There is no Cincinnati Reds baseball today, and for that we are sad.
While we won’t be able to watch the big league squad on the field again this afternoon, we at least get the consolation prize of watching the minor league affiliates put together their own Opening Day rosters. And depending on how invested you are in this long, dark rebuild, looking towards the prospects in the minors might actually be a bit more entertaining.
The AAA Louisville Bats announced their official roster yesterday evening, and our own Cy Schourek took a deeper look into how that particular group would shake out. There’s some definite talent on their roster with the likes of Jesse Winker and Sal Romano both fresh off solid Cactus League play, and both Dilson Herrera and Phil Ervin will also be there, as well.
The top prospect in the Cincinnati system will start his year with the A+ Daytona Tortugas, as Nick Senzel will get his first taste of the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. As the Tortugas’ press release states, 6 of the top 30 prospects from MLB Pipeline’s rankings of the top talent in the Reds’ system will begin with Daytona, including recent high-priced signees from Cuba in Vladimir Gutierrez and Alfredo Rodriguez. 2016 2nd rounder Chris Okey will get the bulk of the catching duties, while the talented Shed Long will start the year back where he finished so strongly in 2016.
The Class A Dayton Dragons will also sport a stacked roster heading into 2017, highlighted by 2016 1st round draftee Taylor Trammell. Trammell lit up the Pioneer League with Billings after being drafted out of high school last year and owns as much upside as any player in the system. Joining him in the OF will be TJ Friedl, and 2015 1st round pick Tyler Stephenson will look to eschew the injury issues that destroyed his 2016 season as the team’s regular catcher. Tony Santillan and his near 100 mph fastball will anchor the team’s pitching staff.
That leaves the Reds’ AA affiliate as the lone squad that has not announced an official roster, but that can largely be figured out by figuring out which prospects of note haven’t yet been included on the other rosters. Doing so suggests the likes of Aristides Aquino, Alex Blandino, Calten Daal, Blake Trahan, Taylor Sparks, and Eric Jagielo will constitute the bulk of the team’s everyday lineup, while Luis Castillo, Keury Mella, Tyler Mahle, Tejay Antone, Jimmy Herget, Ariel Hernandez, and Ismael Guillon will form the core of the pitching staff.
(Notably absent from any of those rosters is Nick Howard, because who honestly knows what the Reds have in store for their former 1st round pick. Isaiah White, who came with Castillo and Austin Brice from Miami in exchange for Dan Straily, is also conspicuously absent given that his low-A time last year suggested that he’d be included on either Dayton or Daytona’s roster. Also absent are Wyatt Strahan and Zack Weiss, as significant elbow injuries will leave them sidelined for the bulk of the year.)
In other news, Doug Gray from RedsMinorLeagues.com has a hunch that we’ll see Devin Mesoraco get some rehab time in Pensacola in the near future. Gray’s thought process stems from some quotes made by Cincinnati GM Dick Williams on a recent FS-Ohio broadcast, and it has some merit - especially when you consider the current catching void on the projected Blue Wahoos lineup. It seems as if that’d be the perfect warm climate to get Mes up to speed before he returns to big league action.
Bronson Arroyo is on the Louisville Bats roster for the time being, but all signs point to him joining to the Reds' rotation for the weekend series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Saturday appears to be his day, as MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports that the 40-year old righty emerged from his 90 pitch simulated game on Sunday in good enough shape to warrant the return to big league action. Personally, I'm not sure if I'm more excited or more terrified of how that start might play out, but you're damn right I'll be watching from the edge of my seat.
If you feel like the early gas you've seen thrown by pitchers has come in a littler hotter than in years prior, you're not wrong. FanGraphs' Dave Cameron has a breakdown of why pitches have seemed to come in faster this year than before, noting importantly that it's not simply because a new breed of fireballers has suddenly found a way to throw balls faster than ever before.
New season, new BAR - The Enquirer's Zach Buchanan has the first Blog Above Replacement ready today, and it chronicles the MLB debut of Barrett Astin, who performed admirably in a big spot in Monday's game.
Finally, poor Joey Votto is currently tied for the least valuable player in baseball, according to fWAR. You just have to wonder if the young man is every going to get it.