Guys and gals, it’s been two months since we last had one of these question and answer sessions. And when I’m busy, these are my go-to because they are easier for me to deal with on my own time schedule. I’ve been busy all week with The Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List, which started on Monday and will run through Friday. With that said, at least for today, I’m going to avoid answering questions here about those rankings. If you have questions about specific guys, let’s have it – but I don’t want to get into “why is so-and-so ranked ahead of so-and-so” here.

While the minor league stuff is my specialty, I’m certainly more than willing to answer questions about the big league team, too. I’ll be around to start answering questions starting roughly at noon, though you can submit them before then. Anything asked before 8pm will be answered – but I’m not sure I will get to anything beyond then. Just leave your questions in the comments section below and I’ll reply directly to your comment. There are a few rules, though.

  • Try to avoid questions that will require me to look up answers (such as: Who was the last guy to steal 25 bags and hit 25 home runs in the system).
  • Try to avoid overly long answer-type questions. I tend to give thorough and detailed answers as it is, so please don’t have me type out a novel.
  • Each user can ask TWO questions.
  • Ask your questions before 8PM and I will be sure to answer it. If you ask after 8PM on Wednesday, then I can’t guarantee that I will answer your question.

33 Responses

  1. Woodrow

    Thoughts on the Reds minor league development staff – specifically related to pitching, both at the individual affiliate level and “roving” instructors?

    Any opportunities to review training methods for pitching in offseason or spring? – uninformed assumption is the Reds have been more old school traditional than technology and data driven (although did see some posts of Lorenzen individually at Driveline outside Seattle).

    • Doug Gray

      In the past I have certainly had some issues with regards to how some of the pitching was handled as it came up through the chain. This was several years ago, but one year there were a few incidents where a guy would be promoted from one level to the next, and the pitching coach at the higher level would IMMEDIATELY change their mechanics. This happened to several pitchers that season. It just seemed that the pitching coaches and staff, overall, were not on the same page. I certainly think that some pitching coaches in the organization are better than others are. You’re going to have that in every organization though.

      With the roving instructors, I think that they tend to do a good job. I obviously don’t see them every day because they aren’t there every day, and neither am I. But I do run into them throughout the year while I’m traveling around (and so are they). When they are in town, they certainly work well with the guys on whatever it is that their thing is that they work with.

      What I am interested in seeing is how things change with Eric Lee and Shawn Pender taking over the player development chain. Pender is at the top, in a newly created role that’s above the job that Lee is taking over, which used to be the top of the chain in player development. Pender’s job, at least one of the things he was tasked with this past year, was to evaluate the farm system of the organization. I think it’s interesting that he’s now taking over the job. I have not spoken to him yet about potential things that could be changing, but it’s been something that I’ve been thinking about for a while now since the job was created – how does he change things? Will he change some things? Did he see things during 2018 that he thought could be done better? Could be done differently?

      Michael Lorenzen went out to Driveline for some baseline testing kind of stuff. He’s hardly the first guy from the organization to head out there. A few years ago Tony Cingrani went out there to develop something other than a fastball. They worked on a cutter. The Reds, as you’d expect, were aware of it all and was in touch with the guys through the process. More than a few minor leaguers have worked with Driveline, too, over the past few seasons.

      The Reds do use analytics on the minor league side of things. Now, how the data they do have/get is being translated into use on the field and within development, I can’t say. I’ve talked with some people about it, and it’s not always the easiest answer. Not that I think that they are avoiding the answer, but the question of how to translate some things is a lot easier in theory than in reality. Let’s take this whole “hit more fly balls” thing. Yeah, in theory, that’s a good idea unless you just don’t have the ability to hit the ball over the outfielders head. 90% of professional players do have that ability, though. But it’s not just “go out and hit the ball in the air”. It’s going to require changing a swing. Do you want to make a real swing change on a 19 year old who is having some success today? Or do you let that guy have success, build the confidence, let them develop a little more naturally and figure out their swing over the next 18 months and see what happens as they mature both physically and mentally? That mental maturity of what they can and can’t hit may be all that’s really needed to change that batted ball pattern, and not a swing change at all. It’s not always just a “let’s do this” scenario.

