The Cincinnati Reds entered spring training with a rather large group of players auditioning for the starting shortstop gig. That crew included Kyle Farmer, Kyle Holder, Jose Garcia, Alex Blandino, and perhaps Dee Strange-Gordon. The big league coaching staff has not seen much of any of these guys play shortstop. Jose Garcia and Kyle Holder have spent much of their career at the position, but Garcia’s time in the big leagues represents all of their time at the level as a shortstop. Blandino, Farmer, and Strange-Gordon have some, but very limited experience at shortstop in the big leagues over the last few years. There’s only so many games to go around, and David Bell expects to trim down some of the options shortly to maximize the looks for those who will remain in the competition as starters.

“We’re not at that point yet (of trimming down the options), but yeah, I think in the next week,” said Bell on Monday afternoon. “I think it’ll be a necessity because of the amount of innings we have to work with to get everyone ready. Not that any decisions will be made – I think it would be wise to not rush that decision, but at the same time we do need to prioritize the playing time over the next week.”

Beginning next week it will be interesting to see how things start going when it comes to the names written in the lineup with the word shortstop next to it. Opening Day is three weeks and two days away. Even another week feels like it may be too much time to keep guys getting regular repetitions there who aren’t going to be the guy. Outside of Garcia and Holder, none of these guys are regular shortstops in the recent past. Whoever is going to be the shortstop, if it’s not going to be one of those two guys (and it certainly could be), they are going to need as much time there before the season begins as they can get.

Tejay Antone and Jeff Hoffman look strong on Monday

The Cincinnati Reds also have a big group of pitchers that are trying to win a spot in the rotation. With two spots seemingly up for grabs, the competition has been fierce early on. On Monday Tejay Antone got the start and was followed by Jeff Hoffman – both pitchers trying to land in the rotation. Antone allowed two hits in 3.0 innings with no walks and he struck out three batters. Hoffman, who struggled a bit his first time out, rebounded well on the afternoon. He tossed 3.0 shutout innings while giving up three hits, walking no one, and striking out four batters.

38 Responses

  1. Iggy Pop Flies

    Bell needs to get the idea of Antone in the bullpen out of his head!

    • JayTheRed

      I’m with you if Antone is in the bullpen I will be highly disappointed in team managment.

  2. Stock

    I think ARod should be added to your list of SS. He is leading the team in hits and total bases thus far. They are playing him all over, almost as if they are planning to take him north with the club.

    • MBS

      I’m a fan of ARod, if he makes it I think it will be as the backup SS. Personally I’d start him over the other options, but I’m not the Manager.

    • greenmtred

      Spring training, though. Am I wrong in my recollection that Garcia hit well in ST last year?

  3. Matt WI

    Brantley and Tommy were super impressed w/ Antone today. Couldn’t say enough about him.

  4. Hotto4Votton

    Looking to the future, I would think it wise if the Reds believe Antone’s future is in the rotation to go ahead and put him in the rotation this season. Let him build up innings and continue to gain the experience of facing the lineup 2-3 times. I would do this even if they believed Lorenzen is the better option as he’s a FA next season. He has plenty of MLB bullpen experience and has done well in that role. He might not be here next season. Go ahead and put Antone in the role you envision for him.

    Side note: I was looking at Mark Sheldon’s guess at the OD roster just now. Some interesting picks. Among them he had Strange-Gordon and Schrock on the roster as INF over Blandino/Holder. With Blandino out of options and Holder a Rule 5, I’m usually of the opinion keep as many guys around as possible since the other guys can start in the minors. Although, I have been impressed with how Schrock looked in the two games I saw him last week. Looking at his stats, not much pop, but only 26.

    • Doug Gray

      Blandino isn’t out of options.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Oh yeah, my bad on that. I still like him for making the roster, but that does change the the math a bit.

      • Aaron B.

        I say we roll with Blandino. He has never had a legit shot and he never will again and he knows it. Let’s see what he can do sink or swim they can re-assess in June towards the deadline. We know the Blandino kid is smart where did he go Yale or Harvard or Stanford something like that? I was impressed with what little I saw of him a couple seasons ago.

      • Matt O'Neal

        Aaron B, you just gave me flashbacks back to Redsminorleagues, with a daily commenter of FORMER STANFORD CARDINAL ALEX BLANDINO, and then what he did in that last night’s game.

      • Doug Newark

        Kyle Holder is one of the best shortstops in all of baseball.
        Kyle has hit about .250 in five spring training seasons. Given the opportunity to play every day and improve would make the Reds solid at shortstop for years to come.

  5. BZ

    Can we just fast forward to naming Kyle Farmer the SS? This is what the organization decided months ago. Lets just get him some reps and let the other teams pitching staffs salivate over the possibility of facing the Reds. Even when the 1-6 guys return to normal hitting wise, you only have to pitch to the first 5 and then pitch around Winker to face the weakest 7-9 in baseball.

    • Aaron B.

