September is right around the corner, and for what may be the last time, teams can call up everyone on the 40-man roster. Beginning next year teams will be limited to having a 28-man roster in September.

At least one more time the debate for who will and who won’t be called up could have more than a few names to discuss. Today we’re going to talk about the position players who could potentially be called up in September. But let me preface this by saying that I will only be discussing players on the 40-man roster. The reasoning here is simple: I don’t believe there’s anyone not on the 40-man that the team will be looking to get playing time to this September, so they aren’t going to designate anyone for assignment/release them to create a spot for someone to come up and sit on the bench.

Alex Blandino

Alex Blandino began the 2019 season on the injured list as he recovered from a torn ACL. Eventually he was healthy enough to play and was activated and then optioned to Triple-A Louisville. He didn’t begin playing until June 3rd, just under 11 months after his initial injury against the Pirates last season. He’s hitting .253/.393/.385 in 65 games with the Bats this year. In 2019 when the Triple-A baseball is juiced to the gills, a .778 OPS backed with a .385 slugging percentage doesn’t stick out much.

When we look at his splits, a few things jump out. Let’s first talk about the good: Alex Blandino has beat up on lefties. He’s had 95 plate appearances against them in Triple-A this year and he’s hitting .304/.421/.532 against them with 11 walks and 23 strikeouts. Four of his five home runs on the year have come against lefties, too.

But there’s also some not-so-good in the splits. In 18 games in June he had an .877 OPS. In July that dropped to .813. During August he’s hitting just .232/.321/.319. His walk rate has dropped from 16% in June/July to just 9% in August. That combined with the complete lack of power in the month has him hitting at his worst during the season.

While Alex Blandino does have some position flexibility, he can cover you at third base, second base, and shortstop – the Reds have several other guys who can also do that right now. They are going to have trouble finding playing time around the infield as it is in September with Derek Dietrich, Freddy Galvis, Josh VanMeter, Jose Iglesias, Eugenio Suarez, Kyle Farmer, and Joey Votto all looking for at-bats. Combine that with the struggles at the plate in August and it feels like he is a guy who may not be recalled when rosters expand.

Brian O’Grady

It’s been a back-and-forth month of August for Brian O’Grady. He was added to the 40-man roster and called up earlier this month. Since then has been optioned back to Louisville twice. The 27-year-old went 1-12, almost exclusively as a pinch hitter in his two stints with the Reds.

On the season in Triple-A he’s hitting .277/.358/.554 with 28 doubles, a triple, 27 home runs, and 17 steals in 21 attempts. He’s capable of playing first base, left field, center field, and right field. Like Alex Blandino, there’s some positive and some negative in the numbers.

Starting on the negative side, there’s some swing-and-miss to Brian O’Grady’s game. He’s struck out 28.2% of the time this season in Triple-A. That’s really the only issue in the numbers. At least in Triple-A he hit both lefties and righties. In fact, he had a much higher OPS against lefties, hitting .325/.370/.650 against them in 123 at-bats this season. Against right-handers he hit .255/.353/.511 in 278 at-bats.

For Brian O’Grady I believe that he will wind up being recalled. While he may face some playing time issues because he plays positions that are covered by more than a few others, as a bench player he can provide a little more value thanks to his ability to pinch run, cover center field (and the other spots – but center is the important thing here), and provide some threat of power off of the bench.

Jose Siri

When it comes to tools it’s tough to find someone in the farm system that matches what Jose Siri brings to the table. But tools don’t always translate to skills on a day-to-day basis on the field. Right now there are some clear tools that do for Siri – his speed and his defense. He is arguably the best defensive center fielder in the organization, and he would most certainly be the best defensive outfielder on the big league club. There’s also a chance that Siri would be the fastest player on the big league club if called up. Defense and speed, those things will play and they’ll play right now.

With that said, his bat hasn’t been very good this year. He began the year in Double-A with Chattanooga. While playing in 101 games for the Lookouts he hit .251/.313/.388 with 33 walks and 126 strikeouts. His OPS was a little better than the league average. However, he struck out 31.1% of the time he stepped to the plate and his power was down from where it’s been in the past – even last year when he was also in Double-A. At the start of the month he was promoted to Triple-A. To say it’s been a tough go would be an understatement. Even after going 3-4 last night with a double, triple, and a walk he’s hitting .156/.235/.221 for Louisville in 23 games played.

Right now he seems like a long shot to get called up. His bat simply wouldn’t be used given how he’s hit lately and the other options available. Defensively and on the bases he would be useful right now. But with where the Reds are, they probably don’t need that kind of player on the bench. If they were in a situation of competing, having the threat of his speed on the bench, or as a 9th inning defensive replacement could make more sense. That’s just not where the team is right now, though.

Conclusion

There are only three healthy position players on the 40-man roster who aren’t in the Major Leagues right now. Scott Schebler is also on the 40-man, but he had shoulder surgery and is out for the season. There’s a chance that the Reds could lean more towards a yes on a guy like Alex Blandino and he could join Brian O’Grady in a call up. But it feels like the position player call ups are going to be very limited this year. I could see it being just one guy – O’Grady – joining the Reds when the rosters do expand.

24 Responses

  1. jbonireland

    Jose Siri….Tools!Tools!Tools!, it is really tiring to hear the same thing about Siri all the time. The guy just hasn’t proven he can hit. His K to AB rate is something right around 1 in 3, and his speed wow. Didn’t we just get rid of Mr speed after 5 years of frustration. So are two biggest outfield prospects at the beginning of the year; Trammell who now plays double A for San Diego and a guy “Mr Tools” who struggles to hit .250 and is presently hitting .156 in double A ball.

