Some big news broke this morning for the Cincinnati Reds. First we learned that Spencer Steer was being called up when C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic reported the news. Then we found out via Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer that reliever Fernando Cruz would be joining Steer as the two players that were being promoted as September rosters expanded from 26 to 28 players. To make room for the two players on the 40-man roster the Reds transferred Mike Moustakas and Jeff Hoffman to the 60-day injured list.

Spencer Steer and Fernando Cruz couldn’t be any more different. Steer just joined the organization a month ago when he was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in the Tyler Mahle trade. Cruz signed with the Reds as a minor league free agent before the season began. Steer is a top 100 prospect who has quickly worked his way up through the minors. Cruz was drafted in 2007 as a position player, transitioned into a pitcher in 2011, and has spent several years pitching in non-affiliated baseball – including the 2021 season in the Mexican League.

This season Spencer Steer has seen time in Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul while with the Twins organization, and then Triple-A Louisville while with the Reds organization. Between his three stops this season the 24-year-old has hit .274/.364/.515 with 30 doubles, 2 triples, 23 home runs, 51 walks, and 89 strikeouts in 492 plate appearances. With Louisville since he was acquired at the deadline he’s played in 23 games and hit .294/.375/.467 with 7 doubles and 3 home runs. What’s been interesting to see is that the Reds recently began playing Steer all over the field. For the most part of his career he’s spent time playing second, third, and a little bit of shortstop. But over the last week-and-a-half the Reds have started him in right field, first base, second base, third base, and at shortstop. The start in right field was the first time he’d ever played in the outfield. You can see his career stats here.

As for Fernando Cruz, here’s a part of something I wrote about him over at a little more than two weeks ago:

It’s been a long journey, both in years and in travel for Fernando Cruz when it comes to professional baseball. Drafted in 2007 out of high school in Puerto Rico by the Royals, Cruz was originally a shortstop. He remained one through May of the 2011 season, but he never really developed at the plate, topping out in A-ball where he hit just .221/.263/.267 in 119 games. That’s when the Royals sent him back to their complex and he began to work as a pitcher. He struggled that first year, understandably. He struggled the next year, too, and after the 2012 season he was released. Over the next three winters he pitched in the Puerto Rican Winter League, but that seems to be the extent of his playing baseball – he was not playing anywhere in affiliated or in independent leagues as far as I can tell.

After posting a 1.52 ERA in the winter of 2014/2015, the Chicago Cubs signed him and he pitched for them for a season in the minors before electing free agency. He re-signed with them in the winter, but he was released at the end of spring training and would pitch in the Can-Am Association for New Jersey for the next two seasons before splitting the 2018 season between the Can-Am and Mexican League. In 2019 he only pitched in the winter league. The same held true in 2020. Then in 2021 he pitched in Mexico for both the summer and winter leagues, as well as in Puerto Rico in their winter league before signing with the Reds in February. It was his first chance in affiliated ball since 2015.

It’s just an incredible story to go from not having played affiliated baseball in 7 seasons to signing a minor league deal and then reaching the Major Leagues.

This season Cruz has served as the Bats closer and he’s picked up 23 saves this year while posting a 2.89 ERA in 51 games. In his 56.0 innings pitched he’s given up 39 hits, allowed 4 home runs, walked 19 batters, and he’s struck out 66. You can see his career stats here.

Those are pretty good numbers, but he’s been even better than that for a while now. From June 8th through June 15 he and into some issues. He allowed at least one run in each of his four appearances, giving up six earned runs in 3.0 innings in that span. Since then he’s pitched in 27 games and posted a 1.13 ERA over 32.0 innings with 18 hits allowed, a single home run, walked just nine batters, and he’s struck out 40. Opposing hitters have managed a .161/.232/.223 line against him over that time.

As for his stuff, he’s going to bring a fastball int he 93-95 MPH range that touches higher. He’ll mix in a slider in the mid-80’s as well as a change up in the low 80’s. Cruz throws plenty of strikes, and he’s kept the ball in the ballpark well this season, though his ground ball rate is a little bit below average.

The Reds are off today, so both players are going to have to wait until Friday to officially join the club on the field when the team welcomes the Colorado Rockies to Great American Ball Park.

43 Responses

  1. old-school

    Cruz’s numbers are stellar. There is certainly opportunities in this bullpen.

    It would be interesting to see the Reds internal organizational depth chart at the high minors married to the current MLB roster and where they see Steer/McClain/ELDC/CES/McGarry. Those are 5 guys all potentially ready by the AS break of 2023, if not earlier

    • Kevin H

      Siani and Hopkins as well.. I believe if they are going all in with the rebuild. See what those two can do as well.