      I disagree. I think Blandino is the guy they wanted to give the opportunity to, despite missing last season due to Covid. He must be hungry and he must have more upside than Farmer who best traits are his versatility. I think Blandino can be a respectable big league shortstop given the opportunity and I think that is what management is thinking.

    • HOTTO4VOTTO

      I agree with you that the Reds already have decided Farmer is their SS. I disagree with you that the Red’s 7-9 is the worst in baseball. It’s not even the worst in the NL Central. Have you seen the Pirates line up? The Reds failed miserably at acquiring a SS this winter, but the focus should have been on finding another starting Pitcher.

      Kyle Farmer or whoever else the Reds pencil in at SS will fare no worse than Freddy Galvis. The Reds made the playoffs last year with basically the same offense . They were able to willsnag a WC spit due to their pitching.

      It’s hard to imagine the Reds making the playoffs last year without Bauer.

      Replacing Bauer should have been the focus of the off season not finding a SS. The Reds of course ran the table by doing neither.

      • Aaron B.

        Your not making any sense. They drafted a pitcher in the first round last year that is near major league ready. They have Hunter Greene hitting 103 and they have Lorenzen who is better than any 5th starter around the league. The starting pitching is still a strength. This is a team that struggled all season long to score runs and string hits. They need offense. It’s really that simple.

      • doofus

        I believe that they drafted an outfielder named Austin Hendricks in the 1st round last year (2020).

      • BZ

        Freddy Galvis played a decent SS and was capable of hitting 20+ HRs. As bad as we all thought he was, no one currently on the roster is capable of that. Galvis struggled big time last year just like a lot of people did around baseball…that doesn’t mean below average minor leaguers are on his level.

        As far as replacing Bauer, that was never going to happen. Heck, a year ago at this time Bauer wasn’t even Bauer yet and people had playoff aspirations. The Reds have two top of the rotation type of guys and very solid options for 3-5.

        As far as the Pirates, I’m not positive Stallings and Gonzalez are worse options at 7-8. The Reds obviously have a better 1-6 but after that I think the Pirates may be better off offensively.

  6. Adam

    For some reason Antone reminds me of Arrieta.

  7. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Bottom line, there’s no prime player to go with. And, we can’t necessarily go with “SS by committee” since we can’t just carry them all.

    If we look at what our “general team needs were”, hitting, getting on base, etc.:

    – Holder hasn’t hit but has been helped by BB
    – Gordon and Blandino has hit well.
    – AR has hit well, also, but no BB with 4 K’s

    What I believe it may come down to is a platoon until one shows up. For instance, Gordon is a left handed bat, Blandino a right handed bat.

    As far as playing time as SS:

    – Farmer doesn’t have much time at SS in his career
    – Most of Holder’s time has been at SS
    – Most of Blandino’s time has actually been at SS
    – Most of AR’s time has been at SS
    – A lot of Gordon’s time has been at SS

    I can’t help thinking I see a platoon, actually. Unless we do something like move Suarez over, I see a lefty and righty bat, each being able to play multiple positions, but some substantial time at SS. I see Blandino and Gordon coming out.

    Though I could see the Reds going with any one of Holder, Gordon, Blandino, and AR.

    • doofus

      “– Farmer doesn’t have much time at SS in his career
      – Most of Holder’s time has been at SS
      – Most of Blandino’s time has actually been at SS
      – Most of AR’s time has been at SS
      – A lot of Gordon’s time has been at SS”

      Sounds like Dr. Frankenstein is needed?

  8. CFD3000

    I’m resigned to Farmer getting the bulk of starts at SS, but would prefer to see Blandino get that chance. Garcia is likely the shortstop of the future, but of those under consideration for 2021 I like Blandino’s all around game best. He looks capable if not spectacular with the glove, should get on base regularly and has a little pop – expect a lot of doubles with some HR as well, and appears to have a high baseball IQ (NOT the same as “grit”). He’s a first round pick who’s never had a shot to show he belongs in the show. I think he does.

  9. Jim Delaney

    Have to hope Reds front office is still talking to teams to see if there is a better SS
    option than going with current players in camp.
    The NL Central is on paper one of the weakest divisions to start the season in a very long time. 4 teams have numerous holes and the Pirates are in total rebuild mold.
    Shame that Castellini and Reds ownership group are in cost cutting mode instead of trying to win a division. If they were in NL East or NL West i can understand the
    current approach but not in NL Central.

  10. Roger Garrett

    Shortstop is normally a defense first position so I would think they would look at the two guys that actually play the position before considering anybody else.They won’t and I see Farmer starting with Blandino and Gordon also making the team.Its worth mentioning again that Farmer is very versatile so he make the team anyway.

  11. Shawn

    I hoped that Holder would show enough this spring for us to keep him on the 26 man roster. He hasn’t so far. Gordon hasn’t played SS for years and can’t hit, no way he should make the opening day rosters. Right now I would go with Blandino and Farmer at the SS position but I think A Rod should be given a bunch ABs the rest of this spring. He don’t have to start at SS in these games. The Reds know he can field. Just give him ABs so we can see if he has improved his hitting enough to be a real option.