    • Doug Gray

      Nothing is impossible, I guess. But I’d be surprised. They don’t need a fourth catcher. They’d have to DFA/release someone to add him to basically sit around on the bench. And I guess there’s some value to being on the bench in September, but from the organizational perspective is it worth releasing another player, drastically increasing the pay for Stephenson, accumulating service time for that? I don’t think it’ll happen, but I’ve certainly been wrong before.

      • George

        This is from way out in left field but here goes, Who is in the system that can play 1b next year. Joey is aging before our eyes and his back issues may get worse. Contractually we have 4-5 more years of Joey. My initial thoughts are that there is no one on the 40 man that can be called a real 1st baseman. DD isn’t the future. The following is a totally mind blowing thought, The Reds go get Puig for RF move Aquino to 1B (height) platoon with JOEY against Lh PITCHERS and when he is out injured. I really believe Joey has been hurting for quite a while but playing daily because he feels that with his salary he needs to play every day. Do the Reds have a plan for 1b other than rejects from other teams.

      • Doug Gray

        They’ve been using Josh VanMeter there. And right now with how he’s hitting, he’d be fine at first base. Not elite by any means, but good from an offensive perspective.

        Obviously, you’d rather have him playing second because the profile there is a lot better.

      • DHud

        Aquino might have the best arm in the Reds organization. Don’t waste it at 1B please

  2. Doug Gray

    Yes. The pitchers version of this will be coming later this week.

    As you can tell, this article had quite a bit to it and that was just discussing three players. There are a lot more pitchers to discuss.

  3. RedNat

    I haven’t quite given up on Siri but I am getting close. saw him over the weekend in indy and he looked lost at the plate. I still believe he is a better hitter than BH but maybe not by much. of the 3 listed he is the guy I am most interested in seeing.

  4. David

    Blandino really can’t play short and is not really much of an option at 3rd base.

    He does not have a strong throwing arm

    I am appalled that Brian O’Grady has been up and has gotten so little playing time. I would really think hard about waiving Dietrich. I don’t really see his future with Cincinnati. I know that Cincinnati will NOT waive him, but it would open up a spot on the 40 man.
    Narciso Crook? What happened to Rob Refsnyder?

    • Doug Gray

      The arm is actually what Blandino does have. The range is the issue at shortstop. For a backup option, he can handle short, third, second.

      With O’Grady, I guess the question is: Who are you sitting so he can play more? VanMeter? Aquino? Senzel? Ervin? Winker? Votto? Obviously the latter two aren’t healthy right this second, but that’s why O’Grady came up and didn’t play. The other options were pretty good options.

      Refsnyder was released.

  5. Mason Red

    The Reds need to see who they have at the minor league level but they are still in the auditioning phase with several others who are already on the roster. Finding enough playing time for them all may pose a problem.

  6. Dewey Roberts

    It is part of the losing culture which the Reds organization has worked so hard to build over the last 5-6 years. It is going to take more than a few more good players to turn this thing around. I just hope this once proud franchise can start winning again while I am still alive.

  7. Tom

    The cupboard is bare for the Reds. If two of your best position-player options for a September call-up are Blandino and Siri that does not say much for the talent in the upper levels of the farm system. I see no heir apparent for 1B or SS in the minors. The Reds should play nothing but young players until the end of the season. If they lose a lot, that is o.k. It will improve their draft position. Guys without contracts beyond this year, like Dietrich and Iglesias, should not be taking time from players with a future. Give O’Brady a shot at 1B or LF, especially with Votto and Winker on the DL. Too, they need to give Winker a chance against lefties when he comes back. They should be thinking long-term at catcher too. When the draft rolls around they need a middle of the order impact bat that could be majors-ready in 1 to 2 years. I will go out on a limb too and say that even Suarez could be traded this winter. Sell high on a player who may hit a lot of home runs, but doesn’t drive in a lot of runs, strikes out too much and has been a liability in the field and on the bases.

    • Doug Gray

      You might want to look at Jose Garcia for shortstop.

      First base doesn’t matter. Hate it or not, Joey Votto’s this teams first baseman for the next 3-4 years unless he retires.

      • Doug Gray

        No team in baseball would make the move to bring Garcia up from Advanced-A ball.

      • Bill J

        Doug this may be a useless question but, do you think it would be good for JV and the Reds if he would do an Andrew Luck and retire and give the Reds a reduced rate on the rest of his salary.

    • Dewey Roberts

      Walt Jocketty destroyed the Reds minor league system with his drafting philosophy. I said several years ago that the Reds could not turn around unless they stockpiled position players. Meanwhile, Jocketty was drafting college baseball relievers in hopes of them becoming starters in the majors. How has that worked out?

  8. RedNat

    Doug any updates on TJ Friedl? with Siri struggling and Trammel gone he may be our top outfield prospect now.

    • Doug Gray

      Friedl is out for the year. Ankle surgery. Not the top outfield prospect. Several guys in front of him right now.

      • Jon

        Doug, do you think there is any chance Votto pulls an Andrew Luck and retires before his contract ends? What happens with his money if he does retire.

  9. Centerfield

    I would like to see what O’Grady can do in CF for 3 to 4 games in a row. Ervin has a nice bat, but PLEASE keep him out of CF. Also, DD and JVM look a little out of their element at 1B. They just don’t have the footwork down. This is another spot where O’Grady can get some ABs. I suspect that Van Meter is going to be the super sub in 2020. I don’t agree with it, but I see the mini Legos in Bell’s head lining up that way. If that is indeed the case, Josh needs to have instruction on playing CF and 1B between now and next spring.

  10. SteveO

    Peraza will be brought back up as he was sent down because JV came off the IL.

  11. Doc

    If Votto retires, why does he need to give the Reds some kind of break on salary? If you retire, you don’t get your salary from there on.

  12. ked29

    Any thoughts to bring Mitch Nay up and start prepping him for 1b