The month of April is now behind us. As May begins there’s not a single team on the Cincinnati Reds farm with a winning record. Chattanooga has the best record at 10-11. Both Dayton and Daytona are 8-13. And then there’s Louisville at 9-17. The Bats haven’t had a winning record since the 2011 season. Things haven’t exactly gone well from a won-loss perspective for the Reds.

Despite the poor records across the system, there are some players having good performances. Last week we took a look at the start for Matt McLain and how he was making his case for a call up. This week one of the players we’re going to talk about is down in Dayton and he’s making his case to get the bump up to Double-A Chattanooga.

Blake Dunn had good numbers coming into the year. The problem for Dunn is that he simply had not been able to remain on the field. He missed the final month of 2021 after taking a ball off of his face – limiting him to just 11 games played following the draft. Last season he missed the first month of the year with an injury and then missing two-and-a-half months in the middle of the season after a collision in the field – limiting him to just 33 games with Daytona and six rehab games out in Arizona.

This season, Dunn played in 19 games with Dayton. That’s a career high for him at this point for games played without winding up on the injured list or the season coming to an end – which had been 18, which happened twice last year. And to say that those 19 games in the High-A Midwest League had gone well would be an understatement.

The outfielder leads the farm system with a .386 average (among qualified hitters). He leads the organization with a .539 on-base percentage. And he also leads the organization with a .702 slugging percentage. His 1.240 OPS is 204 points better than the next best mark among qualified hitters in the organization (Matt McLain). Oh, Blake Dunn also leads the organization with 11 steals. He’s walked 12 times, he’s struck out 13 times, and somehow he’s been hit by eight pitches.

Since being drafted in 2021 he’s played in 67 games and had exactly 250 plate appearances. He’s hit .304/.455/.518 with 36 steals and he’s been caught just twice. Dunn has 53 strikeouts in his career. He’s walked or been hit by a pitch 54 times in his career. The Reds don’t ask for any advice on transactions, but if they did, I’d make a friendly suggestion that it’s time for Blake Dunn to be moving on up to Double-A Chattanooga.

Elly De La Cruz continues to impress

It’s been a bit of a slow start to the 2023 minor league season for Elly De La Cruz. And if that sentence is confusing after the headline above, that’s understandable. Let me explain.

This season in Triple-A we have Hawkeye technology in the ballparks. That’s the same system that gives us all of the Statcast stuff in the big leagues. It’s the first year it’s in all Triple-A ballparks. And it’s giving us some insights into what players down there are capable of doing.

We’ve heard for years now about how Elly De La Cruz is just a different kind of guy with what he can do on the field. The statistics already kind of showed us that, but being able to point to things and say “he’s running faster than anyone else” or “he’s throwing harder than anyone else” or “he’s hitting the ball harder than anyone else” really backs up the visuals with hard data rather than just a “I think he’s doing those things.

The Arm Strength

Fielders don’t have to put all they’ve got into most throws that they make. Most throws are going to be at 60-70% effort because they’ve got the time to get the runner at the bag without the rush. But every so often there’s not as much time and a guy has to let one go. Elly De La Cruz has only been playing for nine games now. He’s already had three plays where he’s made a throw of 94 MPH or higher. On April 28th he topped out at 96.2 MPH.

This season, according to Baseball Savant, the top throw from the infield this season has been 93.7 MPH, done by both Taylor Walls and Enrique Hernandez.

The Speed

Elly De La Cruz is fast. Like really fast. On April 27th he tripled in a game against Iowa. It was the quickest home to third base time in minor league baseball. It was the third fastest in baseball this year, with the other two times coming from big leaguers (who those came from was not specified). On the following day he grounded out while reaching a speed of 31.1 feet per second. That’s the second highest sprint speed in Triple-A this season from a batter. Baseball Savant only gives us the average sprint speed for players, so we can’t see just where that stacks up against the fastest guys in the big leagues, but it’s fast. Real fast.

41 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    I was watching the Dayton game where Dunn pulled off the ITPHR. A little rattling around in the RF corner and it wasn’t even close.

  2. David

    So, is Blake Dunn kind of a miniature Mike Trout (not that he’s small, but Mike Trout is a pretty big guy)?

    Seems like an immensely talented young guy. Needs to be a little bit more careful crowding the plate, as he seems to get hit a lot.

    And EDLC? Yeah, he is really something else.

