A week from today is the deadline for teams around Major League Baseball to make their final 40-man roster moves in order to protect minor leaguers from the Rule 5 Draft. A few weeks after that, the Rule 5 draft will take place on the final day of the winter meetings – December 6th.

Players eligible for the Rule 5 draft this year would be anyone signed to a professional contract in 2019 or earlier, or anyone who signed a professional contract in 2020 who was 19-years-old or older at the time that they signed. A player who is not on the 40-man roster by Tuesday at 6pm ET and meets the above criteria will be eligible to be selected by another team. That player must remain on the active big league roster for the 2024 season or be offered back to their original club.

Today we’re going to look at some of the pitchers in the Cincinnati Reds organization who will need to be protected within the next week or have a chance to be picked up by another organization.

There are three names that feel like possibilities to be added over the next week and all were acquired in different manners, and one of them has a very interesting story.

Jose Acuna – RHP

Jose Acuna joined the Cincinnati Reds organization at the trade deadline in 2022. He was a part of the deal with the New York Mets that saw the Reds trade Tyler Naquin and Phillip Diehl. Outfielder Hector Rodriguez also joined the Cincinnati organization that day.

Acuna had only thrown 72.0 innings as a professional before the 2023 season, and more than half of that had come in the rookie leagues as a teenager. This past year the Reds sent him to High-A Dayton where he pitched 100.2 innings across 22 games and posted a 3.93 ERA. That came with 44 walks, 100 strikeouts, and just 80 hits allowed for the Dragons. And he did that while being 20-years-old.

Why he could be selected

While he doesn’t stand out for his velocity – he tops out around 94 MPH most days – his fastball stands out for it’s movement. While his minor league career has only had 172.2 innings, they’ve been a good 172.2 innings as he’s got a career ERA of 3.54 with 190 strikeouts and 69 walks. Toss in that he’s done all of that before his 21st birthday and had success in High-A and he’s well ahead of the curve for his age.

Why he may not be selected

Despite the good numbers, his stuff doesn’t really stick out. He’s got three average-ish pitches with his fastball, slider, and change up. There’s more reliance on his mixing of pitches and location than there is with his pure stuff. Toss in the fact that he’s never pitched in Double-A or Triple-A, and you have to have a lot of faith that he could stick in the big leagues all year despite all of that. It’s a big jump from the Midwest League to the big leagues. Teams aren’t always against taking guys – particularly pitchers – who haven’t made it to the upper levels of the minor leagues, but when they do take that risk it is usually for guys with big time stuff who have struggled in some way and are hoping that their organization can make an adjustment to help that.



Christian Roa – RHP

The Reds selected Christian Roa in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft out of Texas A&M. He’s spent each of the three seasons since then splitting time between two levels, working his way up to Double-A and Triple-A in 2023.

Last season he threw 120.1 innings between his stops in Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, and split that time nearly evenly. He posted a 5.16 ERA during the year, allowing 102 hits – though 19 of those were home runs, striking out 170 batters, but also walking 91 of the hitters he faced.

Why he could be selected

There’s no question that Christian Roa has good stuff. You don’t strike out 170 batters between Double-A and Triple-A in 120.1 innings without good stuff. He averaged 94 MPH with his fastball in 2023, but topped out at 98. It’s the slider that really stands out, though. With experience in both Double-A and Triple-A he’s close-ish to being big league ready. A team could possibly look at him as a guy who could be turned into a reliever to help mitigate the control concerns.

Why he may not be selected

There are some pretty big control issues at play. He walked 16.6% of the opposing hitters he faced in 2023. That is a big obstacle to overcome because big league hitters are going to be more patient. A much less thing here is that if a team does intend to try him as a reliever, it’s a role he’s never really had to perform in and it is a little bit of an unknown as to how his stuff plays and if he can work on such a different kind of schedule.



Jayvien Sandridge – LHP

Update: 3:40pm ET

It seems that the Reds made the decision not to protect Jayvien Sandridge. The team could have added him to the 40-man roster, but opted to let him reach minor league free agency and he is now a free agent.

Original post continues below

One of the more interesting tidbits of information that I have personally come across in the last two years involves Jayvien Sandridge. Originally drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2018, he was released during 2020. He then went and played baseball for Lynn University. If you are confused about that, join the club. But a more recent rule that was put in place allows players with professional experience to retain some eligibility to play non-Division I baseball. The player loses a year of eligibility for each professional year they played.

