The Cincinnati Reds are one of the worst hitting teams in Major League Baseball so far this season. They entered Thursday with an OPS+ of 81 (100 is league average – so this tells us the Reds are 19% worse than average). Cincinnati’s 27 home runs entering the day were third worst in baseball, ahead of just the Guardians and Nationals. The Tampa Bay Rays had 75 home runs entering the day, just to put things into perspective of the gap between where the Reds were and where the top hitting team in baseball is. But down in Triple-A there’s a whole lot of power in the lineup, and on Thursday night it was in plain view for anyone to see.

The Louisville Bats hit four home runs on Thursday with Alejo Lopez, Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand all giving away a souvenir baseball to someone in the stadium. But it was Encarnacion-Strand’s home run that really stood out. McLain had just homered, bringing Encarnacion-Strand to the plate in the bottom of the 5th inning and on a 2-1 count he got a 95 MPH fastball in the middle of the zone and he didn’t miss it, sending it 471 feet to center at 110 MPH off of the bat.


The home run was the only hit on the night for Christian Encarnacion-Strand, finishing the night 1-5. But that home run probably should have counted for two of them. Through 16 games since coming off of the injured list he’s hitting .352/.378/.718 with two doubles and eight home runs.

While hitting a baseball to the moon (don’t fact check this) is impressive, so is what Matt McLain did. The 2021 1st round pick seems to do something impressive every night and Thursday night was no different. He went 3-4 with a walk, double, and a home run. It was his third straight game with a home run, and his fifth home run in his last seven games.

McLain has played in all 35 games for the Bats this season. He’s now 45-129 with 11 doubles, a triple, and 12 home runs. He’s hitting .349/.459/.729 with 24 walks, 32 strikeouts, 29 runs scored, 37 runs batted in, and he’s stolen nine bases. One would certainly think that would be good enough to earn a call up when the two shortstops on the big league club have an OPS that if you added them together would only be seven points worse than McLain’s.

We can’t leave out some minor league updates without talking about Elly De La Cruz can we? We probably could, but we shouldn’t and we’re not going to. The 21-year-old went 1-2 with three walks and a home run on Thursday for the Bats. His home run was another one where it appeared that he felt he missed and was a little bit frustrated, only to see it landed eight rows deep for an opposite field home run.

It’s been a wild ride for Elly De La Cruz in Triple-A. He missed the first three weeks of the season with a hamstring injury that he suffered in spring training. When he was activated he started out the season 1-21 and piled up a whole bunch of strikeouts. Since then he’s had 66 plate appearances and hit .362/.439/.712 with seven walks and 15 strikeouts. Not bad for the third youngest position player in the league.

86 Responses

  1. ryan

    Given the absurdity of baseball economics, service time manipulation means a later loss of all these players to free agency. I can’t fault the Reds for a month now meaning a year in the future

    • Doug Gray

      That date passed by nearly 4 weeks ago.

      • jon

        It is UNBELIEVABLE McClain or CES or both are not promoted.

      • Chris

        Absolutely, and that’s why it is a joke and that anyone can fault the Reds at this point. I understand holding off on two of them, but McLain should absolutely be called up and inserted into the every day lineup at SS.

  2. Doc

    Mahle to have TJ surgery. Makes the trade that acquired CES and Steer for him look pretty good. Congrats Mr. Krall.

    • Kevin H

      Best wishes to Mahle and his recovery.

      • David

        Really. Tyler Mahle is a great guy, and this is a real unfortunate turn of events.

        Wish him the best.

      • MK

        Twins must believe they received damaged goods, you are correct, a great kid.

      • DaveCT

        Neither Boyd or Hajjar (Benson trade) have played for Cleveland this year, either.

    • Mark Moore

      Nothing I’ve seen aside from “headed for an MRI”. Hoping we avoid an oblique injury.

      • LDS

        Saw that as well. Don’t even want to think about the lineup that follows if he goes on the IL. Looking at the 40, who gets the call, WIl Benson or Siani (assuming the Reds don’t make a 40 man move)?

      • Harry Stoner

        I hope they don’t take the lazy approach and decide to move Senzel back there just as he is getting comfortable at 3b.

        Sadly, the Ramos Experiment doesn’t really seem to be working.

        If the Reds are indeed giving up on Barerro, he might not be the worst choice to play CF, but his hitting against righties is horrible.

        The lefty Benson would be the smart move, but there’s no guarantee he won’t revert to early season form.

        Siani would be a mistake. He’s not ready at all for MLB pitching.

