Here's a Thought: Recapping Minor League Free Agent Losses--Cincinnati Reds
In the offseason, much is made of the comings and goings of established major league players in free agency.
But many often overlook the same thing happening in the minor leagues.
In the "Recapping Minor League Free Agent Losses" series, I'll be looking at what, if anything, each team is losing at the minor league levels.
I'm not going to bother covering every player, because not all of them are very important and I have little to say about many of them. I'll just be touching on those who I think could be of value to another team in free agency.
Anyway, let's have a look at the Reds!
The Reds had a relatively small number of minor league free agents, with just 12 (I know I've been saying that for the last few articles, but trust me, some teams have A LOT more).
Right-hander Greg Atencio is a journeyman righty who did a solid job last year, getting over a strikeout per inning while generally keeping the ball down. He might be up for garbage-time relief in the majors.
You may remember Ben Davis, a former switch-hitting catcher in the majors. Well, these days he's a knuckleballer who got signed out of indie ball and pitched impressively for the Reds' High-A team this year down the stretch. I have no idea if he's legit, but it will be interesting if anyone signs him and assigns him to a more challenging level.
Jeff Kennard is a pudgy sinkerballing righty. Like Atencio, he's not particularly exceptional in Triple-A.
Alexander Smit is a 24-year-old lefty from the Netherlands who holds considerable potential, throwing in the low 90s and showing a good knuckle-curve. He does come with major durability and command question marks, but turned in a decent age-23 season in Double-A this year as a swingman. He's worth giving a Triple-A look to.
Another lefty swingman, 26-year-old Camilo Vazquez pitched just well enough in Double-A and Triple-A to perhaps get another look somewhere in 2010, but doesn't do anything well enough to merit much MLB consideration.
If catchers Chris Kroski and Korey Feiner could do much with the bat, they'd have real shots at the majors. But their skills are primarily defensive, and though they both have nice batting eyes, they're pretty close to useless when it comes to actually doing something with the bat.
Former A's major leaguer Wes Bankston has some power and defensive versatility (1B/3B/LF/RF), but doesn't have the plate discipline, contact ability, or athleticism to be more than an emergency option in the majors.
Shaun Cumberland has a nice broad-based skill set, but the center fielder had an awful 2009 in Double-A after a strong AA/AAA 2008. At 25 now, the former Rays prospect may be out of chances, but could conceivably get another shot. Given his solid speed and defense and his .287/.359/.427 2008, he's probably worth it for teams looking for Triple-A outfield depth.
Finally, former Twins outfielder Lew Ford is still playing, but was terrible in 11 Triple-A games in 2009.
That's all for this edition of Here's a Thought's "Recapping Minor League Free Agent Losses" series! The Rockies are next...
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