  2. Bill j

    Doug, what are the chances anyone can make the jump from Double A to the Reds in spring training?

    • Doug Gray

      Not good. Look at the Double-A roster from last year. The only guys that seem like they could be in the conversation is Tony Santillan or Alex Powers. Neither is on the 40-man, though Powers may be by the time. He’ll be Rule 5 eligible this year and is currently pitching well in the Arizona Fall League. But, he’s got more of that 5th/6th/7th inning kind of reliever feel than a back-end guy. There’s a decent chance he goes unprotected. With Santillan, I just don’t think they’ll rush him. He’ll be 21 on opening day and has 11 starts above A-ball. Outstanding stuff, but they’ve got other options to look at/go to in order to give him the time he needs.

  3. Kap

    Hi Doug.

    1. With Scooter, Senzel, and even Herrera in the mix for second base, will Shed Long emerge as a main candidate to be traded for pitching this offseason? If so, what is his value? (kinda cheated here)

    2. Where will Hunter Greene end up at the end of the 2019 season?

    • Doug Gray

      1. Tough question. If the Reds are serious about Senzel playing some outfield, that means that maybe you want to hold onto Shed Long. If the team decides that it’s not the smartest move to extend Scooter, someone has to play second base in 2020. Maybe that’s Herrera, but they showed no interest at all in actually playing him there in 2018, so rightly or wrongly, I don’t think that they think he’s the answer. That would put Long next in line. That said, I don’t think Long is the guy that can carry a big trade. He’s a guy who would be a nice addition to a package led by someone else.

      2. Double-A would be my guess – assuming he stays healthy for the year (this isn’t me saying I don’t think he will, but if he does miss some time, that obviously alters if/when someone would be promoted).

  4. bred

    Doug, who do you rate as potential all stars. It seems that the Reds have a lot of projected mid level talent, but true difference makers not so much.

    • Doug Gray

      Let’s note that you said potential, and not likelihood:
      Nick Senzel
      Hunter Greene
      Taylor Trammell
      Tyler Stephenson
      Tony Santillan
      Jonathan India
      Jose Siri
      Ryan Hendrix

  5. Nate

    The front office stated they know their core outfielders going forward when they traded Duvall. Is the “core” Winker-Hamilton-Schebler or are there others in the mix?

    How do you view the switch to Chattanooga for the AA team? (One of the best logos in baseball in my opinion)

    Thanks Doug!

    • Doug Gray

      I’ll be very surprised if those three outfielders are the starters in June of 2020. Mostly Hamilton, but I could honestly see two of the three being on the outside (either gone, or moved into a bench role). I think the core comment was more about the timeframe of now.

      For me, personally, it makes the travel much easier. I went to Chattanooga this year for the first time. I had no idea what was going to transpire 7 weeks later – it was just a much easier, and cheaper trip to make to see Pensacola play than going to Pensacola. From a business standpoint, it’s cheaper and easier for me, and that’s great. But, there are some things that I currently don’t like about it. The biggest thing is that right now, Chattanooga is literally the only Double-A team that does not have the package. So unless that changes, you can’t watch the home games online, and that’s going to be a killer for me if they don’t fix it. The stadium change…. Pensacola is gorgeous. Chattanooga isn’t bad by any means, but you can’t beat the view in Pensacola.

      There are some good things, though. Pensacola’s home ballpark plays incredibly weird. Chattanooga plays a little more neutral. When it comes to getting video from behind the plate – it was nearly impossible in Pensacola. In Chattanooga it’s far easier. That is a good thing for me.

      Things could change with the Reds coming in, but the guy running the Trackman system in Chattanooga – he was in the press box. In Pensacola that person was not. Being able to ask how hard a guy is throwing, and getting accurate data, is outstanding in these scenarios. Getting hit information on home runs or hard hit balls is much easier this way, too.

