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Candidates for 25-Man Roster: Ryan Ludwick, Shin-Soo Choo, Jay Bruce, Chris Heisey, Xavier Paul, Denis Phipps,
The Reds' outfield features stiff competition this season.
Ryan Ludwick and Jay Bruce, both starters from last season, will return to their starting roles again this season. Newcomer Shin-Soo Choo is slated to start in center field.
For Choo, there are uncertainties surrounding his ability to play center field, but one way or the other, he will be starting in Cincinnati.
The Reds will likely carry five outfielders and with the starting slots already filled, that leaves Chris Heisey, Xavier Paul and Denis Phipps to fight it out for the last two spots.
After clobbering 18 home runs in 279 at-bats during the 2011 season, Chris Heisey seemed like he would become the everyday starter in left field.
That plan was put on hold in 2012.
Heisey couldn't claim the starting job for himself in the season's early goings and was relegated to a fourth outfielder/pinch hitting role for the rest of the year.
Heisey still made 120 appearances in 2012 and finished the year with 347 at bats. However, the power that fans and management had come to expect from Heisey was nearly non existent.
By year's end, Heisey managed only seven home runs.
The real problem for Heisey though, is his inability to hit left-handed pitching with any sort of consistency.
Over the course of his career, Heisey has slashed .214/.272/.376 against lefties (per ESPN.com).
Heisey is valuable coming off the bench, but a slash line like that is indicative of a platoon player, not a starter.
Xavier Paul and Denis Phipps should be fighting for the final outfielder's spot.
Paul, a 24-year-old left-handed hitter, holds the advantage in this matchup.
The Reds lacked viable left handed-bench bat for most of the 2012 season but Paul stepped up and filled took control of that role by the end of the year.
In 55 games Paul logged 86 at bats with a .314/.379/.465 slash line with two HR, seven RBI and eight runs scored.
Phipps is a 27-year-old prospect with just 10 major league at bats. Although he has shown some pop in the minors (17 HR last season), he has yet to crack the big league roster in any significant way.
The fact that Phipps is a right-handed batter doesn't help his case and it looks as though he will miss the cut again in 2012.
Final Prediction for 25-Man Roster: Ryan Ludwick (MLB LF), Shin-Soo Choo (MLB CF), Jay Bruce (MLB RF), Chris Heisey (MLB Bench), Xavier Paul (MLB Bench)