There’s a bit of news and notes around the baseball world today, and some of those are pretty specific to the Cincinnati Reds. While we usually toss some news and notes into the Strat-O-Matic game thread each day, we’re going to have some of them on their own today as they warrant a little more than a look-see and a continued scroll.
Hunter Greene is back
When the Cincinnati Reds selected Hunter Greene with the #2 overall pick in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft they were picking one of the more heralded prospects in recent memory. He had been on the cover of Sports Illustrated and had a fastball that routinely hit triple-digits as a 17-year-old. Greene was also a high level prospect as a shortstop, arguably a late 1st round talent in the infield – but it was his right arm that was just a different kind of special.
After a slow start in Dayton in 2018 buoyed by an asinine .663 BABIP through his first five starts, Hunter Greene went on a tear through the Midwest League over his next 13 starts. In the 2.5-month stretch from May 12th through July 26th he posted a 2.91 ERA in 58.2 innings where he walked just 13 batters and struck out 71 of the 233 hitters he faced (that’s a 30.5% strikeout rate for those keeping track at home). But that July 26th start wound up being the last of the season as Greene suffered a tear in his UCL in his right elbow. Rather than go for Tommy John surgery, he opted for rehab similar to what both Michael Lorenzen and Anthony DeSclafani went through to avoid going under the knife.
For a while it seemed to be working. Greene was throwing again in spring training the following year and was progressing nicely until the final session of the spring when he re-injured his elbow. This time he would opt for surgery and it went well on April 9th. In early March of 2020 he was back in Goodyear and had his first bullpen session, unveiling new mechanics. But then the baseball world shut down. Greene, like everyone else, was basically back at home and sort of on their own to get their baseball work in (with the guidance of the organization, of course). Well, he’s now just over 14 months from surgery, and last night he shared a recent bullpen session that saw him hit 102 MPH.
With taxi squad rosters that could expand the “organizational roster” up to 60 players, despite coming off of surgery and only having pitched in Low-A, would the Reds use up one of those potential roster spots for a guy like Hunter Greene, who could be a real weapon later on in the year – even if it were just going to be out of the bullpen?
Universal DH in 2020 and 2021 could be great for Reds & Nick Castellanos
We still don’t have an agreement for the 2020 season, but it feels like we got a bit closer to figuring it out yesterday. One of the things that was offered up was a designated hitter for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons for the National League. Love it, hate it, be indifferent about it – wherever you sit on that one, one thing is pretty clear: This move would be incredibly beneficial for the Cincinnati Reds. With an outfield that already felt a little crowded they still went out and added Nick Castellanos to go along with Aristides Aquino, Shogo Akiyama, Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, and Phillip Ervin. Nothing wrong with that, Casellanos absolutely rakes.
But finding playing time for everyone seemed to be an issue – and among that group, Castellanos is probably the worse defender of the bunch. He was still going to start most days, though, because he’s also the best hitter of the bunch. Having the designated hitter option on the table, though, could lead to more at-bats for everyone – including Castellanos, during the season.
While the Reds aren’t going to just put Nick Castellanos into the lineup daily as the designated hitter, it’s likely that they will rotate some of their outfielders around to get some playing time for everyone – this could wind up being a very good thing for the Reds to come out of a real crappy situation.
The Reds have signed 10 undrafted free agents
With the 2020 MLB Draft being restricted to just five rounds this year instead of 40, teams are picking up a few more undrafted free agents than they normally would. For the most part they are only college seniors because there’s a $20,000 signing bonus limit and most players are going to go back to school and take their chances that they can do better than that in the future. Cincinnati, though, has been signing more players than most, inking 10 guys to deals thus far. Most of the guys have been pitchers – some showing success in college, and some others not so much. There are things to like with each player, though – and hopefully the Reds developmental crew that’s been reworked and restructured in the last 12-18 months can help these guys get where they need to be.