      From a Reds organizational standpoint, I’m sure that they like the idea of being back in Tennessee. It’s closer to Cincinnati, and they can try to market the big league club a bit more in the area. It’ll take a while, and who knows if they will remain there long term – but in theory, it’s a good opportunity for the Reds to try and “expand” their reach a little bit.

  6. Ethan L

    1) What’s Satchel Mcelroy’s future with the organization?
    2) How do you think Senzel will fit into the major league lineup in terms of position and batting order in 2019?

    • Doug Gray

      1. He’s been sort of a 4th outfielder for his career. When that’s the role of a guy in rookie ball, it usually doesn’t bode well for much change in the future.

      2. Position, I have no idea. The team could trade Gennett and open up second. The team could trade Hamilton or Winker or Schebler and open up a spot in the outfield. Really tough to say. With the spot in the lineup, it’s also pretty tough to say because we don’t really know what a David Bell lineup looks like. Ideally, Nick Senzel is a guy who fits into a spot somewhere between 1-5.

  7. Jim Walker

    How much weight should we attach to Hunter Greene’s self declaration he is now 100%? Is there really any way to know this short of him demonstrating the capability to pitch like he is 100% over a period of time?

    • Doug Gray

      I would *think* that he wouldn’t make such a statement based on nothing. He thanked the doctors and rehab guys. He knows something. So until we hear otherwise, and I’m hoping to speak to someone soon and try to get a more clear answer on it, what this means for his offseason, and all of that kind of stuff, I’m taking it at face value. That the rehab worked and his tear has healed.

  8. WillieG

    With the trend of starters going fewer innings (4-5 innings) and relievers going longer (2-3 innings), what Reds SP prospects would benefit the most by the new usage? For instance, would Vlad Guttierez see an uptick in stuff and value? Scott Moss?

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think we’re going to see that trend become overwhelming over the course of the full season for a while. I do believe we will see it with some guys, probably more of your #4/5 guys. But that’s a lot to ask of a pitching staff over a 162 game schedule that doesn’t really have off days. It’s a lot easier to do that kind of thing in the playoffs when there are built in travel days, multiple off days between most series.

      It’s tough to say how the value would change with a guy. Innings are valuable. In order to make up for fewer innings, you’ve got to pitch significantly better. And really, until we can see that in action, it’s tough to say. That said, just about everyone has their stuff play up in shorter roles. You can just “let it go” and not try to hold something back because you might need to pitch 7 tonight. If you know you’re going to be throwing 50 pitches or less, that’s a lot different in how you approach things.

      Teams are still going to want the 6-7 inning pitcher. I think that we’ll still have those guys, but we’re just going to have a lot less of them because it’s going to be the true #1/2 guys that get that leeway.

  9. Lilith

    Hunter Greene had an extremely lopsided year last year. He started out the year beyond dreadful, due in no small part to some terrible luck, but still. He was bad. And then, seemingly over night, he became incredible. What changed? Was it his approach? His mechanics? Did you notice something?

    It doesn’t make sense to me that the Reds have two minor league affiliates at the same level (essentially), with Billings and Greeneville. Why would the Reds purchase another franchise in Rookie-A instead of a franchise in short season A, like the New York-Penn league? Or is the Pioneer League more competitive than the Appalachian League?

    • Doug Gray

      Luck changed, mostly. His BABIP in the first five starts his BABIP against was .633. SIX THIRTY THREE. The remaining 13 starts his BABIP was a normal .295. With that said, there were certainly some changes. He spoke about using his fastball better to establish things, some stuff he wasn’t willing to talk about on the record – but by-and-large it was simply the cold hard fact that every time a guy made contact against him it wasn’t magically turning into a hit.