        Muddle through.

        I was just starting to get on the Friedl bandwagon, too.

        I hope the injury is minor, but if you’re headed for an MRI it’s not a mosquito bite.

  3. Melvin

    I’m all for bringing these guys up ASAP AS LONG AS THEY PLAY EVERY DAY. No I don’t think it’s essential for them to play the spots now that they will eventually end up in to begin with. They’ve come to the point that the sooner they get regular ML at bats the sooner they will reach their potential in my view.

  4. wkuchad

    Options if Friedl goes on the IL:

    1. Keep other starters as is, and Fairchild moves to CF
    2. Keep other starters as is, and Benson is called up platoon at CF with Fairchild
    3. Barrero moves to CF, and McLain is called up to cover SS
    4. Senzel moves to CF, and CES is called up, and CES/Steer covers 1B and 3B
    5. India moves to LF, and McLain is called up to cover his new permanent position of 2B
    (Fraley or Myers covers CF temporarily, weakening our OF defense)

    I don’t like option 1 or 2. If we have a starter going on the IL, use that to get one of our prospects up and get some playing time. I actually prefer option 5 the most, because moving India to outfield helps with the infield jam that’s coming.

    • Stock

      I don’t like option 4. I don’t think CES is ready.

      • Chris

        Based on what? He’s 23 years old, raked in Spring Training, raking again in AAA.

      • DaveCT

        As for me, I’d say CES needs more time in the circuit so AAA and AAAA pitchers can get him scouted and then pitch to his weaknesses, rather than for him toget chewed up in the show. I argue this all the time, be it for pitchers or hitters. For the average minor leaguer, the repetitions with their successes and failures are better spent in the minors, not the ML’s. As for CES, it’s been 16 games. Nobody would name him to the AAA All-Star team at this point, so why would we assume his continued success with a promotion? Plus the dude has a herniated disk that has to be watched.

        And then there’s the defense. 3B won’t be a pathway for him to Cincy due to Senzel, Marte, and possibly EDLC. While he does have an absolute cannon of an arm, he really has to learn to play 1B. It’s not helpful to risk having him make errors at 1B that will be unforced errors, rookie errors if you will, especially with a very young pitching staff that is working their butts off trying to keep games close. It’s counter-productive to establishing a winning culture, IMO.

        CES is close. He knows it, we know it, they all know it. It won’t be long.

    • BK

      I don’t like option #5. Without question, India is the best position player on the team if Friedl goes to the IL. Asking him to do something he has not done in a counting game over the last eight seasons would be extraordinarily risky … and unnecessary. Moving India to 3B could work, but it may also be a lot to ask during the middle of the season. The Reds are weak defensively. Future changes should work to improve the defense and the lineup–both are problematic, and both affect the outcome of games.

    • Chris

      Why do people keep bringing up Benson’s name, as if he and his subpar .200 BA should be on a major league baseball team? I think people are throwing his name out there because they know his name, and that’s about it. Geez!

      • DaveCT

        Benson, one, is on the 40-man, and we did just trade two decent minor leauguers to get him (they won’t be DFA-ing him anytime soon).

        He is also turning things around at AAA, where they are batting him ahead of EDLC, McClain and CES and he’s responding well.

        Benson plays CF, too, and can platoon with Fairchild, which avoids putting Barrero or Senzel out there.

    • Chris

      Does India even play the outfield? Has he ever?

      • wkuchad

        It’s supposedly a season for sorting, so why not find out if he can?

        At some point in the near future, the Reds need to either (1) move an infielder to the outfield or (2) trade an infielder for starting pitching or an outfielder.

  5. Bill J

    Seen the Reds will face a rookie in his 1st ML start tomorrow. Reminds me back in ’55 they last a double header to 2 Dodger rookie pitchers. Hope they can win this one.

  6. Stock

    Over the last month Matt McLain has been on fire.

    His OPS is 1.386 and his ISO is .451. His K% of 17% is good and his BB% of 16.1% is excellent. He has been somewhat lucky, (BABIP of .452 and adj BABIP of .346) but even if you reduce his adj BABIP down to .250 his OPS is sitting at 1.286.

    I buy this streak as real and feel he is ready for the show.

    EDLC got off to a slow start. I feel his April in Louisville is equal to spring training. Therefore, I am comfortable ignoring his April. He came into the season being questioned on his K% and BB%. Other than that he was deemed ready. He has only 44 Plate Appearance in May but he has been very efficient.