  12. Tomn

    Maybe Farmer lacks a bit of range but I think he has a very good glove, a very good arm and he’s hitting well and with some power. I really think he’s under-rated and, except for Story, there’s no one really worth going after on the market. ANd Story is a free agent after this year. Right?

    I like Blandino but I don’t think he hits as well as Farmer. I see India as a utility player who can play anywhere in the infield or OF with the exception of CF. And I hope he makes the team and get lots of ABs. He’s looking like he’s ready.

    • VaRedsFan

      You are correct. Farmer made all the routine plays and turned in several great ones. His glove won’t hurt you at all. Not crazy about Blandino either. takes a boatload of called 3rd strikes.

    • 2020ball

      If y’all expect any offense out of Farmer, I think you’ll be unpleasantly surprised. His versatility is nice, but I’m not sure even a guy like Blandino isn’t a better option. I think Farmer’s spot is safe on the roster, but I don’t think it should be. I’d personally rather see a guy like India in his spot. I’m anticipating seeing Strange-Gordon at SS a lot, but don’t really think his bat will play much either.

  13. MBS

    C: Stephenson, OF: Shogo, SS/U: (?), OF/U: (?)

    I doubt there will be a 5th position player coming out of spring training. The rules this year do not limit a team to 13 pitchers. I am assuming the Reds will add an extra arm.

    So that leaves 3 spots available. 2 positions on the bench up for grabs, and 1 (SS) in the field up for grabs.

    (Gordon, Farmer, Blandino, Holder, Rodriguez, Schrock, Aquino, Heineman, Naquin)

    I’d go Gordon, Rodriguez, Heineman, with the caveat that Aquino does indeed still have an option.

    • BZ

      I’m not sure I see a way that Farmer is not on the team. Even if he loses the SS battle, Bell will be enamored with his ability to play almost every position while being available as the third catcher, if needed. I don’t think they will add an extra arm right away so I think 4 open spots. My guess would be Farmer, Gordon, Schrock, Heineman.

      • MBS

        I don’t disagree with you, I think Farmer makes the club. I’m saying if I were picking the 26 man, this is the way I’d go. I would let Farmer play SS at the alternate site. I’m not convinced he’s a MLB SS, but I do like him in the role he had played for us as a super utility. Making him a SS takes away what’s special about him.

  14. amdg

    Unfortunately, outside of Garcia, all of the candidates are in their upper 20’s or older, and swing a comparably dead bat

    In 2019
    Holder was 25 in AA hitting 0.265
    Alf Rod was 25 in AA/AAA hitting 0.267
    Blando was 26 in AAA hitting 0.247
    Farmer was 28 in MLB hitting 0.230
    Go-Strange was 31 in MLB hitting 0.275

    In 2020
    Holder, Alf Rod, and Blando were all N/A
    Farmer was 29 in MLB hitting 0.266
    Go-Strange was 32 in MLB hitting 0.200

    Looking ahead to 2021, that whole group is likely going to hit in the 0.220~0.250 range, with Holder, Alf Rod and Blandino at the bottom of that range, Farmer in the middle, and Strange at the top.

    With everybody in that group being equally uninspiring, why not throw Garcia on the field?

    It gives them the best defense of the group, and if I’m going to have a shortstop hitting below 0.250, it might as well be the one who provides the best defense – especially if it’s also providing experience for the one candidate who has actual upside.

    • Jimbo44CN

      You might have a point there. Everyone is leaving him out of the equation, but maybe it’s best just to go with him and see how he does. He certainly looks more filled out than last year.

    • Roger Garrett

      Count me in but have you forgot about his service time and if he can’t cut it he may lose some confidence?Yeah I am being sarcastic because I am with you but I just wanted to beat others to the punch.In all seriousness though the organization is still stuck in the Lets just see if we can win a few more then the year before mode.Any time they get close to 500 they start the playoff cry even when most of us know it will never happen.Lost is the fact some of us would rather watch the younger players such as Garcia,India and Stephensen then watch the same guys doing the same things even if they do lose a few more.The absolute best thing for this organization going forward is to hope we stink early and the Cards start out hot and we are down 10 games early.Then maybe just maybe we can start to see some younger players and maybe just maybe we can trade a couple of our guys that actually have some value and build for 2023 and beyond.I can dream at least.

  15. shawn s sexton

    the reds will not field the best team they can with the best players they have. they will field a team of players with no minor league options remaining. ability and spring training mean absolutely nothing to this team. they always load the roster with out of options players and send more talented players back to the minors. this is the formula this team uses every year and how you can easily predict the roster. for example, they would rather lose games with wade Miley (no options) than replace him with a more talented pitcher who can win (take your pick of several better pitchers that have options). Blandano and A-Rod tearing it up in the Spring offensively and defensively wont earn them the SS position. They have options. Here is an option for the Reds – put the best players on the roster. you are allowed to do that,

  16. TR

    The hot hand offensively will occupy shortstop this season. Jose Garcia needs this year to mature offensively. He’s the shortstop of the future beginning in 2022.