      With the buying of a franchise, there’s a lot that goes into this answer. First, you can’t just create a team out of thin air. So if you want to add a team you’ve got to find one that’s for sale. Teams don’t go up for sale whenever you want them to. Second, and I think this is also pretty important, this team was probably far cheaper to buy than others, because they don’t own the stadium that they play in.

      When it comes to the competitive level of the Appy/Pioneer Leagues – they are definitely the “same level”. But some will argue that the Pioneer League is definitely the “tougher” of the two leagues. I don’t know how much I buy that, but it’s certainly something I’ve heard from people that work in the game (though I’ve also heard that they are the same level – but what I haven’t heard is someone say that the Appy League is the tougher of the two – so take all of that for what it is). All of that said, “Short-Season A”, at least to me, is literally the same level as the Appy/Pioneer League. Look at the players who go there. It’s the same kinds of guys that go to the Appy/Pioneer League.

  10. davemoorewvu

    Unfortunately, I’ve never seen Senzel play. Can you compare him to a current or former major leaguer?

    • Doug Gray

      I’ll say this much to start out with: I hate comps for players. When people make comps you never know what they are actually comping. For some scouts, the comp is “they look like this guy” in terms of athletic movements/mechanics/swing and not “he’ll produce like” this guy. And often, the two things are very, very different. When I make comps, which I HATE doing, I’m always going to be trying to say “he’ll produce stats like”.

      With Senzel, the comp he’s gotten most often is Alex Bregman. They are similar players, but when you look at what Bregman did this year, and what Senzel did, it’s tough to say that’s a fair one. Bregman had a great strikeout-to-walk ratio this season and showed borderline elite power (51 doubles, 31 homers). Senzel was a year younger, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio wasn’t nearly as good (it was fine) in Triple-A, and while I think he’ll hit for plenty of power, it’s tough to say he’ll be a 50+ double, 30+ home run guy, too.

      For me, rather than throw comps out there, I prefer to just say what I think a guy can produce. To me, Senzel’s a .280/.360/.500 guy with outstanding infield defense at 2B/3B who can steal you 25 bags.

  11. Vander

    1) Jose Israel Garcia: Will he hit, and how much? He came in with sky-high hype and then didn’t really do much in Dayton. Was that mainly due to not playing for a while? Or were expectations just way too high given his signing bonus?

    2) What kind of tool grades would you put on everyone’s favorite snack cake, Debby Santana? Hit? Power? Speed? Icing flavor? Defense?

    • Doug Gray

      1. I like, but don’t love the hit tool for Garcia. I think there’s a lot more to it than what he showed overall on the season. But, he also hit .288 in the second half. I think that’s probably closer to the projection than the .197 he hit in the first half. But, I also think there’s a big difference between where his hit tool is in terms of the raw grade and the ability to use it. The plate discipline is a problem. He’s going to have to walk more. Be more selective. If he can do those things, maybe he’s a .270 hitter. But if he can’t, and I do think there’s a chance that he can’t, then he might be a .220 hitter.

      The original plan seemed to be to keep him back in extended spring training to start the year. But then he went out in the spring and just hit the crap out of the ball all spring. I think that the weather played a factor in it, too. He had never played in cold weather before. In April he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt under his jersey during games. He’s a raw, but toolsy guy. The offensive tools are more tools than skills at this point because the plate discipline doesn’t quite let them play up.

      2. Having never seen him play, I can only pass on what I’ve heard from other sources. Reports on the defense were better than I expected given the errors. Made strides in figuring things out at the plate, above-average power potential, could hit in the future. No clue on the speed.

  12. Johanna

    Do the Reds actually promote people too slowly? How do they compare to other teams in terms of willingness to promote aggressively?

    Opinions of Finol? Could he start next year in Dayton, and do you think he’d succeed there?

    • Doug Gray

      Johanna, sorry for the late response to this, your comment got caught up in the pending folder for some reason.