      Thoughts OldSchool?

      • old-school

        I don’t know. I’ve not seen these guys play so for now its Steer as the others finish out their year at their current positions. I just hope Steer plays everyday. I know India has had a subpar year at 2b defensively, but his bat is warming up and he is clearly 1A and 1b with Stephenson as the new young core of the Cincinnati Reds. I don’t see anyway ROY moves off 2b. I think Krall has India firmly at the top of the Reds organizational depth chart at 2b now and in the future and that’s why Steer barely played 2b in AAA while Leonardo Rivas, Juniel Querecueto, and Alejo Lopez did.

        If Steer can play an occasional SS and India has 2b, why waste him at 1b? You’ve got CES and McGarry in the pipeline plus Votto presumably another year. Steer exploded this season with his power and is a top 100 MLB prospect.

        .293/.375/.467 with 23 HR and 30 doubles this season at 2 stops.

        That checks a lot of boxes for me and in September of a lost year, he’d be my starting 3b 5 days a week and Dh a day a week. I think the Reds have like 2 double headers in 5 days and play a string of 15 games in 13 days. Let Senzel be the super utility guy at 2b/3b/cf and let Farmer help at SS/3b and 1b. Should be enough games in a condensed schedule to get good some good reps for Steer, Senzel, Barrero, Friedl, Fairchild, Fraley .

        Wlcome to Reds country Spencer!

      • Jim Walker

        OS> You may be correct that India doesn’t move but a number of media types close to the team seem convinced he at least “returns” to 3B (his primary college spot) or eventually ends up as a corner OF.

        It would certainly behoove the Reds to have the guys they see as the likely 2B/SS combo playing together in those roles ASAP, maybe even if that means holding someone back at AAA long than need be for his personal good to accomplish this.

    • Jim Walker

      OS> The big decision is which of those guys becomes CF is the 1st to get a look at CF.

      Kevin> I don’t think we know they are totally all in on rebuilding unless at least 2 of the quartet of Friedl, Fraley, Fairchild, and Senzel are gone over the offseason along with both the AAs. The way Baseball Reference counts, 2023 will be the age 28 season for the 3 NOT named Fairchild and SF’s age 27 season .

      I’d hang onto Fairchild and one of the LH hitters unless better players from outside the organization become available.

      • Kevin H

        Agree and to many injuries as well to see who is here in 2023. I mean most know I am a Senzel fan, however I don’t think he is a outfielder. I would like to see Hopkins and Siani play next season. As you mentioned though you have Fraley, Friedl, Fairchild and AA. So that is 6 outfielders who potentially could be battling. I am going to assume Senzel will be a infielder next season.

        So, we know they won’t but I would let Moose Go. Then Farmer or Solano. As your infield looks to be Steer at 3rd. Barrero at ss, or Cruz India at 2nd and Votto at 1st.

        Then don’t forget about McGarry, Mclain, Straund,(spelling). Are they in the mix next season? So will be a interesting off season

      • LDS

        I’m not sure that I wouldn’t part with Senzel ahead of Friedl. If Aquino and Almora were younger, maybe hold on to them. But they aren’t. Maybe keep Aquino as the 4th or 5th OF for late inning defensiveness, depending on who moves up or is acquired. I’m not as confident in Fairchild as some here are, though I do envy his “Dick Clark” like agelessness. Fraley, very much a platoon player, who shouldn’t be in the game against a LH’er and his fielding metrics aren’t particularly good. So, my view, the OF is a mess and as Jim stated, who gets the look in CF.

      • LDS

        Unless Votto suddenly starts hitting LH’ers, he should be a platoon player and probably then only on DH. Even last year, only 5 of his HRs came against LH’ers, and his OPS was about 300 pts lower. He killed RH’ers and maybe he will again. But the Reds need a contingency going into 2023. Give him his farewell tour, but don’t commit to everyday at 1st base. That’s irresponsible in my view.

      • Jim Walker

        LDS>> I wrote more about Fairchild’s situation over on the game wrap comments for Weds. night.

        He got caught in a very awkward development spot by the COVID situation. He appeared to be ready to take AAA by storm in his age 24 season (2020) after a breakout performance in the Arizona Fall League in 2019. Instead, he ended up at the tail end of the Prasco alternate site roster and the Reds OF depth at that time kept him from moving up.

        If Fairchild had gotten to AAA in 2020 instead of 2021, given he how performed there once he did get to AAA, he likely would have forced his way onto the MLB roster in 2021.

        For me, Senzel has had the time and not established a high enough ceiling to be worth what he will cost next year, even as a “supersub” versus filling the spots with prospects.