After a year at Lynn, the Reds offered Sandridge a minor league deal to sign in 2021. In 2022 he split his season in A-ball between Daytona and Dayton. This past year he spent nearly all of the season in High-A Dayton where he threw 59.0 innings out of the bullpen before spending the final three games of his year in the Double-A bullpen with Chattanooga. Between the two stops he posted a 3.71 ERA in 63.0 innings while striking out 91 batters and walking 51. Cincinnati then sent him to the Arizona Fall League where he’s allowed a run in 6.1 innings with two walks and 13 strikeouts so far.

Why he could be selected

While the loogy has been eliminated from the game for the most part due to the minimum batters faced rule, lefties are still at a premium because there just aren’t as many of them out there with big league quality stuff. Sandridge certainly fits that mold. While his walk rate was high for the season, he was much better in the second half. In the first half of the year he walked 36 batters and had 40 strikeouts in 33.0 innings. After the All-Star break he has had 17 walks and 64 strikeouts in 36.1 innings (including his time in the Arizona Fall League). With minimal experience beyond A-ball, his second half improvements and showing in Arizona could convince someone to take a shot that he’s figured something out.

Why he may not be selected

He’s only got a handful of innings pitched above A-ball, and while he did show some improvements in the second half, his walk rate was still a little bit higher than you’d prefer it to be. His stuff is good, but it’s not elite. Couple both of those things together and teams may be hesitant to think that he could stick with the club all year.



40 Responses

  1. west larry

    I hope they protect both Sandridge and Acuna. Acuna could be a fifth starter or a multi- innings reliever. Sandridge could develop into a left-handed reliever.

  2. MBS

    I’m protecting Acuna, and Roa. I don’t see Sandridge getting drafted, or sticking with any club if he does. Roa’s ready to contribute in the bullpen at the very least, and Acuna is just a bit too tantalizing to dangle out there even though he’s not quite ready.

    • DaveCT

      I don’t think Roa is anywhere close to being ready. High ERA, high HR’s and high walks (91 in 120 innings). Not even Larkin’s ‘effectively wild’ nonsense works there. Hard pass for me, though that doesn’t mean for the club obviously.

  3. SultanofSwaff

    I don’t see a team picking up Acuna—just too difficult to envision a role for him on a big league club for an entire season. Roa and Sandridge on the other hand could easily be stashed in the bullpen of a rebuilding team. Kind of surprised the Reds haven’t transitioned Roa to the bullpen already given his high walk rates and max effort delivery. More to the point, he’s like 10th in line to secure a spot in the Reds rotation….and that’s before any trades/free agent acquisitions.

  4. Grand Salami

    All these guys are intriguing but the best one of the bunch (Acuna) is probably the furthest from Major-league ready, so that’s good for the Reds.

    Same as SoS, leeping a 20 year old on a 24 man roster without ruining his development, even for the A’s, Rockies, or Tigers, is virtually impossible to envision.

  5. Grand Salami

    Also, Stupid Cubs get Counsel. The one good thing was that he was ostensibly leaving the Central. Now the division’s big spenders have a manager head and shoulders above the rest!

    Anyone see the MLBTR top 50 list? The Reds aren’t the favorite of any staff member for a FA until #11 – Rodriguez. Not even a nod for Gray who checks in at #9.

    One nod for Lugo (#19) and 2/3 peg the Reds as favorites for Wacha (#24).

    There are a few other Neris (want) but not the exposure you’d expect from a team sitting on nearly $100 million of available payroll (which is probably as much or more than a team like the Yankees who are committed to $128 mill for just Stanon, Cole, Judge, and Rondon!!!)

    • Votto4life

      The Cubs finish second and they fire their manager. The Reds finish third and they give their manager a three year extension.

      • Mark Moore

        It’s beyond baffling and exactly to expected script for our illustrious Front Office.

    • SultanofSwaff

      If Lugo and Wacha are the most the front office is willing to fork over, then (besides profound exasperation) my attention would shift to the reliever market. By mlbtraderumors estimates, the Reds could nab two of Aroldis Chapman, Reynoldo Lopez and Jordan Hicks for ~$70mil combined. Nasty Boys 2.0.

      Beyond that, I’m doing what I can to pry Dylan Cease from the should be rebuilding White Sox.

      • MK

        Have you watched Chapman lately? The 2024 version would be an innings eater for the Nasty Boys team. After three teams in last two seasons he would be considered a reclamation project journeyman.

    • Kevin H

      Managers have little to do with outcomes. Just a bunch of noise

      • MK

        I’ve bee a lifelong Cleveland Browns site. The people on their sites still complain about Baker Mayfield. It becomes as tiresome as the continued complaining about David Bell.

      • David

        There’s a 12-step program for Cleveland Browns’ fans. 😉

        I know, I used to root for them all the time….but Art Modell clearing them out of Cleveland for Baltimore kind of cured that.

