The Cincinnati Reds announced today that they have invited 18 minor league players to Goodyear, Arizona for spring training. However, these 18 players will not be a part of “big league camp”, as these are not non-roster invites. What this seems to be is basically the players that will be in “early minor league spring training” – or basically, Triple-A spring training.

In a normal year big league spring training will begin around the middle of the third week of February. Minor League spring training will then start around the end of the first week of March and there are about 200 players in total at the facility between the big leagues and minor leagues. But this year spring training isn’t normal and teams are going to be having two different stages of spring training. This season the big leaguers and the “Triple-A” guys will be having spring training simultaneously in February/March. Once they are completed and go to their home cities (it’s not entirely clear where the “Triple-A” guys will go – whether it’s their home city or an alternate site until the regular season in the minors begins), then the players competing for spots in Low-A, High-A, and Double-A will head out to Goodyear for minor league camp with the hopes of a regular season beginning the first week of May (minor league schedules are not out yet, but expected to come out soon).

Among the 18 players that the Cincinnati Reds invited out for this early minor league camp are five of their Top 25 prospects (several other top 25 prospects will be in big league camp as they are on the 40-man roster). The organization’s top two prospects – Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo – were among the early invites. Jonathan India, who is the teams #7 prospect, TJ Friedl (#11 prospect), and Lyon Richardson (#16 prospect) join them among the invites.

It’s a bit surprising that the first four of those players aren’t going to be non-roster invites to big league camp. In a normal year they may have been given those opportunities, but with limitations due to COVID-19 on how teams can operate with the number of players/people, guys who may not truly be competing for a roster spot in the big leagues could be in minor league camp and just brought up for some game action during big league spring training on days when they are needed and or the coaching staff wants to get a look.

Jonathan India was one of the prospects from the alternate training site at Prasco Park last season who really seemed to take a step forward and was impressive. With half of a season under his belt in Double-A in 2019 and an ability to play multiple positions, he’s probably the position player among the group that is most surprising that didn’t get a big league invite.

Here’s the entire list of 18 players that are being brought in:

Pitchers B T Age 2020 Club
Graham Ashcraft L R 23 Greeneville
Brandon Finnegan L L 27 Alternate Site
Hunter Greene R R 21 Daytona
Ryan Lillie R R 24 Daytona
Nick Lodolo L L 23 Alternate Site
Dauri Moreta R R 24 Louisville
Matt Pidich R R 26 Dayton
Lyon Richardson S R 21 Alternate Site
Reiver Sanmartin L L 24 Louisville
Catchers B T Age 2020 Club
Mark Kolozsvary R R 25 Alternate Site
Chris Okey R R 26 Louisville
Chuckie Robinson R R 26 Alternate Site
Infielders B T Age 2020 Club
Jonathan India R R 24 Alternate Site
Alejo Lopez S R 24 Louisville
Errol Robinson R R 26 Oklahoma City
Alfredo Rodriguez R R 26 Alternate Site
Outfielders B T Age 2020 Club
Narciso Crook R R 25 Louisville
TJ Friedl L L 25 Louisville

Outfielder Narciso Crook spent his offseason playing for Licey in the Dominican Winter League. He played in 14 games and capped off the regular season with a 3-homer game. Crook has experience playing all three outfield spots, though he’s more of a corner outfielder than center fielder. TJ Friedl last played in July of 2019 – when his season was cut short with an ankle injury that required surgery. A good defender in center, he’s also got speed on the bases, and good eye at the plate.

Among the pitchers, Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo stick out from the list as the top two prospects in the organization. Both players were at the alternate training site last year. Greene was coming back from Tommy John surgery, but got back to his triple-digit velocity at the top end, touching 102 MPH, and working on improving and adding to his secondary pitches – he added a cutter to go along with his slider and change up. Lodolo, who only threw 18.1 innings in 2019 (2.45 ERA, no walks, 30 strikeouts), spent last spring with the Reds in big league camp and then at Prasco Park. The lefty made strides with his change up this past summer at Prasco, which had been the biggest area of weakness in his repertoire.

