Last week bad news hit the Cincinnati Reds organization when Nick Senzel tore a tendon in his finger that would require surgery and end his 2018 season. It was a tough blow for both Senzel, and for the Reds organization.
You never want to see injuries happen. But sometimes when they do, it opens up an opportunity for someone who may not have otherwise gotten a chance. In this scenario that player could very well be Dilson Herrera. After having shoulder surgery last summer, and struggling initially in spring training, the Reds designated Herrera for assignment in March. He cleared waivers and the Reds sent him to the minors.
He would begin his season in Daytona in the Florida State League. The first month of the season would see Herrera stick around with the Tortugas, hitting .298/.359/.429 in 21 games played. The league average OPS in the Florida State League is just .694 this season.
Dilson Herrera was sent to Triple-A Louisville early in May. He got out to a slow start, hitting .256/.299/.390 with 4 walks and 21 strikeouts in 23 games during the month with the Bats. He’s got a long history of hitting in Triple-A, but May was one of his worst months at the level.
June, however, has been one of his better months in Triple-A. Over 20 games played with the Bats this month he’s hit .356. That’s also come with 14 walks, giving him an on-base percentage of .461. He’s also had seven doubles and a home run during the month, good for a slugging percentage of .493 – giving him an OPS of .954. Overall he’s posted an .819 OPS in 43 total games in the International League.
It’s been several years since Dilson Herrera was eligible for prospect lists. He spent too much time in the Major Leagues with the Mets to still qualify for them over the last few years, but when he was last eligible, he was considered a Top 100 caliber prospect. He’s still just 24-years-old. The biggest issue, at least in terms of fitting in with the Cincinnati Reds, is that he plays second base and the belief is that if he’s ever going to be a starting caliber player, it’s going to have to come at second base.
In Louisville, with Nick Senzel on the same team, Dilson Herrera was spending time at third base. Every so often he would play at second when Senzel would slide to third – but that was maybe once a week. With Senzel now out for the season, that is going to lead to Herrera playing second base nearly every day. And it may also mean that without Senzel taking a spot on the big league roster in the latter half of this season, that spot could possibly go to Herrera if he continues to perform.
If the Reds do decide to bring up Dilson Herrera they will have to believe he’s going to be up for good. He’s not currently on the 40-man roster, and once he’s added he will be out of options and be unable to be sent back to the minors without exposing him to waivers. He’s also a free agent after the season is over if the team does not add him to the 40-man roster.
There are a lot of things going on in regards to Dilson Herrera. The first is the 40-man roster spot that he doesn’t have. The second is the options issue. The third is that there’s not exactly an opening in the big leagues at the position right now, either as a starter or on the bench. That could be the biggest thing. Scooter Gennett is killing the baseball right now. He’s been killing the baseball for the last 15 months. But he’s also a free agent after the 2019 season, and that puts the Reds in a situation where there’s plenty of debate: do you trade him, keep him for now, or try to extend him? Without getting into the merits of each, a trade could open up a spot – at least in the short term, could open a spot for Herrera if he continues to perform.
How things play out will be interesting to watch. The first thing to keep an eye on, of course, will be the performance of Dilson Herrera. But after that, what the team does with Scooter Gennett up to July 31st. If that date comes and goes without a move, then the next time to pay close attention will be in September when the team begins their end-of-the-year call ups. There’s also a small chance that the team could go without adding him to the roster for September, but would add him right after the season ends in order to keep him in the organization rather than let him enter free agency.