    .342/.432/.842/1.274 with a 18.2% K% and and 11.4% BB% To make this even more impressive is he has been somewhat unlucky (.320 BABIP, .227 adj BABIP). 44 PA is not enough to be certain, but if June ends with him having an 18% K% he is ready.

    CES is probably not ready. He came out on fire in April and even as of today his line is fantastic.


    But looking deeper his 24.3% K% and 1.4% BB% scream danger. I can’t help but believe he would struggle in the majors if he did not take walks.

    Chuckie Robinson has been very good this year but also very lucky. He needs another month or two in Louisville to normalize his stats and determine if he can adjust to the adjustments pitchers seem to have made this month. His line is great for the year (.417/.473/.583/1.056) and his 9.7% K% and 7.5% BB% are good. The problem is his BABIP is .444 and his adj BABIP is .403. Both are very high and as the year progresses his OPS should come down.

    TJ Hopkins has also been very good (.309/.408/.536/.944). But he has also been somewhat lucky (BABIP .433 adj BABIP .333) His K% is at 29.2% on the year and needs to come down.

    In short 1 guy (McLain) is ready, 1 (EDLC) needs another month to ensure his May is for real and three have things to work on.

    • Kevin H

      Hopkins has been solid now for almost two years. He deserves a shot to see what he can do.

      • Chris

        Can’t have a K rate of almost 30% in AAA and then expect to succeed in MLB. He has to bring that number down.

    • DaveCT

      Hopkins is likely a platoon LF or RF, which isn’t needed at this point either.

      My thoughts on CES and his development, above

  7. Votto4life

    The Reds are just 5 games under .500 and are now 4.5 games out of first place. Had ownership made even a modest effort to improve the major league roster, during the off season, this could have been a very exciting season.

    • Kevin H

      What are your thoughts on calling up a few guys. We see other organizations do it.

      I truly believe Abbot, CES, and McLain should be up and I do believe they contribute.
      Cruz Hopkins and even Robinson soon as well. If I understand contracts right they still have to pay the players even if dfa?

      Newman, Casile, (spelling) and Myers go bye. Maybe even Barrero or Fairchild. Just saying I see other teams bring up their top prospects and reds so far have done nothing.

      • DHud

        De La Cruz

        Not trying to nit-pick, just my POV that if we as fans can get on here and talk about these young men, often I’m not so nice words about what we think they can and can’t do, we can at least show the respect to get their names right

      • Votto4life

        Kevin H., I have been really hesitant about calling the prospects up in the fear that rushing them may do more harm than good. However, I don’t want to waste good hitting in Louisville, when it is so desperately needed in Cincinnati.

        My wife and I are planing a trip to Louisville in June to watch these guys play. I would much prefer to cancel that trip and watch them play them in Cincinnati instead.

        During last winter, Nick Krall stated he expected the Reds to be much younger by the end of 2023. I took that to mean they would start bringing up the young players after this summer’s trading deadline. I would now like to see them starting that process before the all star break.

      • PTBNL

        w/ you D-Hud.

        In Spanish, Cruz means “cross”, De la Cruz means “of the Cross”. Two different last names. Every time I see someone say “Cruz”, I think of the pitcher Fernando Cruz. They are two different last names and two different players and it does show a sign of respect.

      • PTBNL

        I’m with you DHud.

        The last name Cruz in Spanish means “Cross” and the name De la Cruz means “of the Cross”. Two different names. Every time I see someone call EDLC “Cruz”, I think of Fernando Cruz the pitcher. It really does boil down to a sign of respect for two different last names.

      • VegasRed

        Kevin I see you and others who routinely urge the reds to dump current players quite often and I don’t get it?

        How does it help the team to dump prospect capital? That is just bad business my friends. Dumping talent is a waste!

        Nobody on this board knows how any of the reds younger players will turn out yet. Nobody.

        Barrerò, Fairchild, Bensen, Friedl, Fraley, Senzel, Steer, Ramos, the young pitchers and the guys who are hot in AAA—none of these guys have enough mlb AB’s to know how their careers will turn out. Fact.

        Barrerò gets beat up here all the time for what? Why? Again no one knows his future.

        Now Newman? Myers? Yeah we know all too well who these guys are and they ain’t in the future. Bell is an idiot for overplaying both these guys, especially Newman.

        Further, India and Stevensen are really a little too young also but a decent projection is forming just this year. And I think (I don’t KNOW) stevensen will get his power back as gets more recovered from last year injuries.

        You all can fan how you want, and continue to hope young guys get dumped—“ bye bye”— but you clearly don’t have any facts or crystal ball to persuade me you know what you are talking about. And Kevin H is hardly the biggest fortune teller on here so sorry if including your name is too in your face.