      • LDS

        Thanks Jim, I’ll check it out. I agree on Senzel. I’m doubtful he’ll ever achieve his potential – just too many obstacles to overcome. Though I do wonder how he would have fared had he stuck to his natural position and focused on the ML game, instead of being shuffled around.

      • Old-school

        @ Jim. Agree on CF importance but that also means corner OF is separate from CF. Never liked the notion of not having an everyday CF. It’s too important a building block of a core team. Defense up the middle is crucial to a good defensive team and CF is priority #1 in the OF.

        Reds arent going to compete in 2023 so it has to be a transition year to 2024 and for me, that starts now…September 2022. Freidl plays a nice CF , gives you a good at bat and can bunt, run, get on base, hit for xtra bases and I think is a part of a 2024 OF. He could play CF in 2023 and be the 4th OF in 2024.
        Almora is a great defensive Cf but to what purpose does he serve in 2023 if he has none in 2024? He’s the definition of filler with no hit tool.
        Aquino is a RF and people can debate his role in 2023/ 2024.

        Fairchild doesnt profile as a franchise CF on a winning team in 2024. Maybe he platoons with Fraley in 2023 but its worth getting him PT this month.

        Fraley was part of a huge trade and is going to play. He profiles more as a platoon LF and might be part of a 5 man OF in 2024. Reds need lefty bats.

        Senzel has a far more valuable role as a super utility player than a CF. He can play CF/3B/2b and gives you insurance when , not if, 2b/3b/ LF or CF gets injured. Aquino/Fairchild/Almora cant play infield so Senzel’s versatility elevates his importance on a 26 man roster.I disagree he’s expensive. He makes 1.25 mil and wont make more than 2 mil next year.

        Farmer will be on the hook for ~$5mil next year. I think he is the one that’s expensive in a transitioning team reconstructing their roster.

        C Trent spent 5 days watching Chattanooga play and noted scouts said Mike Siani is the best defensive OF in the reds minors and C Trent was very impressed with him defensively.

        Looking forward to watching these young players play instead of reading about them.. I think the reds best CF is playing SS in AA.

    • Doc

      I don’t get to see these guys play, so I can only see what the box score says, supplemented by the occasional comments that might appear. I don’t quite get why everybody thinks McClain is ready soon for MLB.

      He is hitting in the .230s at AA, well below the numbers Barrero or Aquino put up in their best year at AAA, and we see their MLB performance thus far.

    • SteveAreno

      Some of us were telling the coaching staff to bring up Fernando Cruz two months ago when he started making news for leading the minor leagues in SAVES. And that’s for a team that doesn’t have so many wins to SAVE! Imagine if he pitched for Columbus with 73 wins instead of Louisville with 52. The staff sure is hard-headed and they get paid a lot for coming up with our conclusions!

  2. LDS

    The FO actually made a decision that most of us will applaud. Now play him. And get rid of Anderson. There appears to be nothing there. Do the Reds think a guy with a 27.00 ERA and a 3.0 WHIP with 2 losses in 2 games is somehow a game changer?

    • DataDumpster

      Bell must have thought so. The Red’s relief pitching was stellar with 8 scoreless innings. However, he had to use 7 relief pitchers to achieve that result before handing the reins to Anderson in the 13th. Yea, the next day is an off day but I suppose Bell is more concerned about next Sunday or whatever.
      (The very questionable moves on the offense and defense were covered by others extensively already).
      Glad to see Steer get a chance. Time to thin out the ranks on the infield and find that elusive, solid all round outfielder (sorry, Nick).

      • SteveAreno

        Our coaching staff needs to learn a reliever can pitch more than 1.0 innings if they are performing well. Especially middle relievers! Maybe we need to have coaching classes for them. LOL.

    • Luke J

      Well he did lower his ERA yesterday when he only gave up 3 runs in an inning. LOL

  3. Michael B. Green

    CIN potential 2023 OF may consist of:

    Benintendi LF (free agent; from CIN area)
    Friedl CF
    Fraley RF v RHP
    Grossman LF/RF (free agent; primary platoon partner with Fraley)

    The 5th OF spot will be up for grabs among a bunch of minor league invites.

    Siani should start in AAA and will play if Friedl is hurt or falters.

    I doubt Almora, Aquino or Fairchild carryover into 2023 but Fairchild does have options and could fill that 5th OF spot – especially since he can play all 3 spots.

    Wondering if Cerda stays on the 40MR. He’ll have to repeat AA for sure. He strikes out way too much.

    I would imagine that Senzel gets dealt. Steer looks like the UT man of the future if he doesn’t just take over 3B.

