Jose Peraza's getting a lot of the press for the Reds, as he's the biggest name the Reds received for trading Todd Frazier. But, there were other pieces involved, and they deserve varying amounts of our attention.
I'll never not want to spell this Scott "Schleber," and might err on that a few times in this very piece. Take that as a trigger warning, if you will.
MLB.com has slotted Schebler into #13 on their top 30 for the Reds, just behind 2013 first round pick Phil Ervin. Our friends at True Blue LA had Schebler slotted him in at #10 in the Dodgers system.
A 26th-rounder out of Des Moines Area CC in 2010, Schebler took a $300,000 bonus at the signing deadline and was one of the Dodgers' most productive hitting prospects until he was shipped to the Cincinnati Reds in the three-team deal that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox. Schebler led his leagues in extra-base hits and total bases for two years in a row and made his big league debut in 2015.
Scouts don't fully buy into Schebler because they think he succeeds more with strength than bat speed. However, he keeps finding a way to make consistent hard contact and has gotten better at controlling the strike zone. He has solid speed as well, though he's not much of a basestealer.
Schebler's jumps and routes in the outfield leave something to be desired, so he's better suited for a corner. His below-average arm relegates him to left field, but his bat still gives him the upside of a big league regular there.
There certainly isn't a lot of prospect sheen for the 25 year old left hander, but he's been solid at almost every level (though his AAA stop in the PCL was a bit disappointing). He'll almost certainly factor into the Reds outfield situation next year, possibly as a platoon bat for Adam Duvall in left field or, best case, he'll take the position over himself.
MLB.com does have this promising write up from Bernie Pleskoff, detailing how athletic and strong Schebler is, but it was written a year ago. However, it's encouraging inasmuch as he seems capable of being able to refine the details of his game. The main concern were his strikeouts, but there's a sense that, as you've read above, he's gotten better in that area.
For instance, Dustin Nosler at Dodgers Digest puts it this way:
Despite a drop in production at Triple-A, Schebler was still able to improve his walk rate by 0.2 percent and dropped his strikeout rate by 0.4 percent. He's settling into the kind of hitter he's going to be at the next level — corner outfielder with mid-to-high-.700s OPS with at least average speed, can take a walk every once in awhile and not strike out enough to cause much concern. He'll probably hit at least .250 in the majors, but batting average doesn't mean a whole lot anymore.
Holy poor man's Jay Bruce, Batman. Or, at least, poor man's who-Jay-Bruce-is-now.
Schebler made the most of his big league cup of coffee in 2015, mashing a 444 foot home run off of James Shields and OPSing .825 in just 40 plate appearances. It means basically nothing, but he's surely going to get the opportunity to show if he can replicate something similar with Cincinnati in 2016. He starts mashing massive home runs, and the Reds fans in attendance will get a fond reminder of what is happening on the south side of Chicago.
Dixon is the unknown in this deal. He doesn't rank on any list anywhere, and is the throw-in on this deal. Right now, Dixon seems like organizational depth at most, but he has a bit of upside.
Baseball Prospectus had an eyewitness report in 2014. The overall impression are about what you'd expect.
Dixon is a very good athlete that can make an impact in various facets of the game. His speed is surprising; he gets down the line well and has an extra gear if he needs to turn it on. With better actions at 2nd base (after a move from 3rd) and solid defense from an up-the-middle position, he can provide some value. The problem with Dixon is his bat; I'm not sold he'll ever hit enough to reach the major leagues and make a contribution.
The Reds seem very interested in athletes, regardless of their particular pedigree. Peraza, Schelber, and Dixon are all regarded as very good athletes, even outside of the baseball sense, and the Reds also employ guys like Billy Hamilton and Michael Lorenzen, who could certainly be considered superior *athletes* not in the traditional baseball concept. Tony Cingrani comes to mind, as well, along with Nick Howard.
Dixon was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft out of the University of Arizona. Despite his pedigree from a big time college program he has really struggled as a professional. For his career he has hit just .247/.281/.396. He finally showed some life with the bat in the 2015 season, but it came in his second go-around in the California League as a 23-year-old with a second half spent in Double-A Tulsa. On the bright side, he had 25 doubles, five triples and 19 home runs to go along with 26 steals on a .263/.303/.443 line, though he only hit .244/.272/375 in Double-A. On the down side, he had just 28 walks to go with 144 strikeouts, representing a serious plate approach or pitch recognition issue that doesn't bode well for the future of his bat.
He was sent to the Arizona Fall League following the season and in 66 plate appearances hit .295/.318/.508 with seven extra-base hits, three walks and 15 strikeouts.
The AFL numbers are pretty great, and it tends to be a time where guys with real upside ball out. Then again, Dixon was also nearly a year older than his counterparts, and the only time he'd put number that good was his second go around in a league he was too old for.
The guy was a third round pick for a reason, so there's reason to believe that he's got something. But, his ceiling seems to be just a little bit above Peraza's absolute floor. And that's exactly why he's in this deal; he's a lottery ticket that, with just the right amount of massaging, may become something useful down the road.
The Reds either won or lost this deal. And, it's a declaration that won't be accurately decided for some years down the road. The reality, however, is this is what the Reds got. And, as painful as it is to watch someone like Todd Frazier leave, as good of a player on the field for the Reds as he is a man off the field... it's tough. Todd is, and was, a great player, spokesman, and person.
But that doesn't mean that the new Reds can't be. And it doesn't mean that we should be disappointed that the new Reds aren't Todd Frazier. The Reds were going to be bad in 2016 whether or not Todd Frazier was in a Reds uniform. The most exciting part of watching a rebuild is watching new, young players that you had no idea about blossom into great players that become great people... just like we witnessed with Todd Frazier over the past four years.