        David Bell is at times frustrating and maddening. Having said that, not all his decisions are bad, it’s just that the Redleg Nation braintrust almost always disagrees with him.
        And the ownership is really maddening.

        Imagine, if you will, Robert Howsam and the Reds’ ownership of the 1970’s behaving like the present “management” does. Pretty maddening, isn’t it.

        There is a story that in the depths of the 1971 season, that Sparky Anderson was really down about how the Reds were going, and thought he was going to get fired. He was sitting in his office, and Bob Howsam came down to see him. Sparky, mopey, just said, ” the fans all want me fired and replaced”
        To which Bob Howsam replied…”I don’t”

    • Melvin

      Naw. Managers don’t really matter. They just fill out lineups and the lineups they fill out don’t really matter. 😉

  6. LDS

    I think the roster slots could be better used. These guys don’t sound like major league ready pieces in the near term.

  7. Tom Diesman

    The Steamer 2024 Stat Projections are out at Fangraphs. I ran them with projected playing time and computed RC for hitters and used runs allowed to compute a pythagorean W/L for the Reds and it came out just below .500 at 79-83. There’s lots of room for projectable improvement though for many of the player projections. I’ve included the Reds projections used below.

    Pyth. WP W L
    49% 79 83

    Tyler Stephenson 368 10 .255 .329 .406 .735
    Christian Encarnacion-Strand 561 28 .271 .329 .491 .819
    Matt McLain 615 23 .255 .338 .451 .789
    Noelvi Marte 491 14 .268 .334 .428 .762
    Elly De La Cruz 519 20 .245 .310 .440 .750
    Spencer Steer 593 21 .254 .336 .436 .772
    TJ Friedl 610 19 .255 .335 .429 .764
    Will Benson 458 15 .225 .340 .405 .745
    Jake Fraley 475 19 .249 .342 .436 .778
    Jonathan India 590 19 .256 .347 .424 .771
    Luke Maile 232 6 .230 .307 .366 .673
    Nick Senzel 114 3 .242 .308 .374 .682
    Stuart Fairchild 224 7 .225 .309 .385 .693
    Nick Martini 156 5 .241 .329 .406 .735
    Bubba Thompson 38 1 .236 .286 .357 .643
    TJ Hopkins 26 1 .236 .309 .388 .697

    Name ERA G IP K/9 BB/9 WHIP
    Hunter Greene 4.26 29 168 11.06 3.55 1.26
    Graham Ashcraft 4.81 29 171 6.99 3.19 1.44
    Andrew Abbott 4.40 28 156 9.85 3.56 1.32
    Brandon Williamson 5.32 26 142 7.51 3.84 1.49
    Nick Lodolo 3.88 24 135 10.40 3.15 1.24
    Connor Phillips 4.69 13 65 9.64 4.58 1.43
    Lyon Richardson 4.58 5 25 9.34 4.43 1.44
    Carson Spiers 5.19 3 15 7.57 3.58 1.45
    Levi Stoudt 5.59 3 15 6.80 3.70 1.51
    Christian Roa 4.97 2 10 9.33 4.92 1.49
    Alexis Díaz 4.33 68 68 10.68 4.55 1.36
    Lucas Sims 4.76 62 62 10.18 4.60 1.41
    Ian Gibaut 4.55 61 61 8.76 3.77 1.40
    Sam Moll 4.05 60 60 9.58 4.25 1.38
    Fernando Cruz 3.97 58 58 11.13 3.79 1.26
    Derek Law 4.68 54 54 7.97 3.73 1.44
    Alex Young 4.49 52 52 8.03 3.48 1.40
    Tejay Antone 4.33 49 49 9.11 3.74 1.36
    Tony Santillan 4.81 34 34 9.30 4.64 1.46
    Casey Legumina 4.88 22 22 7.98 3.72 1.44
    Daniel Duarte 4.98 15 15 8.08 4.63 1.52

    • SultanofSwaff

      Wildly low on Matt McClain, TJ to a lesser extent. Mostly on the mark though. I think there’s upside with Williamson if you look at his 2nd half WHIP.

      • BK

        Yep, they seem to expect a lot of regression for the rookies heading into their sophomore seasons.

      • Grand Salami

        Low on Benson, high on India.
        ELDC is a wildcard. Could blow that number out.

        It’s the Pitching side that doesn’t deliver.

    • BK

      @Tom, thanks for putting this post together for us here!!!

      • David

        The projections are “interesting”. As a “mean” or “average” of Reds’ players performance, it may be reasonably accurate. My personal guess is that some players will significantly exceed their projections, and some will fall below projections.
        And some of these players and pitchers will not be on the 26 man roster (well, obviously!) on Opening Day, or even still BE with the Reds organization.