There are some interesting arms beyond the Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo group, too. Dauri Moreta is a reliever who last pitched in 2019 with the High-A Daytona Tortugas and then in the Arizona Fall League with Glendale. In his 68.0 combined innings between those two stops he allowed 54 hits, 7 home runs, walked just 12 batters, and struck out 73 to go along with an ERA of 2.65. His fastball works in the 93-95 MPH range and will touch a little bit higher and he’ll mix in an above-average slider, as well as an occasional change up.

Graham Ashcraft has less professional experience than anyone on this list – he’s thrown more professional innings than Nick Lodolo, but only because Lodolo’s time last year at Prasco Park isn’t accounted for. He was a 2019 draft pick and threw just over 50 innings in his debut season for the now defunct Greeneville Reds. There’s a lot to like with Ashcraft, who has three potentially above-average pitches with his fastball that works in the mid 90’s, a potentially above-average slider, and a potentially above-average curveball. He also throws a change up that is a little below-average. The 6th round pick posted a 4.53 ERA for Greeneville in 2019, but that misses out on how good he was in 12 of his 13 starts. He had what I refer to as a “Bronson Arroyo” on July 2nd when he allowed 10 earned runs in 2.0 innings. That one outing distorted his ERA for the rest of the 12 starts he had on the season, which was 2.96. In his debut he also posted a ground ball rate of 55%, which was the third highest in the farm system behind Tejay Antone and Luis Mey.

Most of the players on this list will likely head to Triple-A when the year begins, along with many of the players who don’t make the Reds out of spring training. Some of them, though, will probably stick around in Goodyear for the lower level minor league camp and then join one of those teams for their regular season.

27 Responses

  1. JB

    India will be 28 or 29 when Moustakas and Suarez’s contracts with options are up. He is blocked by them both and if he does well at AAA the trade deadline could get interesting.

    • 2020ball

      I feel like the Reds have been using India as a trade chip for a few years now, but no one’s really bought into him yet. Prime for a breakout right now…if it happens. Here’s to hoping he does.

    • Gonzo Reds

      I’ve been saying all along that India can hit he just isn’t a SS. Glad he’s been flying under the radar and not been part of a trade package so far.

  2. MK

    Ashcroft is kind of a surprising choice as his poor ERA at Greeneville was better than any of his seasons in college. He would appear to be a “project” but not necessarily atop prospect.

  3. frank D unger

    Did you guys realize that the reds have 4 players in mlb top 100, but the sad news is that three others on the current list were those allowed to get away: Jeter Downs, Josiah Gray, and Taylor Trammel. That would give the redlegs an outstanding 7 of 100 on the list. The question is- would Downs and Gray have been refined to this level if still toiling in the Reds organization? It is not a matter of drafting talent but cultivating what has been drafted?

  4. KDJ

    Will Hunter Greene get a shot at shortstop?

  5. Steve

    Lol, love that thought, I totally forgot he was a shortstop. We are officially starting the “hunter at shortsrop campaign”

    • Frankie Tomatoes

      I will get the billboards and posters printed up. We need some volunteers to glue the posters up around town. Any takes?

  6. Rednat

    Another head scratching move by the Reds and one that frustrates me to no end. Hunter Greene is the most athletic player the Reds have Drafted since Eric Davis and the Reds want to develop him as a starting pitcher????Plus he has a dynamic personality and people want to come see this guy play so you would like to have him in the starting line up everyday. they gave him what like 4 or 5 games at ss in rookie ball and decided that was enough? it makes no sense to me

    • Doug Gray

      He’s never once played in the field as a pro. He was allowed to DH for like a week.

      Every single scout in existence thought he was a better pitcher than shortstop. Not the Reds scouts. Every scout.

