By a show of hands, how many of you have really heard of Donald Lutz prior to seeing this article?
If everyone is totally honest, I bet there are very few people with their hands raised right now.
Lutz is a 23-year-old prospect in the Reds' minor league organization who's showing signs of a bright future. Lutz was born in Watertown, NY, but signed as an international free agent from Germany in 2007. Since then, Lutz has played in the minors.
In 2007, as a 17-year-old, Lutz played in the German Baseball Bundesliga, the elite level of competition in Germany where the national team roster is set. After a poor showing in the first division, Lutz went off in the second with a .506 average, 39 RBI and six home runs in just 24 games.
Lutz was also a member of the 2008 European Under-21 championship. In that same year, he had a respectable showing for the Reds' rookie team in the Gulf League.
His first three seasons were spent in rookie ball and playing abroad for the German National Team.
2011 was Lutz's first full season in the minors, and it was impressive to say the least. In 123 games at A Dayton, Lutz recorded 506 plate appearances and 465 at-bats and went .301/.358/.492 with 140 hits (46 of which were for extra bases), 20 HR, 75 RBI and 85 runs scored.
That's a great season for a 22-year-old and should land him in AA either at the start of this season or by at least the midway point.
The only problem with Lutz—if you can even call it a problem—is that he's a first baseman. This has already proven to be a difficult position in the Reds system after shipping Yonder Alonso off this winter.
At 6'4" and 230 pounds, my guess is that Lutz won't be playing many more games in the outfield (he's played about 17 total with the Reds).
With Neftali Soto and Joey Votto ahead of him, it's tough to say what will happen with Lutz in the future. For now though, we can be content with watching him develop into a very solid player.