Reds' Spring Training Report: Update of Cuts, Surprises, Busts and Injuries
The Cincinnati Reds haven't exactly had the best of luck in spring training this year.
The team won 90 games last season, but it was tasked with the challenge of replacing Shin-Soo Choo, while questions about rotational depth and whether or not Billy Hamilton would be ready to step in as an everyday player were abundant leading up to spring training.
In short, there was a lot of work to do this spring, and to this point, next to nothing has been settled.
The team is dealing with a number of injuries to key players, and some players who could have helped replace them have proven to be massive busts to this point. Luckily, there have been a few surprises in camp, and some players have seemingly come out of nowhere to make a strong case for inclusion on the 25-man roster at the start of the regular season.
To get you up to speed, I've compiled a list of recently cut players, surprise performances, busts and injury updates. Enjoy!
All stats current through Mar. 20, 2014 and are courtesy of baseball-reference.com.
Most Recent Cuts
The Reds have made two sets of cuts in the last two weeks, and a total of 18 players have either been cut, optioned or reassigned to another level.
These two sets of cuts brought the Reds' roster down to 42 players.
Optioned to Triple-A
- Carlos Contreras (RHP)
- Daniel Corcino (RHP)
- Tucker Barnhart (C)
- David Holmberg (LHP)
- Ryan LaMarre (OF)
- Donald Lutz (OF)
- Curtis Partch (RHP)
- Chad Rogers (RHP)
Optioned to Double-A
- Juan Duran (OF)
- Ismael Guillon (LHP)
- Yorman Rodriguez (OF)
Reassigned to Minor League Camp
- Tim Crabbe (RHP)
- Michael Lorenzen (RHP)
- Rossmel Perez (C)
- Max Ramirez (C)
- Reynaldo Navarro (INF)
- Robert Stephenson (RHP)
- Henry Rodriguez (INF)
Ryan Ludwick is still going to be the opening day starter for the 2014 season. However, Chris Heisey has made a solid case for himself in the discussion of who the everyday left fielder should be.
Heisey has had opportunities to start in the past, but he has never quite been able to capitalize on those opportunities and has largely functioned as a fourth outfielder for most of his career. This year, though, the 29-year-old came into camp with a new stance, and it looks to have paid early dividends.
Over 42 at-bats, Heisey is slashing .333/.333/.810 with five home runs, five doubles, 11 RBI and eight runs scored. While this looks great on paper, it is still just spring training, and some things haven't changed.
Over his four-year career, Heisey has struck out at an above-league average rate, and that trend looks to have continued into spring training. Heisey owns a K/BB ratio of 7:0.
Obviously, that K/BB ratio won't continue into the regular season, however, it still points to the larger trend of striking out far too much.
Even so, it's worth keeping an eye on Heisey during the season's early stages.
No player in the Reds camp has been a bigger surprise than Roger Bernadina. The 29-year-old was picked off the scrap heap after flopping out of Washington last season, but you'd never know it from his spring performance.
Through 26 at-bats, Bernadina boasts a lofty slash line of .462/.600/.808 with one home run, two triples, two doubles, four RBI, 10 runs scored and a 4:6 K/BB ratio.
Bernadina has outperformed nearly every player on the Reds roster, but the likelihood of him making said roster is slim. The team has a set outfield with Ludwick, Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce in left field, center field and right field, respectively.
After those three, Heisey has a firm hold on the fourth outfield spot, while newcomer Skip Schumaker provides additional outfield depth.
The likelihood of the club carrying a fifth outfielder is slim but not implausible. With Jack Hannahan, a likely member of the Reds bench, working through an injury, a spot could become available should he prove unable to start the season with the big league club.
Should this situation arise, Bernadina would be the first player to get an extended look come Opening Day.
The Reds really could have benefited from the addition of a right-handed power bat. Instead, they went out and signed the utilityman Schumaker.
It didn't seem like the best move at the time, but Schumaker has done a lot to inspire confidence in Reds fans this spring. Over his first 32 at-bats, Schumaker is the proud owner of a surprisingly good .438/.500/.625 slash line, to go along with one home run, three doubles, six RBI, nine runs scored and a 2:5 K/BB ratio.
Schumaker brings with him the ability to play multiple positions, including second base and all three outfield positions. With relative uncertainties in left field and center field, Schumaker could prove to be a valuable piece for the Reds during the 2014 season.
Hamilton's going to get on base at a .400 clip in the regular season, right? Well, probably not, but he's displayed some improvements in his game during spring training that could result in a season that exceeds initial expectations.
Hamilton's OppQual rating clocks in at 9.0 this spring, so he's playing against a decent level of competition, and he's creating tremendous optimism with his late-spring stat line.
In 40 at-bats—the second most on the team—Hamilton's sporting a .325/.413/.450 slash line with one home run, two doubles, five RBI, 12 runs scored, a 6:6 K/BB and nine stolen bases. Hamilton was initially a fringe candidate for this list of players, but even in spring training, it's surprising to see him bat above .300 and get on base at a plus-.400 clip.
Beyond the numbers though, Hamilton looks far more comfortable at the plate than he did last season. He has done an excellent job of working counts and drawing walks, while pitchers are trying to throw strikes and get ahead in counts.
Brett Marshall's offseason was hardly typical. By the time he joined the Reds in February, Marshall was already on his third team and seemed destined for an assignment to Triple-A Louisville.