    And why are all the Reds’ minor league affiliates so bad, if they have such a good farm system? Or is the farm system just graded on how many top prospects they have in the pipeline?
    I have a sense there is a coaching and personnel management gap there…somewhere. I mean, because, well, you know…the Reds themselves are so astutely managed.

    • Doug Gray

      A farm system grade is almost always based around a teams top 10-20 prospects, not all 180 guys in the farm system.

      That said, I think it’s fair to point out that Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Chase Petty all missed most of (or all of) the month. That’s three Top 10 guys that didn’t have much impact. Then there were some injuries that kept Edwin Arroyo off of the field a bit in Dayton, Cam Collier and Sal Stewart off of the field some in Daytona, and Jay Allen II off of the field in Dayton. There were a lot of injuries to guys who were top 20 prospects.

      Still…. when Louisville hasn’t had a winning season in over a decade you have to wonder what exactly’s happening.

      • Rut

        The Durham Bulls have been consistently good at AAA for years… while obviously not a direct correlation, I do think it is telling that the Ray’s have likewise been consistently good (especially in relation to payroll) for some time now as well.

        I have long been of the opinion that minor league team w/l is not an important factor when looking at overall organization health. Many reasons for this, timing of promotions being one biggie. Instructional requirements (like mandating Johan Santana ONLY use his change up, or certain hitters being required to take strike 1 before they can swing) also make overall judgement based on minor league w/l imprecise.

        That stated, I do think extended poor results in the minors (talking multiple seasons in a row) cannot be ignored. I do not recall too many instructional requirements as noted above for Reds players (would have loved if they had made Billy Hamilton bunt for a hit at least 1 time per game for a minor league season or two), but to my knowledge they have not done anything so drastic.

        The fact that the Bats haven’t had a winning season in over a decade while the parent club has mostly stunk can only be viewed as yet another example of organizational rot — from top down. Hard to find any other explanation for this level of disfunction and consistent poor performance from what I can tell.

      • Optimist

        Rut’s comment, and Doug’s concluding point, are apt. Baseball is fairly unique in that winning every day may not be the best strategy. Even the NBA is taking the long season strategy much more seriously.

        Still, persistent losing creates a persistent culture of sorts. All too often the Reds have too many holes at too many positions on too many teams. If they don’t want to delay moving obvious talent through the system, occasionally accepting poor performance while adjusting to levels, then they need to fill the remaining rosters with sufficient complementary talent. Failure to do this for such an extended period is an organizational flaw, not a talent flaw.

        Kyle Boddy has made some interesting comments lately about the Reds in this regard – essentially that they’ve upgraded their off field practices through the DW times – they did well by staff and players in COVID, training and facility improvements, etc.. There’s a bit of self-interest involved, sure, but he hints at differences in approaching development he had, not with the structure or foundation of the organization.

        That will help eventually, but only to the extent that talent management and development improves as well.

      • Melvin

        Rut – Do you possibly mean the Reds just don’t know how to win as an organization top to bottom? 🙂 haha

      • Kdavis

        Doug, What is the issue with Chase Petty and is expected to miss more significant time?

      • Doug Gray

        Elbow issue. He should be back soon.

  3. AMDG

    The Reds have been playing Dunn about 2 years older than the competition over the past couple of seasons (He will be 25 later this season and is still in A ball).

    It would be interesting to see what he does against similar aged opponents.

    • Doug Gray

      “Later this season” – You mean the last week of the season.

      • Danny

        Yes, I am guessing that is what he means. He certainly won’t be having a birthday “earlier this season” lol.

  4. Dragons

    Was at the Dragons game yesterday and Dunn absolutely smoked his homerun! Impressive power for a smaller guy.

  5. LDS

    Lineup is out. Bell doubles down on clueless.

    • CI3J

      How Bell doesn’t know that Friedl hits lefties just as well as righties is beyond me.

      At least Reynolds isn’t starting.

    • Old-school

      Bell is not clueless

      Hes very intentional and strategic.

      Kevin newman is a core regular part of this infield and he’s getting him consistent at bats and playing time. He said that 2 weeks ago. Steer or Senzel need to be 3b.

      I thought Newman was a fantastic bench and utility player. Bell views him as a key component of his strategy to get everyone playing time on the Cincinnati Reds 12u travel team.

      • Melvin

        That’s right. Everyone paid to be on this travel team and everyone is going to get lots of playing time by golly…..Actually, that argument doesn’t even fly on a kids travel team.

    • Mark Moore

      Oh my freaking word!!!

      I get Handy DT Bell has a limited roster to work with.
      I get Bull Krall is severely hamstrung on budget
      I get we’re not going to the playoffs unless our guys buy tickets.

