chad Wallach getting the call, but I’d say it’s between Wallach, Nieto and Hudson. I do think it’ll be a situation where they played will be DFA’d at some point shortly after.

      • Maybe I am remembering about someone else. Or maybe you said he couldn’t play LF/RF. Anyway, thanks for the insight! Keep up the awesome job!

  18. 1) Which of these promising arms that have faded a little bit as the season has carried on do you think rebounds the best to start next season: Scott Moss, Vlad Gutierrez, or Tony Santillan?

    2) Shed Long’s struggles in AA: Hitting a wall, or just not adjusted to the level yet?

    3) With Trammell, Siri, and Friedl all starting next year in Daytona, do you think Michael Beltre repeats in Dayton in 2018?

    • 1. I mean, I like all three guys – but Santillan’s got the best stuff, though Gutierrez is more advanced, too. Moss is interesting because he’s never pitched anywhere near this many innings, and it’s very encouraging that it’s August 16th and he’s still out there going. It’s honestly real tough to pick between Santillan and Gutierrez, but if push came to shove, I guess I’ll take Gutierrez ever so slightly because he’s had fewer hiccups with the strikezone, even though he’s been touched up a little more.

      2. Small sample size bad luck. Walk rate is up. Strikeout rate is down. BABIP is very, very far down. That ballpark doesn’t exactly help Shed, either. It’s never been good for lefties because right field crushes power. But since they moved the left field wall back (it’s now 342 down the line), it’s also crushing power to left, too. Shed’s a guy that uses the whole field, so I think the park is suppressing the power, but he’s also just had a bunch of bad luck when it comes to BABIP. I’m not concerned at all there.

  19. 1. Who would you send to the Arizona Fall League?

    2. Who would you call up to the Reds in September?

    3. How do you rate Kivlehan’s performance off the bench compared to options currently in the minors/Ervin?

    • 1. Tough to say, honestly. Some teams use the league for different things. Heck, even the same team will use it for different things in different years. Sometimes you want it to get a guy who missed time extra playing time. Sometimes you want to use it as a preparation for the next year. Sometimes you try to use it to get that last look at some guys who need to be added to the 40-man to be protected from the Rule 5. Sometimes you use it to try and shine a guy up for possible trade bait in December. There are lots of reasons to send someone out there and they aren’t always obvious.

      With all of that said, here are the guys I’d send, without knowing if maybe someone just wouldn’t be better off having the rest during the offseason (maybe someone is playing with a nagging injury that would be better off just being given some rest – as an example).

      1. Zack Weiss. He missed about a year and a half before showing up in June. He’s pitched well, but he’s got to be protected from the Rule 5 this offseason (or not if they choose that route). He could use both the extra work and it gives the team one more chance to look at him and decide whether they would like to protect him or not.

      2. Nick Senzel. He’s had an incredible year. I believe the team will try and get him into the Majors as quickly as they can next year. The time in the AFL could help accelerate that.

      3. Shed Long. He’s on the DL right now, and I don’t believe it’s going to be something that will carry into October. Assuming it won’t, I’d send him out there. Let him have some success and put the struggles he had in Pensacola behind him.

      After that, I’d consider some different guys. Wyatt Strahan is coming off of TJ – has only pitched about half of the season. Do they want to get him more inning, or would they prefer rest? He’s also in need of protection from the Rule 5 if they believe someone would take him. Maybe a guy like Evan Mitchell goes back to the AFL again this year. He’s missed time this season, so you can make some of that back up. Maybe a guy like Zach Vincej depending on how the team feels about using him as a utility kind of guy. Gavin LaValley perhaps for similar reasons as I listed above with Shed Long (except the injury part). Maybe Tanner Rainey, who has been downright dominating at times, but also quite inconsistent.

      As for who I’d call up in September: Almost everyone on the 40-man. Even if the plan isn’t to play most of them, let some of those guys get acclimated to being in the big leagues. Watch Joey Votto every day go about his business. Watch him in the cage. Pitchers can always be useful to have. I don’t think I’d add anyone to the 40-man in order to call them up, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they did so for Tyler Mahle. I wouldn’t blame them – I get it. I’m just not sure that I would.

  20. 1. If you had to choose who would you peg for the 2018 pitching staff for the Reds? (if you would do a free agent pickup/trade acquisition just say something along those lines)

    2. What do you feel is the right move for the Reds going forward in regard to their outfield situation? Trade or some sort of platoon for all 4 players?

    Thanks again Doug!

    • 1. I’d absolutely, without question, be looking to add a veteran to the pitching staff. I wouldn’t sign any big name guys, but I’d probably be looking to spend something in that $8-12M range for a year for someone that should be sort of reliable at the back end of a rotation simply to eat some innings and provide some sort of stability. It’s tough to say, though, because we just don’t know the health situation for DeSclafani moving forward. Assuming he’s healthy, you’ve got to think that Bailey, DeSclafani, Finnegan and Castillo are locks for the rotation. Unfortunaely, I don’t think the team can count on them being healthy, because, well, whether it’s just insanely bad luck or not, they can’t seem to catch a break with healthy starting pitching. So I’d bring in a vet as insurance. If that guy gets beat out by your Stephenson/Garrett/Reed/Romano/Mahle, then that’s great for the Reds. Yeah, that’s an expensive bullpen arm you just signed for stability, but it’s still a risk I’d be willing to take.

      2. I think that at least for heading into 2018, I’d have a holding pattern. Billy Hamilton isn’t going to be hitting the bench for any of the other three guys because they can’t play center every day. So that leaves you with Duvall, Schebler and Winker. Winker’s got options, and truthfully, Schebler’s outplayed him to this point. I think Winker’s going to hit and I think he’s going to show more power than he’s had in Triple-A in his career – but right now, the overall package might not be better than what Schebler is bringing to the table. I’d look to see if one of them steps up and clearly takes the job. That’s not to say I wouldn’t trade any of the four in the right deal, but I don’t think I’d actively be looking to move any of them right now.

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