      No, the Cincinnati Reds do not promote players slowly, and the sooner that notion and idea dies, the better. I always see people point to the Braves and Ronald Acuna, or Ozzie Albies – guys like that, and then point to the Reds and say “where are our 19 and 20-year-olds?”. Well, they are in A-ball. Because the Reds simply don’t have guys that talented.

      I hate to point things out like this, but last summer it was “Taylor Trammell is still in Daytona, if he were in another organization he’d be in Double-A, Triple-A”. And you know what, maybe another team would have promoted him to Double-A. I said after May that I would have done so. The Reds didn’t. And, well, they were probably right in not doing it. From June 1st through the end of the year he hit .256/.346/.349 for Daytona. He hit 2 home runs in 272 plate appearances. I’m a big Taylor Trammell believer. I think he’s a top 25 prospect in all of baseball. But he’s not the example people should be talking about as to the Reds promote guys slow.

      The only guy you can reasonably talk about is Nick Senzel. And, well, unfortunately he got injured and before that he was blocked by two All-Stars at the two positions that he played. I think had he not gotten injured he would have been in the big leagues in 2018. But he did get hurt.

      When the Cincinnati Reds have had guys who were the combination of both very talented, and dominating from a numbers standpoint, they’ve been very aggressive with them. They’ve really only had three guys like that in the last decade plus: Jay Bruce, who at 20-years-old jumped from Advanced-A, to Double-A, to Triple-A in one season, and was in the Majors early the following season just after his 21st birthday, Tony Cingrani who reached the Majors in just over a year after being drafted, and Nick Senzel – who I talked about above.

      When it comes to promoting guys, the Reds are pretty much like the majority of teams. The Braves are known to promote fast. The Twins are known to promote slow. Most everyone else seems to be on a similar timeline. When you’ve got that elite talent and those elite numbers, they all tend to act the same. The problem is, those guys are very rare. One specific organization doesn’t just churn those guys out. You see them throughout the Majors, but there are 30 teams, too.

      I don’t think Finol will be in Dayton next year. I expect he’ll be back in extended spring, then go to Billings. Finol was intriguing to me. I wrote about his season, and some scouting report stuff here:

      • lwblogger2

        I’d add Mike Leake to the list of fast promotions. He was drafted and went straight to MLB.

  13. MichaelA

    From all you have seen and heard, do you believe (or % chance) Jose Siri makes the final adjustments that take him to the next level?

    What do you think is a realistic hitting line for Mike Siani?

    • Doug Gray

      I think there’s a decent chance that eventually we’ll see Jose Siri take that next step. He’s come a really long way in the last two years. Still work to be done, but he’s been able to really make adjustments on stuff he used to be helpless against.

      With Siani, I’d like to see him a little bit more. I believe in the hit more than the power. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day he reached double digit homers, but I’m not expecting 15+ in the future. We’ll see if that changes, but that’s where I’m at right now.

  14. jreis

    Doug. I am a big fan of Jose Siri. He looks confident out in center every time I watch. I say we hold our nose and play Billy in center this year and then let Jose take over the position in 2020? what do you think?

    • Doug Gray

      I think they should either trade or non-tender Billy Hamilton for 2019, regardless of Jose Siri. I think you can get value on par with Hamilton for less than what he’s earning. Send Siri back to Double-A and see what happens. Same for Trammell – go to Double-A, and see what happens. And, of course, see what Nick Senzel can do in CF, too.

  15. David

    After 8 pm on Wednesday, but wonder if Gabrielle Guerrero has a place in the Reds outfield in 2019? He barely got a chance to play in Cincy after having what appeared to be a decent year in AAA ball.

  16. TomN

    Doug, I know I’m too late but maybe you’ll see this and answer it eventually. One player that NEVER gets mentioned is TJ Friedl. I guess I’m a fan. I know he’s a smaller guy but he strikes me as a player. But I get the feeling from the lack of chatter, that he’s not in the Reds future. What are your thoughts about him? Trade fodder? Possible 4th OF? Just seems to me the guy can hit. What are the rest of his tools like?