The Cincinnati Reds had pretty comfortably settled on their MiLB franchises over the last few years. Since moving their AA affiliate to Pensacola from Carolina prior to the 2012 season, the lone shake-up came when the club left the crumbling facilities in Bakersfield to begin a new advanced A-ball partnership in the Florida State League with Daytona three seasons ago.
That, though, appears to be changing.
The Reds won’t be vacating any current affiliate, however; rather, they’ll be picking up an additional one, as it seems they’ll add a short season Appalachian League squad in Greeneville, Tennessee, according to Baseball America. Similar in stature to the Pioneer League and the Billings Mustangs, the Appy League and Greeneville operate as rookie league ball, and as The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan relayed yesterday, the Reds will likely slot Greeneville just below Billings on their MiLB hierarchy.
That brings the total number of MiLB teams in the system to nine, but before you walk away thinking that’s groundbreaking, know that some franchises field as many as ten MiLB clubs each year.
In other news, the Chicago Cubs claimed RHP Luke Farrell off waivers from the Reds yesterday, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes. Sheldon’s blurb also includes that Asher Wojciechowski, Alejandro Chacin, and Nick Travieso were also outrighted off the 40-man roster, meaning they cleared waivers prior to being punted. I suppose it’s not a surprise to see Wojo and Chacin clear, but Travieso - a former 1st round pick - being booted is a little more eye-catching. Of course, he didn’t pitch at all in 2017 and underwent major shoulder surgery, so he’s not exactly a prime candidate to be claimed by anyone at the moment for many of the same reasons he’s not a good candidate to eat up a valuable 40-man roster spot for the Reds right now.
That leaves the 40-man currently with 36 players on the roster, although both Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan remain on the 60-day DL with team control and will need to be added back to the roster after the completion of the World Series. With a handful of players needing to be added prior to the Rule 5 Draft in the coming months (Shed Long, Alex Blandino, Zach Weiss, and Jose Siri among the leading candidates), this won’t be the last time you’ll see the Reds doing some roster manipulation.
FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen was in Arizona to scout instructional games earlier this week, and he managed to catch a game pitched by uberprospect Hunter Greene. Greene got hit hard, though, despite flashing a fastball that repeatedly hit 101 mph, but it seems that another young Cincinnati draftee - Jeter Downs - caught the prospect maven’s eye in a very positive way.
Also from FanGraphs this week: Jeff Sullivan with a look at which lineups improved the most between last year and this year, with the Reds showing incredibly positive improvement year over year in both team wRC+ and - perhaps more importantly - team BB%. When we repeatedly talk about 2017 having been used as a platform year in the rebuild, it’s in statistics like this where that shows itself in a much more important way than in the win/loss columns.
Finally, The Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans noted that the Reds had GM Dick Williams in attendance in Japan to scout superstar Shohei Ohtani’s final pitching start of the season, a clear indication that the Reds - like most every other team in baseball - is interested in signing the incredible two-way talent. Rosecrans outlines quite intricately the hoops the Reds would have to jump through to sign him given the new restrictions placed on international signees, but the gist of the situation is this: the Reds can’t offer him a ton of money, but since Ohtani wants to be signed now instead of years down the road, his age prevents any team from really breaking the bank to sign him. Ergo, if initial money and contracts aren’t what he’s looking for, the Reds should still have about as good a chance to sign him as another other non-DH team out there.