More Bats or just Wahoos? A look at the Reds' advanced minor league depth

Who's giving who the "kiss of death" here?

Talk of Todd Frazier being sent down (perish the thought) got me to realizin' that the Reds are a little bit thin in the high minors, at least among position players. Frazier is still with the major league team, but if the Reds wanted to add offense to their bench - or were forced to make an injury replacement - they can use this directory. I can't imagine they have access to this information anywhere else.

These are only "major-league ready" hitters (and even then, I'm probably stretching the definition), in no particular order.

I'm a little bit scared.

Neftali Soto, 1B (AAA)

Pre-season composite prospect ranking: 9.33

Current line: .255/.319/.425

40 man?: YES

Soto's bat, probably a different one than swatted 31 HRs last season, hasn't heated up yet in 2012. He also hasn't played 3B since he logged 7 appearances there in high-A during the 2010 season. He doesn't really fill a current need for the Reds, but he is on the 40-man and playing at AAA - those two facts alone are enough for the inside track on a bench job.

Didi Gregorius, SS (AA)

Pre-season composite prospect ranking: 6.67

Current line: .313/.367/.323

40 man?: YES

With Janish convalescing, I would think Gregorius would be the 3rd string SS pro tempore. Valdez's bat is never going to disqualify him from being Cozart's back-up, but if one of the two were to go down, Didi should get the call. That said, they could pass him over for Valaika or Negron.

Corky MIller, C (AAA)

Pre-season composite prospect ranking: n/a

Current line: .318/.444/.477

40 man?: NO

Corky would only make his triumphant return if one of the major league catching tandem went down, but he would be a welcome influence on the team. His season so far suggests he can still at least hit passably for a catcher in the majors. He has a rocket arm, plenty of experience as a receiver for many of the arms of the Reds' staff and would be able to continue his Meso-mentoring.

Dionner Navarro, C (AAA)

Pre-season composite prospect ranking: n/a

Current line: .282/.354/.410

40 man?: NO

The Reds are still in decent shape with catching depth after shedding Ramon and Yasmani. Even if you think Navarro is washed up and does not offer the Crash Davis qualities of Corky Miller, he's still been among the most productive Bats. He'll also allow us to dust-off (and slightly modify) a beloved blog catch-phrase ("Suck it, Duaner!").

Henry Rodriguez, 3B/2B (AA)

Pre-season composite prospect ranking: 11.0

Current line: .342/.375/.441

40 man?: YES

H-Rod has been moved over to third base at Pensacola after playing the bulk of his games at 2B last season. Given the Reds' future-but-probably-current needs, it makes perfect sense. With Todd still around, there's probably nowhere for him to go, but he's on the 40-man roster and offers roughly the same infield skillset as Harris and Cairo.

Mike Costanzo, 3B/1B (AAA)

Pre-season composite prospect ranking: n/a

Current line: .296/.356/.519

40 man?: NO

Costanzo has come out of seemingly nowhere to put up a .310/.414/.583 line across two levels this season. Since he's 28, it's probably a mirage. He was a 2nd round draft pick; it's not out of the question that the Reds could turn a little late-blooming into a productive bench player before league compiled any kind of book on him. He also bats left-handed.

Dennis Phipps, OF (AAA)

Pre-season composite prospect ranking: 21.33

Current line: .171/.252/.314

40 man?: YES

Phipps hasn't hit at all so far, so it's not much easier to imagine him being called up than any of the AA guys. He is on the 40-man roster and followed a great 2011 with a spring that impressed the club. He's also capable of playing CF, so he could step in as a back-up if Heisey or Stubbs went down.

Daniel Dorn, LF/1B (AAA)

Pre-season composite prospect ranking: n/a

Current line: .290/.294/.422

40 man?: NO

Dorn is here strictly for his ability to hit righties. His splits have been dramatic throughout his career and his .857 OPS vs. righties so far this season is holding the line. If the Reds wanted to stay in-house and construct a proper LF platoon, Dorn is really the only option in Louisville.

Josh Fellhauer, RF (AA)

Pre-season composite prospect ranking: n/a

Current line: .327/.441/.347

40 man?: NO

Fellhauer has also been killing righties. His relative age at AA makes his success suspect, but the other way to spin it is that he's polished and mature. The Reds' outfield has been a mess offensively, so it's worth considering all options.

Cody Puckett, OF/2B (SS)

Pre-season composite prospect ranking: n/a

Current line: .296/.418/.432

40 man?: NO

Puckett is a similar idea to Fellhauer - both players are in the 24-25 range, have defensive chops in the outfield and have shown an ability to get on base. They might be grossly over-matched in the bigs, but that can often be said of more than one of the Reds' current outfielders.


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