In this ongoing series that will last most of spring training, we’re going to look at each player that will be in Major League camp with the Cincinnati Reds. Each post will have some information on the player. There will be some background information, profiling, projections, and more. To see all of the posts in the series, you can click here. Today we are going to look at infielder Derek Dietrich.
Derek Dietrich’s Background
Acquired: 2nd round draft pick, 2010 (Tampa Bay). Signed with the Cincinnati Reds as a free agent in February to a minor league contract.
Born: July 18, 1989
Height/Weight: 6′ 0″ / 205 lbs
Years of MLB Experience: Six
Derek Dietrich was drafted out of high school in the 3rd round by the Houston Astros in 2007 but opted to go to Georgia Tech. Three years later he was taken in the 2nd round by Tampa Bay. He played with them in their farm system from 2010-2012, but was traded in the offseason before 2013 to Miami for Yunel Escobar. He reached the Major Leagues that season with the Marlins and played with them through 2018.
Derek Dietrich’s 2018 Season
The season in 2018 was interesting for Derek Dietrich. He got out to a rough start, hitting .241/.285/.362 in the first 28 games – through the end of April. He then tore the National League apart for the next two months. From the start of May through the end of June he hit .327/.394/.548 while playing in the cavernous park in Miami. But he really struggled the rest of the season, posting an OPS of .667, .666, and .621 in July, August and September. Much like his inconsistent month-to-month production, he also showed big home/road splits. At home he posted a .643 OPS. On the road it was .859. The totality of the season saw him hit .265/.330/.421, good for an OPS+ of 112. One other note is that he spent a lot of time playing left field in 2018 – far more than he had ever played before.
Derek Dietrich’s Playing History
After being drafted he was sent to Hudson Valley as a 20-year-old where he was solid, but unspectacular. The next year, 2011, he stepped up for Bowling Green – hitting for big power. He had 34 doubles, four triples, and 22 home runs that season. The next year he split his time between Advanced-a and Double-A. The power took a step back a bit, but he cut down on his strikeouts that season, too. He was traded to Miami in the offseason.
The next year he began the season in Double-A and hit .282/.408/.505 in the first month of the season and was then promoted to the Major Leagues. He stayed there for the next two months, playing in 56 games. He had some struggles, posting a .275 on-base percentage, but showed off good power. He returned to the minors in late July and didn’t return to the Majors that season. In 2014 he made the Marlins out of spring training and spent most of the season there, with a short exception of rehab after an injury and a few weeks in Triple-A that followed. In 2015 he split the year between Miami and Triple-A New Orleans – posting an OPS over .800 at both stops. From 2016-2018 he’s played full seasons, sans a short rehab stint in Double-A in 2016.
Projecting Derek Dietrich for 2019
Derek Dietrich has been an above-average hitter in each of the last four seasons at the Major League level, posting an OPS+ between 106 and 122 in each of those seasons for Miami. ZiPS thinks there’s going to be improvement, but the other two systems see a step backwards for Dietrich in 2019.
How could Derek Dietrich fit in Cincinnati in 2019?
Signed to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, Derek Dietrich doesn’t have a spot locked up. At least on paper. But it appears that everyone and their mother (even yours!) thinks he’s a lock to make the roster. And why wouldn’t he? He’s been an above-average hitter for the last four Major League seasons and he’s capable of playing multiple positions on the field. There isn’t a spot for him in the starting lineup, currently, but he seems to fit in extremely well as a utility/bench option and should be there all season.
Photo Credit: Corn Farmer/Flickr.com. Licensing for the photo can be found here.