    • BK

      The very small investments made are not working out as planned. They also missed on Akiyama, Moose, and Minor (via trade). I’m not sure additional “modest efforts” would have moved the needle much.

  8. CFD3000

    The CES home run was RIDICULOUS. often with a ball hit that far, the outfielders don’t even move. But in this case the centerfielder started back, only to have it land more than 100’ behind him. I don’t know exactly how much CES, EDLC and Matt McLain still need to learn at AAA, and CES will definitely need to learn some plate discipline against major league pitching, but it’s hard to see how any one of them wouldn’t be an upgrade over guys like Newman, Ramos, or Fairchild. Things get tricky with who plays where, but at some point soon the Reds just have to call these guys up. Don’t they?

    • Kevin H

      Lmao@ DHUD it’s a message board relax

      • DHud

        Pretty relaxed

        Take my comment or not – just figured you’d be upset if people just chose to call you the wrong name ????

      • Kevin H

        Then what is it Doug if not a message board?

      • Doug Gray

        This is a website that allows people to comment.

      • Harry Stoner

        Anglos and Spanish names.

        I’ve been dealing with it my whole life.

      • Votto4life

        Doug, I am glad you allow us to comment. Reading the comments is the best part of this site IMHO. There is another Red’s related site that allows commenting, but few people comment. I tend to visit that site once a week or
        so, but I visit RLN multiple times a day.

  9. Tim

    This would be the seventh longest homer in mlb this season

  10. Mario

    McLain should be in Miami tonight. Shame on the Reds. Newman should not be getting regular PT. It’s ridiculous for them to play him regularly to try to showcase him for a trade. This team could have a very bright future in 2024/2025, but the young players need playing time now – not retreads.

  11. DataDumpster

    The clamor for bringing up the prospects continues. I think that there is enough talent in the pipeline and at the right positions to displace everyone playing the infield and possibly even India (in trade for a top SP). That may be the outcome but who decides when each prospect is set to assume his place? Certainly not this forum and hopefully not influenced by ticket sale opportunities, Bell’s interim “needs”, or any other picadillo that does not prioritize very strongly each prospect’s development to when the “time is right”. We do not need any more platoon opportunities in this lineup. Be patient, whatever moves are made should show commitment to the strongest everyday player at each position. Anybody got defense?

    • LDS

      Too soon for most of the prospects. Drawing positive conclusions about the guys in Louisville and drawing negative conclusions about Fairchild & Barrero are two sides of the same coin. In neither case is the sample size sufficient to draw definitive conclusions. Factor in usage patterns, etc. and basically, we don’t know anything about anyone at this point. Guys like Newman with years of stats are much clearer. But none of that means diddly in the Reds organization.

      • Jim t

        @LDS I can agree with your view on the prospects but not about Fairchild and Barrera.

        Fairchild has been through Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona. Not being able to stick at any of those organizations. Barrera has now had parts of 2 seasons with reds. I see your point about giving him the keys and letting him go for awhile but my eyes tell me he has a bunch of holes in his plate approach. The pitchers at the ML level have really exposed him as a guy who will chase breaking balls off the plate. I hope I’m wrong about both players because we have needs at both positions but I don’t think I am.

      • Indy Red Man

        It’s not too soon for McLain to outproduce Barrero & Newman and it’s not difficult to replace a 30+ year old nomad that’s 1-for-May like Ramos. If they came up and struggled then send them back. If that ruins them then they’re too soft. Baseball is difficult. And EDLC? He could crush Barrero/Newman if he swung the bat overhead like an axe

      • Indy Red Man

        I wouldn’t care if Fairchild has sampled every other organization in MLB. Hes the fastest guy on the Reds, until EDLC, and has power too. Alot more tools then a guy like Phillip Ervin and he had his contributions for a few years. LF platoon of Fraley/SF ain’t half bad and they’re cheap

      • LDS

        @JimT, Barrero has about 400 PAs thus far, most last year. Fairchild about 200. Their minor league careers both suggest there’s more than we’ve seen. Regardless, the jump from AAA to Major League isn’t easy and the move doesn’t always pan out. That’s why cautious optimism about the prospects and their AAA performance is warranted, especially given Bell’s coaching philosophy.

      • Jim t

        I can see that in regards to Fairchild. Hope your right.

