There’s been much debate around the ‘Nation about where the Reds’ top-level prospects will be to start the upcoming season. Based upon some recent comments by Reds Director of Player Development Terry Reynolds and how the outfield situation pans out, the starting lineup for the Louisville Bats could be a very strong prospect-filled one.
Reynolds was quoted in an article by MLB’s Lisa Winston in late November:
“At this point, Reynolds said, he sees Frazier opening the season as Louisville’s left fielder and Valaika as their second baseman, with Cozart at shortstop.”
Reynolds added recently, in a Mark Sheldon article on Juan Francisco, “Our plan is to start Francisco at third base in Louisville, unless something happens during Spring Training with the big league club.”
Now consider how the OF could possibly play out. Drew Stubbs could easily find himself back in AAA next April with a poor Spring Training at the plate, especially with Willy Taveras and his $4M contract still in the fold. Wladimir Balentien has put up some great minor league numbers, had a decent late season showing last year, and is out of options. It’s very feasible that as of right now he could be the RH power portion of a platoon in LF with either Dickerson or Nix. Nix, with his excellent defense at all three OF positions and his ability to hit with pop from the left side of the plate, has a good shot at sticking as the 5th OF. That gives us a pretty realistic shot right now of having Bruce, Taveras, Dickerson, Balentien, and Nix as the OFs on the opening day roster.
So where does all this leave the opening day Louisville lineup? Well, it could look something like this.
It’s likely that Alonso could start the season at AA instead of AAA Louisville which would move Dorn to 1B. There is admittedly a lot of variables involved, but it’s not much of a reach to imagine the above as the opening day AAA Louisville Bats lineup. It will be interesting to see if the Reds make any moves between now and then to pave the way for any of these prospects to open the season on the Reds 25 man roster.