In this ongoing series that will last most of spring training, we’re going to look at each player that will be in Major League camp with the Cincinnati Reds. Each post will have some information on the player. There will be some background information, profiling, projections, and more. To see all of the posts in the series, you can click here. Today we are going to look at first baseman and outfielder Brian O’Grady.
Brian O’Grady’s Background
Acquired: Selected by the Reds in the 8th round of the 2014 draft
Height/Weight: 6′ 2″ / 215 lbs
Years of MLB Experience: None
Brian O’Grady was never a highly ranked prospect; in fact, he’s never appeared on any top list. Nevertheless, he’s methodically worked his way through the farm system since he was drafted out of Rutgers. O’Grady worked his way up by at least one level every season and finally found himself on the brink of the big leagues last year after a mid-season promotion to Louisville.
Brian O’Grady’s 2018 Season
O’Grady’s year began in Double-A Pensacola, where he posted an .826 OPS in 63 games with the Blue Wahoos. He batted .258/.354/.472 with 22 extra-base hits, which was enough to earn him a promotion to Triple-A after a red-hot month of June. The 26-year-old didn’t stop hitting even when he reached a higher level. In fact, he only got better. In 42 games with the Bats, he hit a robust .306/.365/.563. There was a small caveat, though, as he was boosted by a .367 batting average on balls in play. O’Grady mashed a career-high 21 doubles and 14 home runs between both levels.
Brian O’Grady’s Playing History
Plate discipline has always been O’Grady’s strong suit at the plate. He has a 13.8% walk rate across five minor-league seasons, which has helped him stick around as an above-average offensive player despite an average hit tool (.244) and power (48 home runs in 1,788 plate appearances). In all his stops, he had at least a 105 wRC+, reaching as high as 143 in Low-A Dayton in 2015. He seemed to hit a wall once he reached Double-A, however, hitting only .185/.313/.347 and setting up 2018 as a possible make-or-break one for O’Grady at age 26.
He not only did enough to stay in the organization, but he also opened enough eyes to get an a non-roster invite to spring training in 2019 by unlocking previously unseen power. In the field, O’Grady brings a lot of versatility, playing first base and all three outfield positions. He also has five career appearances as a third baseman. He’s not as much of a base-stealer as he was early in his career, but he can move better than the average player. While he has swiped as many as 25 bases in a season, he hasn’t reached double digits since 2016 and was quite inefficient in his chances last year.
Projecting Brian O’Grady for 2019
The odds O’Grady makes the Reds out of spring training are minuscule. There aren’t any open spots on the 40-man roster, and it’d take an impressive showing and injuries for him to show up on the Opening Day roster. If he can continue his power outbreak, however, he could become an interesting call-up option later on in the season should injuries force the Reds’ hand. O’Grady’s versatility would make him a possible utility player, while his on-base skills could help him stay relatively productive as he adjusts to big-league pitching.
How could Brian O’Grady fit in Cincinnati in 2019?
Although O’Grady has some intriguing skills, there’s no clear path to playing time in Cincinnati this season. The Reds have a lot of outfielders already with Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Nick Senzel, and Phillip Ervin. They’d have to get pretty far down the depth chart to turn to O’Grady. Meanwhile, Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez are entrenched at first and third base, respectively. His best shot of reaching the big leagues this season would be as a backup to Votto. Curt Casali and Connor Joe are the probable backups at first base right now. But O’Grady will have to keep developing his power to get real consideration for a shot in The Show.