      • Jim t

        @LDS Bells method has little to do with Barrera chasing balls a foot off the plate

      • LDS

        @JimT, that’s why you have coaches. It’s their job to work with those kinds of problems. Maybe they can’t fix it but it does seem rather pervasive on the Reds.

      • Jim t

        @LDS I’m sure they are working with him. Some just can’t change.

    • Jon

      You don’t trade India, the best hitter on the team and who’s under control for THREE more seasons after this year. The Reds’ biggest weakness is hitting, so how would it make any sense to trade him?

  12. docproc

    Friedl is not in tonight’s lineup. Hope he doesn’t land on the IL.

  13. Jimbo44CN

    Ramos down, McClain up.
    Senzel stays at third. He is the best 3rd baseman I have seen there in a long time.
    If TJ is hurt ( and what a shame that would be) I guess you bring up, who, HOpkins? And while they are at it, as much as I love Casali, either him or Maile has to go, or both. I would rather see Chuckie up here right now.

  14. Jimbo44CN

    Also, put Barrero in CF, and bench Newman as he will never be sent down. I am guessing that Krall and Bell are trying to play him enough to be trade bait.

    • Chris Holbert

      I agree that may be the case. My issue is there is plenty of history and stats on Newman for teams to know what he is. The Reds need Barrero to play so they can see what they have. They seem to be doing it in reverse..shocker.

  15. Jim t

    Guys I’m sorry but at this point in the season with the team very much In contention for division and wild card I’m playing the players I think give me the best chance to win. Their will be plenty of time to hold try outs if and when they fall out of the race.

    • Chris Holbert

      Barrero and Newman statistically are basically the same at this point. Barrero has slightly higher OPS and Newman has a slightly higher avg. Why not see what they have, MLB knows what Newman is?

    • Harry Stoner

      Newman, Barerro, Myers, Fairchild and Maile give the Reds the ‘best chance to win’?
      They’re in 4th place, 5 games under .500.
      How’s that working out?

  16. old-school

    Freidl not going to the IL but wont start any games in Miami for an oblique but hoping to avoid an IL stint and not available today. Per charlie goldsmith.

    Why? Put him on the 10 day and add a player so you aren’t short handed and make sure he is 100%

    • Jim Walker

      Too easy OS too easy.

      And for folks wondering, they have multiple candidates for the 60 day IL; so, nobody would be exposed to waivers unless they chose to go that route.

      And when Friedl is back, they have multiple option eligible guys on the active roster, so nobody is at risk of loss there unless the team choses that path,

      • Optimist

        Jim making way too much sense of the situation again.

      • Jim Walker

        Optimist>> I suppose it is possible they have made a waiver claim and are holding off on a 60 day IL move in case they are awarded the player when all the claims are settled.

  17. Kevin H

    Looking at De La Cruz’s minor league stats and wow offensive wise he is ready. Not sure his defense as honestly didn’t look at those. LOL

    • DHud

      To be a fly on the wall to hear the organization’s discussions about where his future is on defense

      He’s probably the best option the reds have at two or three different positions just based on nothing but tools and athleticism

    • Melvin

      Honestly I’m not near as concerned about defense. It’s the same game in the minors or majors. They can improve and get seasoning either place.

  18. steve d

    I do not comment much but I enjoy taking in all opinions and philosophies of the people on here, so here’s my take. Concerning the theory of “playing the players that give the Reds the best chance to win”, McLain should be playing in the majors now. With Bell’s penchant for moving people around a position can be found for him. On another matter, Newman is playing at about his career levels. Barrero (not Berrara) has not been given a consistent chance to show his potential. Also the 3 catcher scenario has proven only to shorten the bench flexibility. Finally, I hope we see Abbott soon.

    • Nick in NKY

      All of this, but especially your point on McLain. His slash line is great, and his peripherals back up the idea that his line is not a fluke. Whichever back up catcher has options should be sent down in favor of McLain, and this should happen 5 minutes ago.

      Not sending EDLC to the outfield for a test run in the minors is borderline criminally negligent. Of all the infield jamming prospects, he has the best tools to succeed at any OF position and the highest offensive potential. If Friedl needed an IL stint, EDLC would be primed for a callup to replace him.

      • Melvin

        Another good post Nick in NKY. Honestly I’m a little torn on the three catcher thing. On one hand I don’t like it but on the other hand I’m a little afraid of what Bell would do with another player maybe playing him more than he should.

  19. Bill J

    Reds will face a 20 year old rookie up from Double-A tonight.

    • Harry Stoner

      That doesn’t sound very promising.

      The Reds have a way of making such Young Turks feel very comfortable.