    Wonder if CIN could trade Senzel to MIA for Trevor Rogers and let each re-establish themsleves?

    • Gonzo Reds

      I like that last idea of Senzel for Rogers. FA SP won’t sign with Cincy so trade or drafting them the only options. Think Cincy will give up on Senzel way before the Marlins give up on Rogers though.

  4. SultanofSwaff

    In this game of musical chairs, Jose Barrero will seemingly dictate the action. If he hits even a little, his plus defense makes it obvious he doesn’t switch positions or ride the bench. Working on that assumption, I’d use Steer and India at 2b/3b, doesn’t matter who plays where unless Steer is a superior defender. McClain is my utility infielder (would love to see Farmer traded in the offseason and wipe the slate clean). EDLC would be wasting his plus plus speed at SS so he slides to CF. Marte by virtue of being the odd man out as well as his body type moves to RF where his SS arm will play. Encarnacion-Strand will have to bide his time as the Votto farewell tour reaches its conclusion, but he’s the heir apparent to me.

    Oh, and don’t dismiss the idea of Votto bouncing back. In addition to full health, the impending ban on shifting will be a huge boost to his viability.

    • Daytonnati

      I thought Votto was pretty clear last night on the broadcast that he wants to play full-time, still thinks he can, and that he would prefer retiring to being platooned or a DH. But he also contradicted himself with his praise of Pujols and his ability to continue to kill left-handed pitching.

    • JayTheRed

      Problem is Jose B. isn’t hitting much at all still, but if he could hit say .245 I’d be ok with that. and with an on base of around .320 I don’t have much faith he will stick at this point but maybe he’s a late bloomer

      • VegasRed

        Just stop already on the impatience with Barrero! He is just now getting somewhat consistent AB’s in MLB. Yes he has struggled in august but what’s the hurry?

        All players seem to struggle until something clicks. If after a few more hundred consistent AB’s no progress is evident, then next prospect up.

    • Earmbrister

      And this is why you are the sultan! Nicely laid out and it utilizes the considerable depth in the system. I agree that EDLC will be asked to move to the OF where, as you said, his speed and his arm will play nicely. Before Marte was acquired I saw EDLC in RF, but that seems to be the most likely landing spot for Marte. Suddenly, only LF needs to be settled with the two Fs leading the race.

      Barrero will be the everyday starter at SS and will be given plenty of time to determine if he can be the SS of the future. McClain can be given a shot in 2024 if JB falters, with Arroyo knocking on the door in ‘25. It’s nice to have options.

      Collier and E-S are future options at the corners, with a couple of other 1B prospects being closer to MLB.

      Yes, not all of these prospects will pan out, but they seemingly have multiple options at multiple positions. The payroll will allow for FA acquisitions to fill any holes that persist.

      Play the youngsters and sort, sort, sort.

  5. docproc

    If Cruz pitched that well all season for Louisville (2.89 ERA, 23 saves), why didn’t he get a call up before September? Certainly he couldn’t have been much worse than a lot of the guys we ran out of the bullpen this season.

    • greenmtred

      It may have been because they wanted him to work on something in Louisville and/or wanted to fully evaluate the guys in the big league pen. Winning a few more games this year doesn’t make a difference.

  6. Rednat

    Cruz brings up questions I have had for quite some time. Are players form Latin America signed or drafted? are they considered International players? would they be included in an international draft?

    • Jim Walker

      Players from Latin America are signed as free agents. There are rules however regulating the total amount each MLB team can spend in an annual cycle. Yes they would be in an international draft.

      An international draft was one of the hot topics right to the wire in the lockout negotiations this past winter and spring. The two sides eventually agreed to kick the can down the road to the end of this past June or July to get the CBA agreement done and the lockout ended.

      Ahead of the deadline, MLB presented a framework that would have instituted an international draft in return for dropping the qualifying offer/ compensatory draft pick system. But of course, the devil is in the details or so the MLBPA decided and rejected the MLB proposal. So, unless the two sides come together on an international draft proposal through informal conversations (slim chance), there will be no international draft at least until the next CBA is negotiated.

    • Doug Gray

      Players born in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico (unless they are legal citizens of another country and don’t reside in one of those three places) are drafted. Players born elsewhere are international free agents – there is no such thing as an international draft in baseball.

      With that said, things in Mexico, Korea, and Japan *usually* work differently. In those countries they have high end leagues of their own and tend to sign players to their own developmental leagues. There’s no official agreement, but there’s a you don’t do it to us we don’t do it to you kind of thing where MLB teams don’t go sign amateurs in those countries and those teams don’t do the same thing here. In Mexico they can sign players at age 15, while MLB teams can’t sign players until they are 16. So what almost always happens there is if a MLB team wants to sign a player out of Mexico they wind up paying the team that has the rights for the player a big fee as a part of the players signing bonus. Hope that helped some.