      But this is just plain BAFFLING to me. Good news is I won’t watch more than an hour of the game, if that much.

      • Kevin H

        I dunno Mark. I just don’t know.

        Ramos has impressed.

        I still say Reds Best Lineup

        India 2nd
        Friedl Cf
        Steer 1st
        Stephenson C
        Fraley Rf
        Ramos DH
        Senzel 3rd
        Barrero ss
        Fairchild Lf.

        Granted a day off here and there,. However to me this is best Lineup

  6. tim

    isnt it about time to call an end to the experiment with fairchild? friedl should be in left, every day. send fairchild down and bring up mclain or CES or anybody.

    • wkuchad

      He’s not a superstar, but Fairchild has 5th highest OPS on the team.

      Everyone’s stats have dropped off lately except Ramos and Senzel.

    • BK

      No, it’s not. Fairchild has been an above-average hitter and fielder for the Reds both last season and this season. His batting average is low right now but mitigated by a high OBP. He’s the fourth outfielder on the team who can play all three outfield positions, and he’s not playing daily. When CES or McLain are promoted, they need to play daily. Giving them Fairchild’s limited playing time would be a poor developmental decision. He’s giving the Reds exactly what they should hope for in a fourth outfielder.

      • Melvin

        Do you think Newman is taking away Friedl from playing every day?

      • BK

        Melvin, FWIW, I would swap Fairchild and Senzel in tonight’s lineup.

        Yes, I think Newman is playing too much–I don’t think its gross at this point, but it is a legit criticism. While Newman’s splits against LHP are better than Friedl, he’s not a long-term piece for the Reds. I don’t believe the advantage that he currently has against LHP warrants finding out how well Friedl can handle LHP. Also, this is the third game in a row against a LH starting pitcher, so rest shouldn’t be a factor. Perhaps Friedl has a small injury, but otherwise it’s not how I would prefer to see the playing time distributed.

        The only explanation for tonight’s lineup is that Bell has started reading and heading your and LDS advice that if a player has a multi-hit game, he should be guaranteed a spot in the lineup the next day. In short, I blame you 🙂

      • Melvin

        BK – Well bite my tongue. Actually it’s mostly only when a player gets THREE hits that he doesn’t play the next game. 🙂

      • Melvin

        BK – I’ll give you something to think about BK. Senzel just recieved Player Of The Week honors. There was a game in which Senzel had three hits in one game and the next day was scheduled not to start. He only made the lineup after someone else being scratched. So do you think Senzel would still have made Player Of The Week had he not been able to play that game and keep his hot streak going? We’ll never know I guess will we? Glad he played though. 😉

      • Harry Stoner

        Friedl .278 v lefties

        Newman .259 v lefties

        Where is the disinformation coming from?

        Is Bell now paying attention either?

      • BK

        @Harry, the discrepancy is between the stats you and I are using to measure hitting. I prefer OPS over batting average.

        Friedl’s OPS vs. LHP – .705
        Newman’s OPS vs. LHP – .792

        Biggest difference is Newman has shown more power against LHP thus far.

      • BK

        @Melvin, I’m glad Senzel won Player of the Week, but I’m not sure that any manager is making decisions to help players win weekly awards, nor should they be.

    • Melvin

      BK – That’s not my point buddy. lol I think you know that. The point is would he have had such a good week if he had indeed had to sit the game after getting three hits? In other words the three hits helped him build momentum and sitting would have been counterproductive to that and also the Reds winning.

      • BK

        Melvin, after Senzel’s last four seasons and abysmal start to his fifth season, I’ll admit that I’m surprised by his week-long surge. But I’m happy it happened, I hope it continues, and I am glad Bell is following your advice now. 🙂

      • Melvin

        BK – I’d be happy if he did it more often then. 🙂

    • LDS

      @BK, if Bell was taking my advice, he’d resign and quit embarrassing himself. When you’re in over your head, quit.

      • Zach

        If we are going to have a player coach, it should be Votto.

        Maybe a dream more than a good idea. But I’m going to miss Votto.

  7. Melvin

    “The Reds don’t ask for any advice on transactions, but if they did, I’d make a friendly suggestion that it’s time for Blake Dunn to be moving on up to Double-A Chattanooga.”

    Well, they haven’t exactly been asking my advice but I’ll be happy to give them a call and put in a good word for you if you want. 🙂

  8. Luke J

    Nick Senzel named NL player of the week. Congrats to him.