Spring training got underway two weeks ago for the big leaguers. Today, however, is the first day that minor league pitchers and catchers report. Position players will report on March 4th. The first minor league games will begin on March 17th for those of you who will be in Goodyear, that’s when you can catch actual games – though they will be doing workouts on the fields prior to that.
The biggest news that’s related to the minor leagues that’s happened since my last column here is one that most of you probably saw on Friday. Jose Siri, the reigning Reds minor league hitter of the year, injured his thumb on Friday after colliding with the wall. He will miss some time, though all we know at this point is that it’s “several weeks”. How many that happens to be is uncertain. At this point the question may be more about if he’ll be ready in time to begin the year, likely with the Daytona Tortugas, or if he would begin the season on the disabled list.
When it comes to other minor leaguers, the guy that is still a prospect that has stood out the most is probably Tyler Mahle. It’s incredibly early, and most guys haven’t played much, so take this all with a grain of salt. Still, Mahle has made two appearances and thrown 2.0 shutout innings in each outing, and he’s looked real good while doing it. At the plate Mason Williams, a newcomer to the organization, is off to a hot start. He’s 4-8 with a walk. All four of his hits have been doubles.
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Fangraphs Jeff Sullivan looked at the 25-and-under rankings by looking at the projected WAR for the Top 10 players in the organization. The Reds did well, but not great. They came in 10th overall on the chart, falling right between Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox. Among the National League Central the Reds are well ahead of everyone else. Pittsburgh ranks 15th, with the Cubs ranking 18th, the Cardinals 21st, and the Brewers 22nd. That may bode well moving forward if things work out as the projections suggest. With that said, they will still need to overcome that over-25 talent, and that’s where money in free agency comes into play and the Reds just aren’t able to keep up with a team like the Cubs, and probably not even the Cardinals.
While the Reds signed a guy who could possibly wind up being the backup to Billy Hamilton this year, things look a lot better on the farm system in center. While there may not be immediate help for 2018 – center is the deepest position in the entire organization. The best prospects are still in the lower levels, but there are a whole lot of them that look like they have plenty of promise.
Last, but not least, I went through the 2018 Cincinnati Reds Media Guide last week and noted all of the new signings in the last signing period (and a few from the previous one). The signing class was a bit smaller in the past year than in previous years, though there are several reasons for that. The Reds signed players out of six countries, including one out of Italy.