4 Prospects Cincinnati Reds Will Promote in September
September is quickly approaching, and given the Cincinnati Reds' current situation, it can't get here quickly enough.
The Reds have dug themselves quite a hole in recent weeks. If they are going to get back into contention, they are going to need their stars to catch fire in a hurry. Otherwise, the final month could be a time for minor leaguers to get some unexpected playing time.
Southpaw David Holmberg is up in the majors right now, so he isn't on this list. However, if he gets sent down between now and the end of the month, expect him to be recalled.
With how banged up Cincinnati has been this year, most of the team's September call-ups have already made an appearance in the majors this season.
Too Early to Tell
RHP Raisel Iglesias
RHP Carlos Contreras
RHP Daniel Corcino
OF Juan Duran
OF Yorman Rodriguez
Not Expected to be Promoted
RHP Ben Lively
RHP Michael Lorenzen
RHP Robert Stephenson
Entering the 2014 season, Reds fans were hoping to see Robert Stephenson debut in September as the team made a push for the playoffs. Unfortunately, the team's postseason chances have taken a big hit recently. It doesn't appear that the team's top prospect will be promoted to the majors this year either.
Cincinnati has used two minor leaguers for spot starts this week, and according to The Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay, Stephenson wasn't considered for a start. His mediocre season in Double-A doesn't bode well for him, and given that he's not on the 40-man roster, it's not likely that he gets called up in 2014.
Ben Lively and Michael Lorenzen have each had solid seasons, but given that they are not on the 40-man roster either, they are unlikely to get a shot in the majors in September.
There are a few players on the 40-man roster who could get promoted when rosters expand. Neither Juan Duran nor Yorman Rodriguez has stood out at Double-A this season, but their bats could help the team in the final month. Right-handed pitcher Daniel Corcino has struggled in spring training and in the minors in each of the past two seasons, but the Reds could give him a chance to get his feet wet in the bullpen. Cincinnati's bullpen has struggled recently, so it has nothing to lose by giving Corcino a chance to pitch in relief.
Carlos Contreras was optioned to the minors on Thursday, per the Reds' Twitter account, but he will likely get called back up in September—if healthy.
Right-handed pitcher Raisel Iglesias has finally made it to the United States and started throwing with the organization. The club views him as a starter in the future, but his arm would likely help the bullpen this year if the organization wants to get him some experience. It's not clear as to what the organization's plan for the pitcher is, so who knows what it will do with him the rest of this season.
C Tucker Barnhart
MLB: 13 G, .139/.205/.222, 1 HR, 0 2B, 1 RBI
Triple-A: 67 G, .235/.317/.318, 1 HR, 9 2B, 3 3B, 25 RBI
Most years, Corky Miller has been brought up to be the third-string catcher. That time has passed, and now Tucker Barnhart will be the guy to fill that role.
With Brayan Pena playing a lot of first base this season, Barnhart's presence on the roster is very important. It gives Bryan Price the ability to manage games differently than he could right now because he would have a third catcher on the roster. He could pinch run for Pena or Devin Mesoraco late in games and be fine because Barnhart would be on the bench.
Barnhart has already gotten a taste of what life in the majors is like. The offensive numbers don't look great, but the 23-year-old has held his own in limited action.
The young catcher has done very well in handling the pitching staff while behind the plate. He's never been much of an offensive threat in the minors, so the Reds aren't expecting him to be an elite hitter. As long as he continues to play great defense, there will be a spot for him on the September roster.
1B Neftali Soto
MLB: 21 G, .100/.097/.133, 0 HR, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Triple-A: 62 G, .293/.341/.406, 2 HR, 20 2B, 26 RBI
Given that the Reds don't know when Joey Votto will be back, Neftali Soto is a virtual lock to get called up when rosters expand.
The Reds don't have a primary first baseman on the roster without Votto. Right now, Bryan Price is forced to use Brayan Pena, Todd Frazier and Jack Hannahan at first base. Soto may not get a lot of playing time when he is called up, but he would still give the team a legitimate first baseman.
Coming up through the system, Soto has been touted as a big hitter. The right-handed-hitting first baseman hit 31 home runs in 2011, but he had only hit about 15 long balls in each of the past two seasons before 2014.
This season, his power has gone missing. His average (.288) continues to improve, so he has at least been able to make up for a lack of power with a solid average.
Soto has posted back-to-back excellent springs. He hit .345 last spring and followed that up with three home runs and a .383 average this year. Unfortunately, his bat hasn't done much when he's made appearances for the Reds in the regular season. He has a .071 average with only one extra-base hit in 42 career at-bats in the majors.
Getting the young first baseman some more at-bats at the end of this season could go a long way in helping him develop as a hitter. If he is able to show that he has made some adjustments, he could also regain some trade value.
Cincinnati needs depth at first base, so look for Soto to be brought up next month.
1B/OF Donald Lutz
MLB: 18 G, .212/.278/.333, 0 HR, 4 2B, 0 RBI
Triple-A: 40 G, .250/.316/.417, 5 HR, 9 2B, 1 3B, 27 RBI
Double-A: 23 G, .360/.412/.685, 6 HR, 7 2B, 2 3B, 16 RBI
Outside of Kristopher Negron, Donald Lutz has been the only young position player the team has brought up who has looked capable at the plate.
Lutz hit .241 with a home run and a double in 34 games in the majors last season. He hasn't been able to hit for a strong average in limited action this season, but he has been able to notch some extra-base hits.
Cincinnati's offense hasn't been consistent this season. When the team needs a big bat off the bench late in games, Chris Heisey is about its only option. Jack Hannahan and Skip Schumaker are the only left-handed options off the bench, and neither player provides much pop.
Lutz hit at least 20 home runs in both 2011 and 2012, so he would be a welcome addition to the team's bench in September. The left-handed slugger hasn't looked overmatched at the plate, which shows that he can at least give the team a good at-bat late in games.
RHP Dylan Axelrod
MLB: 1 GS, 0-0, 6 IP, 7 H (2 HR), 2 R, 7 K/1 BB
Triple-A (Louisville): 5 GS, 2-1, 3.06 ERA, 35.1 IP, 1 CG (1 SHO), 27 H (3 HR), 24 K/5 BB
Triple-A (Charlotte): 18 G/16 GS, 6-7, 4.50 ERA, 88 IP, 96 H (9 HR), 76 K/36 BB
If Homer Bailey is done for the season, or if Cincinnati needs a spot start down the stretch, Dylan Axelrod is likely the team's top option to fill in.
Cincinnati acquired Axelrod from the Chicago White Sox in the middle of the season. All he has done since then is be named the International League Player of the Week and make a solid start in the majors.
Axelrod impressed in his start at Coors Field last weekend. He held the Colorado Rockies to just two solo shots and had his changeup working all night. He gave the team a chance to win, which is all anyone could ask for.
Unfortunately for him, a postponement in Colorado pushed his start back one day. That meant that the team had to bring up David Holmberg to make a start on Thursday rather than use Axelrod on short rest. The right-hander certainly did enough to earn another start, but things beyond his control decided his fate.
Axelrod will be up in September, whether it's as a starter or a reliever. The bullpen could obviously use some help, but if the Reds need a starting pitcher, Axelrod will likely get another opportunity.