Fangraphs is the latest national publication to released their Top 100 prospect list, doing so on Wednesday morning. Eric Longenhagen seems to be a little bit higher on the Cincinnati Reds prospects than some of the other national publications. Fangraphs lead prospect writer included four players from the Reds organization in the Top 100, led by Tyler Stephenson. The Cincinnati catching prospect came in at #73 on the list after posting a 131 OPS+ for Double-A Chattanooga last season. Not much further down the list was right-handed pitcher Hunter Greene, who missed all of the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in early April. He came in as the 77th overall prospect in baseball.
Two prospects was the best that the organization had done in any of the other publications – Baseball America had two Reds, MLB Pipeline had two Reds, and the Baseball Prospectus list had just one Red. But the Fangraphs list had two more Reds to come. Shortstop Jose Garcia was next up for Cincinnati, coming in at #82 on the list after leading the Florida State League in doubles despite missing nearly all of April. Rounding out the list for the Reds was 2019 1st round pick Nick Lodolo, who came in at #92 overall. All he did was strike out 30 batters without walking anyone in 18.1 innings after being drafted this year.
Both Baseball America and MiLB.com have rated the Cincinnati Reds farm system as the #28 system in all of baseball. That feels a bit light given that at least Fangraphs views the Reds as having four Top 100 prospects, and Baseball America had Jonathan India as one of the first prospects that missed their Top 100. The farm system is notably down from where it was as recently as 13 months ago when it still had Nick Senzel, Taylor Trammell, Jeter Downs, Shed Long, and Josiah Gray in it. But 28th in baseball usually doesn’t have five guys that you could argue are Top 100 caliber prospects in it – and that’s where the Reds are currently at right now.
More Reds spring training games on TV
Last week we saw Fox Sports Ohio release their schedule for spring training. They would be broadcasting eight games in the greater Phoenix area, with five of them actually being their broadcasts (they will just be simulcasting three other games from the Reds opponents). Today we get the MLB Network schedule, which will feature more opportunities to watch the Reds play this spring.
For those Reds fans who are out of the Fox Sports Ohio market, there’s some good news in the schedule – you will be able to watch eight games on MLB Network. The bad news is that not a single one of them will be live, or really at any sort of convenient hour to watch – so be ready to set your DVR. Here’s the MLB Network schedule for the games involving the Cincinnati Reds:
For those of you that are in the Cincinnati market and can already watch the previously announced games on Fox Sports Ohio…. well, you get an additional three games added to your lineup, if of course, you also have MLB Network. Here’s what that updated schedule looks like:
MLB sets new rules for the 2020 season
We knew that there were rule changes coming. It’s been no secret that there was going to be a new 26-man roster, a three-batter minimum rule for relievers, and that September rosters would be shrinking. But on Wednesday afternoon they were made official, as well as a few other ones we had heard a little bit about, and one that at least I hadn’t. Let’s take a look at the changes that are coming:
- Three-batter minimum: The Official Baseball Rules have been amended to require the starting or any relief pitcher to pitch to a minimum of three batters, including the batter then at bat (or any substitute batter), until such batters are put out or reach base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire crew chief’s judgment, incapacitates him from further play as a pitcher. The three-batter minimum will become effective in 2020 Spring Training beginning on Thursday, March 12th.
- Rosters Through August 21st and Postseason: Active Roster limits from Opening Day through August 31st and including Postseason games shall be increased from 25 to 26. In addition, Clubs will be permitted to carry a maximum of 13 pitchers from Opening Day through August 31st (plus Postseason games).
- September Rosters: From September 1st through the end of the Championship Season (including any tiebreaker games), all Clubs must carry 28 players on the Active Roster. In addition, Clubs will be permitted to carry a maximum of 14 pitchers during this period.
- Two-way Player Designation: Players who qualify as “Two-Way Players” may appear as pitchers during a game without counting toward a Clubs’ pitcher limitations. A player will qualify as a “Two-Way Player” only if he accrues both: (i) at least 20 Major League innings pitched; and (ii) at least 20 Major League games started (as a position player or designated hitter) with at least three plate appearances in each of those games, in either the current Championship Season or the prior Championship Season (for 2020 only, this will include 2019 as well as 2018). The Club must designate that player as a “Two-Way Player” in advance of that game. Once a Club designates a qualified “Two-Way Player” that designation will remain in effect, and cannot change, for the remainder of that Championship Season and Postseason.
- Position Players Pitching: Any player may appear as a pitcher following the 9th inning of an extra inning game, or in any game in which his team is losing or winning by more than six runs when the player enters as a pitcher.
- Extra Player Rule: The previous “26th player rule” will be replaced with the “27th player rule” for all applicable Championship Season games prior to September 1st. The 27th player shall not count toward any pitcher roster limits described above. Thus, a Club may designate 14 pitchers in games under circumstances where the Major League Rules would permit a 27th Active player.
- Injured list Re-instatements and option period for pitchers: Clubs may not reinstate pitchers or Two-Way Players from the Injured List until 15 days have elapsed from the date of the initial placement for such injury – an increase from 10 days. In addition, the option period for pitchers will be lengthened from 10 days to 15 days.
- Reduction in challenge time: Managers will now have up to 20 seconds to challenge a play instead of 30.
With regards to the two-way player designation, the rules are basically set so that only one player in the last 50 years of Major League Baseball would actually qualify for it: Shohei Ohtani. JJ Cooper of Baseball America used the Baseball-Reference play index to try and find a player who would qualify and it was only Ohtani who could meet the requirements. Thanks baseball.
That doesn’t mean that Michael Lorenzen can’t pitch and play in the field, pinch hit, or be the designated hitter. But it does mean that he can’t be counted as a two-way player, and thus allow Cincinnati to keep an additional pitcher on the roster if they so chose.