With the winter taking a heavy toll on the farm system, I thought it would be prudent to take a look at what the Reds still have at the minor league level.
Of course, there are several who are putting up decent numbers and getting very little recognition.
The first player that I want to spotlight is outfielder Bill Rhinehart. If the name rings a bell, but doesn't seem to complete the circuit of instant recall, he came to the Reds in the deal that sent Jonny Gomes to the Washington Nationals for himself and pitcher Christopher Manno.
Rhinehart is no spring chicken as far as minor league prospects are concerned. He is a 27-year-old power hitting outfielder who was drafted in the 11th round by the Nationals in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft.
He started with the Vermont Lake Monsters, the Nationals' Single-A affiliate. In 60 games as a 22-year-old, he posted numbers of .299/.377/.453/.830 with five HR and 43 RBI.
In 2008, he continued to toil in Single-A at Hagerstown and Potomac before playing the last half of the season for Double-A Harrisburg. In 564 plate appearances that season, he hit 18 HR with 89 RBI.
His only stint in Triple-A came with Syracuse in the 2010 season. He appeared in five games and besides one home run, had rather insignificant numbers.
In 2011, Rhinehart began the year at Harrisburg, but when Gomes was traded, he was sent to the Reds' Double-A affiliate (at the time) Carolina Mudcats. Between the two teams he put up impressive numbers. In 460 PA, he batted .284/.377/.565/.942 with a career high 28 HR and 88 RBI.
The left-hander is a converted first baseman and has actually played twice as much at that position as he has in the outfield. So he could certainly fill in at first in a pinch.
Since the Reds terminated their affiliate with Carolina, they are entering their relationship with the newly born Pensacola Blue Wahoos (you have to love those minor league names).
It is hard to gauge a player's minor league development. Double-A seems to be where the players are who still have hopes of making it to MLB, while the Triple-A system is more of a shuttle bus from MLB to the minors.
At any rate, if Rhinehart is going to become a major league player then now would be the time to give him a good hard look at Triple-A ball.
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