      • MuddyCleats

        Agree Doug, but considering it’s the Reds and they have a hard time drafting and developing talent and drawing fans, maybe Reds could think outside the box w/ this player? Can he be a SP pitcher, or is he likely to go the way of Chapman and Iglesias and eventually be a closer?

      • Doug Gray

        There is no reason at all to believe that Hunter Greene can’t or won’t be a starting pitcher.

      • MuddyCleats

        Yes, but Reds said the same thing about Scott Williamson, Chapman and Iglesias to name a few. Granted his motion looks very fluid – easy gas, but guys who throw that hard also have a tendency to break down. I hope he does start – Reds need a number one. Time will tell.

      • Doug Gray

        I can’t comment much on Williamson, that was before my time, but it was also over 20 years ago so how they handled him matters none because no one is still around from that era.

        Iglesias’ arm couldn’t handle it. Chapman…. well, Ryan Madsen. End of the day, though – you’re right, time will tell. But right now, the Reds have been on-board for the starter role through and through.

  7. Iggy Pop Flies

    I personally think they give India a shot at SS in camp. What do they have to lose?

    • Mark Moore

      Well, one thing that could be lost is some level of confidence since he’s never played SS at the pro level (not sure he even did in college). Yanking young guys around like that because of a “maybe” hurts their development.

      Todd Frazier was a SS for Toms River … but I never saw him play there at AA in 2007 (Carolina Mudcats). Cozart had that position. I do recall Todd being in LF, but that’s a far cry from SS in my book.

      • DaveCT

        Young players more often than not do best when given clear roles and adequate preparation. Its hard enough to make the jump to the ML’s to begin with. See above Senzel.

  8. MBS

    Doug, I know your not a big fan of Rodriguez, but do you know how he compares to Holder? From what I’ve understood is Rodriguez has been our best in organization defender at SS. Is that still the case?

    • Doug Gray

      No, and it hasn’t been the case for a while now. Rodriguez is a solid, but not outstanding defensive shortstop.

  9. DaveCT

    I don’t think I’ve ever been less excited for spring training than this year.

    • TR

      The Opening Day lineup at shortstop, centerfield and the makeup of the bullpen will keep me interested as the spring games begin.

  10. Jimbo44CN

    Greatly looking forward to Spring Training, as I do every year. Hope springs eternal. Let’s hope for a good season uninterrupted by Covid.

    • JB

      I thought the Reds could win the division when Feldman and Adleman were starting so once spring g training starts this team can win it all. Anybody can win it all so why not the Reds. I mean come on who thought the Marlins would have made the playoffs last year?

  11. Old Big Ed

    I predict that the Reds trade a generic minor leaguer to the Dodgers for Chris Taylor, to play shortstop for 2021. The Dodgers need to get under some luxury tax thresholds and he is a logical choice, and will be a free agent after the year.

    Taylor’s a RH hitter, which the lineup needs, and he had an OPS+ from 2020 to 2017 of 120, 108, 110, and 123. He strikes out too much, so he will fit right in. He also has some positional flexibility.

    • JB

      Dodgers need more help than just trading Taylor to get under the threshold tax. They are in over their heads. They will pay the 16-17 million penalty and the drop 10 spots in a draft pick to win it all. That money is nothing to the Dodgers and that pick would go from what 30 to 40? Peanuts to them.

      • Old Big Ed

        Maybe, but they could get under the 42.5% tax threshold of $250 million by trading Taylor to the Reds. By keeping him, the Dodgers would effectively be paying somewhere near $11 million for a utility slot, plus they would give themselves more elbow room at the trade deadline. Further, there are additional penalties in future years for luxury tax purposes, for repeat offenders, although that is certainly an issue for collective bargaining.

        The Dodgers, in other words, could save about $10 million by ridding themselves of Taylor, all of which would go to the bottom line. I actually could see them trying to palm off David Price on some other team, too, but the Dodgers would have to pay a big chunk of his salary.