Despite the tumultuous nature of his offseason, Marshall has turned in an outstanding performance in the team's spring camp. Over nine innings pitched, Marshall has turned in a solid stat line, including a 1.00 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP, while averaging 11.0 K/9, 7.0 BB/9 and 1.57 K/BB.
Marshall's walk and strikeout rates will obviously come down during the regular season, but his strikeout rate could see an uptick this season given the increased velocity displayed in his fastball.
According to Brooksbaseball.net, Marshall's fastball averaged 89.48 mph over three games during the 2013 season. Over the pitches they've tracked this spring, Marshall's fastball velocity has averaged out at 94.25 mph.
The Reds are hoping right now that Marshall's increased velocity and subsequent spring performance are a sign of things to come, because the 23-year-old may be called upon much sooner than expected given the recent injury bug that's plagued the team's pitching staff.
Corcino has experienced a very quick fall from grace over the past year, and his brief showing at spring training has only lowered his stock within the organization.
Two years ago, if the Reds were dealing with all of the same injuries to their pitching staff, Corcino would have figured heavily into the their plans for the regular season. Now, not so much.
The 23-year-old made 28 appearances last season (23 starts) and finished with a horrendous stat line, including a 5.86 ERA, a 1.66 WHIP and averages of 6.3 K/9, 5.1 BB/9, 1.23 K/BB and 9.8 H/9.
This spring, Corcino followed up that performance with one of equal disappointment. Over three games, Corcino never managed two get out of the first inning and allowed 13 earned runs on eight hits, including one home run, and seven walks to just three strikeouts over two innings of work.
Corcino played his way right back to Triple-A this spring, and there's a strong possibility that we don't see him at the big league level during the 2014 season.
Ramon Santiago was signed on in the hopes that he would be able to step in and be a solid, switch-hitting backup to Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart. If his spring numbers are any indication, that may not be in the cards for the 2014 season.
Santiago will still make the roster out of camp, but his stat line hardly inspires confidence in his abilities. Over 35 at-bats, the 34-year-old boasts a .200/.282/.257 slash line with two doubles, three RBI, four runs scored and a 6:4 K/BB ratio.
One positive from Santiago's stat line is that he's stolen three bases, but that trend is unlikely to carry over into the regular season given the fact that he's stolen just five bases over the last six seasons combined.
The veteran infielder may play his way off the roster should Bernadina and Chris Nelson continue to swing the bat as well as they have, but Santiago's versatility and defense will likely put him over the top in that position battle.
The Reds inked Jonathan Broxton to a huge three-year, $21 million deal prior to the 2013 season. Unfortunately, to this point, that contract has been a rather large waste.
Broxton was shut down last season due to forearm discomfort, and he underwent surgery in August to repair a torn flexor mass in his right forearm. The 29-year-old is still working his way back from that surgery, and he has made a series of important strides in the last week.
According to Sanchez, Broxton threw live batting practice Tuesday, March 11 and felt good about the results. Here's what Broxton had to say of that outing.
Arm-wise I feel great. Command-wise I struggled today but that was the first time I faced batters since before the surgery. All of that will come around. I'm really pleased with the way my arm is bouncing back and how I'm feeling out there on an everyday basis.
Broxton followed up a solid throwing session with his first appearance in a spring training game March 17. In that game, Broxton pitched one inning and needed just eight pitches to log a ground out, a fly out and a strikeout.
Depending on how quickly Broxton gets himself into form, he may or may not be ready for Opening Day. If he proves unready, then Pedro Beato, Trevor Bell or Nick Christiani will likely take his spot. However, with two weeks separating the team and its opening series against the St. Louis Cardinals, there's a good chance Broxton breaks camp as one of the team's setup men.
Another Reds pitcher, another injury. Actually, Mat Latos has dealt with two separate injuries this spring.
Immediately following the end of the 2013 season, Latos underwent surgery to have bone chips removed from his throwing elbow. After successfully rehabbing his elbow, Latos was back to work, only to be sidelined by a knee injury.
After falling during a throwing session back in February, Latos underwent surgery to repair his meniscus. To this point, the 26-year-old's rehab has been successful, and he even fired two scoreless innings in his first appearance since the surgery.
Latos will have to make a few more appearances before he can rejoin the team, but he appears to be on track to pitch some time in April.
Another pitcher. Sensing a trend here?
Sean Marshall has been dealing with shoulder tendinitis for most of spring training, and it looks as though he'll be unable to start the regular season with the big league club. The 31-year-old has made some progress, but he has thrown just two bullpens the entire spring.
The most recent one came Monday, March 17, and according to Sheldon, Marshall showed no visible signs of discomfort following the session.
Marshall has to get into game action before he can become part of the team's regular-season bullpen, but to this point, there's no timetable on when that will occur.
If you followed the Aroldis Chapman saga Wednesday, then you know what an ugly scene it was. If not, you can check out this video, via Deadspin's Timothy Burke, and see for yourself—if you're at all squeamish, I'd advise skipping that one.
Chapman was struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of Royals catcher Salvador Perez. The line drive was registered on a pitch that Chapman had thrown 99 mph.
Chapman was carted off the field and taken to the hospital, and although the full extent of his injuries is unknown at this time, many feared that the results would be far worse. According to CBS Sports' Dayn Perry, Chapman was hospitalized with facial fractures above his left eye.
The 26-year-old underwent additional tests Thursday, and doctors ruled out a potential brain injury, per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Chapman underwent surgery Thursday, and according to team doctor Timothy Kremchek, recovery time is a "possible" 6-8 weeks, via Rosenthal.