    • LDS

      Interesting projections. More importantly, the roster is clogged with guys that shouldn’t be there and should be replaced this off season. The Reds spent last season with the 40 & 60 jammed with players that won’t matter going forward. Hopefully, Krall signs some that do.

      • David

        First they clog the roster. Then, they clog the basepaths!
        Is there no end to this?
        The Reds’ need some Baseball Drano!

      • Votto4life

        Last season was about “sorting” remember?

    • Votto4life

      This seems reasonable projections to me. I suppose they account for injuries with games played/ innings pitch. However, if Hunter Greene spends most of the season on the IL, which I think is a fairly reasonable assumption based on the past two seasons and his history (TJ surgery), I wouldn’t be surprised if the team wins are adjusted downward to 70-73 wins. Then you are looking at 4th place in the NL Central and well out of wild card consideration.

  8. redsfan4040

    Roa, Sandridge, Hinds, and Hurtubise are the four I’d lean towards protecting if I’m the Reds. That’s 4 guys for 3 roster spots (currently) and doesn’t leave any room for free agents or selections in the Rule 5 draft.

  9. BK

    Haven’t the Reds showed their hand with Roa? As desperate as the big league team was for pitching in 2023, he never received the call. I don’t see Acuna sticking with another team for a full year–it’s really hard to roster a player for a full season, especially in this era where 13-man pitching staffs become quickly exhausted. In order, I see the Red’s Rule 5 additions as:

    1. Hinds
    2. Hurtubise
    3. Sandridge
    4. Acuna

    The one pitcher I believed needed to be added was Spiers, and he got the call in late September. Sandridge has had a nice showing in the AFL. As of today, I’m guessing the top three are added, but Hinds is the only sure bet, and I can’t see protecting more than four.

    • David

      Yeah, I get the feeling that Christian Roa was not particularly well thought of within the Reds’ organization.
      Rece Hinds is moving forward, and based on his AA year, there would be some team out there that would grab him and put him on the 26 man roster for 2024 if he was NOT protected.
      I am not terribly sold on Hurtibise yet, but we shall see, I guess.
      Sandridge is an interesting case. He may be close to actually emerging.
      Acuna is still at least a season or two away from the Majors. Would someone actually draft him Rule 5?

      • BK

        WRT Acuna and the Rule 5 draft in general, I would only be concerned if Acuna stuck with another team for the entire season. Over half of Rule 5 drafted players are returned to their original team. Getting focused attention from another team would only help him and he would ultimately be returned.

        There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth here if someone is plucked from the Red’s system, but frankly, I want the Reds to have a strong enough system that other teams are trying to poach.

    • MBS

      @BK, I 100% agree with this.

      “There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth here if someone is plucked from the Red’s system, but frankly, I want the Reds to have a strong enough system that other teams are trying to poach.”

      Maybe I’m sleeping on Sandridge, but I don’t see him getting selected.

      I’d protect more guys than you, but that’s probably because I’m more in the clean house mode. With my current ideal 40 man scenario, I’d have 5 FA’s added, and 7 Rule 5 guys protected. If you’re doing the math at home, that only leaves 28 members of the 40 man roster remaining.

    • DaveCT

      Roa showed his own hand. Almost 8 walks per 9 innings will do that, as will 1 HR every 5 innings.

  10. Chris

    I would only keep Roa. The other two are not going to stick on a MLB team all season.

    • MK

      Have never been impressed with Roa. He would be well down my list on the depth chart. Sandridge on the other hand has made so many improvements this year. He could help an MKB team now.

    • DaveCT

      91 walks in 120 innings last season not to mention a 5.68 era and 19 home runs tells me Roa wouldn’t even stick through spring training.

  11. Optimist

    I think Doug may get around to it, but I wonder how he views this? I’d lean toward putting none of them on the 40-man, less for the potential loss than for the odds that any other team could keep them all season. Sandridge seems like the only one you could carry as the last guy in the pen if you’re desperate and have that much hope in his future.

    Starters, not at all. Sceroler made it until June 2 years ago on an awful Orioles club. These are better prospects, but still unlikely to make it all season.

    I guess the only question I have is whether you can play IL games, but IIRC any time on the IL simply extends the return clock into the following season. But I may misunderstand that.

    Much easier to protect Hinds and Hurtubise on the offensive side.

    • Melvin

      “I’d lean toward putting none of them on the 40-man, less for the potential loss than for the odds that any other team could keep them all season. ”

      I tend to agree with this especially roster spots being at a premium.

  12. Amarillo

    For those talking about Steamer projections, Steamer’s primary input is past ML performance, so it always projects low for players in their first 2-3 years.

  13. Mario

    those projections look grim. If on target, they scream 75 wins not a playoff contender.