  7. Redsvol

    With all the injuries and call-ups lately I thought it would be interesting to look at how many players in total (injured + active) the Reds are paying a major league salary to.

    There are currently 47 players being paid a major league salary (i.e., on the 40 man in either an active or injured state). By comparison, the Cardinals are paying 30 players to be active or MLB-injured list. And this doesn’t even include the minor league players who are on the MILB injured list.

    Difference of 17 players. That is not an insignificant figure – especially with the minimum salary in the new CBA. That amounts to a minimum of $12 million in additional major league salary the Reds are paying that the Cardinals aren’t (if assume the injured players are replaced with minimum salary guys). So the training staff absolutely needs to be reevaluated after this year. This is a gross inefficiency for a small market team to have to cope with. We need more of our top 25-30 players healthy.

    Bob – if you want to go cheap, at least spend some money on player development and health/training so we keep the best players on the field and out of the trainers room!

    • MadMike

      Excellent ideas on improving training and dev facilities! On some level, with the lockout, elevated injuries have to be accepted this year, it just feels like a lot of teams are having problems.

      I just remembered under Krivsky there was a running gag at Red Reporter over how the team used a divining stick to diagnose injuries so…. maybe the problems are systemic as you suggest.

    • Earmbrister

      There is a certain amount of randomness when it comes to injuries. The NYYs have been beset by injuries in recent years and I doubt that they’re skimping with their training room budget.

  8. RedsGettingBetter

    Fernando Cruz makes me remember to Moreta in 2021 season where Moreta had pretty good numbers as reliever all the year although being not called up until september , howewver , Moreta has not been the same after reach the big leagues, at least, this season. Hopefully, Cruz could be consistent at his 32 age, he has no much time left as Moreta has…
    Steer finally reach the major team. Everyone wanted it. Let’s see how much playing time Bell gives him for the rest of the way…

    • Doug Gray

      Moreta’s actually been quite good in the big leagues after he was initially demoted. He was very bad in May in that 4-game stretch he had. 10 earned runs in 2.2 innings – including that 5-run outing where he recorded no outs on May 11th. He returned on June 19th and has pitched in 16 games. In 14 of those games he’s allowed no runs. Overall he’s got a 3.00 ERA in that time frame with 3 walks, 2 homers, and 16 strikeouts in 18.0 innings for the Reds. Those 11 days in May were very, very bad, though.

  9. Roger Garrett

    Unless Steer gets to start 4 out of every 5 games and I prefer 5 out of 5 then why bring him up.His primary positions are 3rd and 2nd.Farmer ain’t moving and neither is India.I sad it earlier Steer should not have to learn to play a new position such as first or in the outfield while trying to hit major league pitching.IMO Farmer goes to 1st and Steer to 3rd and we play on but I don’t see that happening.Bell won’t move Farmer any more then he would resign.Steer will be jerked around and used all over the diamond which of course makes sense only in Bell’s world.Hope the kid is mentally tough.

    • Chris

      While I agree that Steer should play a lot, but won’t, have to disagree with the new position thing. For the most part, especially a guy like Steer, he’s been playing baseball forever and has probably played almost every infield position to some extent. I don’t think it’s an issue for him to move around. As for Farmer, I would like him to not play, so that other younger options could play more, but that isn’t on Bell (admittedly most things are), because that’s how MLB is. No team in the Red’s position would sit a legitimate player like Farmer at this point in his career. Heck the players union would be all over the Reds, and it sure wouldn’t help them sign free-agents in the future. Farmer should be traded, but for now he has clearly earned the right to play most every day until this season ends.

    • Rcsodak

      Steer says he likes playing new positions. Let the young man do his thing.

  10. Melvin

    I’m looking forward to seeing what Steer brings to the team. It will be the first time I’ve seen him play. From everything I’ve read he’s a very solid talented player. As others have said I wonder when/where David Bell will play him. Sometimes playing a young player at different positions other than what he’s used to doesn’t effect him negatively at all but not the case with others. For example in the case with Senzel I don’t think it helped him a bit.

  11. Chris Holbert

    Krall, “welcome to the big leagues”, DB, “oh goody, another rookie to pinch hit with”.

  12. burtgummer01

    Steer at third,Farmer back to ss
    The wonder kid can ride the pine

  13. Rcsodak

    Wants Farmer a catcher? May e he goes there so they actually have a hit from that position.