The Reds have made their home in the Florida State League and Daytona Beach in particular for a few years now. Everything seems to be going really well in this relationship so let the good times roll on. Daytona recently announced a partnership with National Pro Fastpitch, a women’s fastpitch softball league, to host the Beijing Shougang Eagles this summer. I am a firm believer that all baseball and softball and everything even remotely related is good, so more of it is always better. It’ll be jam cool.
Returning to the bench for his second year is manager Ricky Gutierrez. Lenny Harris joins his coaching staff as the bench coach, so here’s hoping they empty the roster every game and use everyone available as pinch hitters.
As for the players, plenty of talented young prospects will be wearing turtle hats this summer. The entire organization boasts a plentiful selection of talent, so each and every one of these teams is going to have plenty to pay attention to, but this is about the Tuges and they will have plenty to pay attention to, too. So let’s jam.
The Tuges’ lineup features one of the most exciting prospects in the Reds’ system in Jonathan “Baseballywood” India. He was the no. 5 overall selection in last June’s draft and played in Greeneville, Billings, and Dayton across the season’s final few months. It is notable that he is starting his first full professional season in Daytona and the Florida State League rather than Dayton. Most players of his vintage will likely start in the lower level, and it is a testament to his polish and readiness that the Reds think he can handle the big jump. It’s also worth noting that he grew up in Florida and played his college ball at the University of Florida, so his transition into full-time professional ball will be that much more comfortable for him. Those things matter, if only a little.
Other notable lumbermen starting the season in Daytona are Jose Israel “Wrestles with Grounders” Garcia, Stuart “Good Kid” Fairchild, and Hendrik “My Bloody” Clementina, Garcia, who turns 21 tomorrow (happy birthday, muh dude!), spent last season in Dayton and struggled to hit. It was his first season in American professional baseball after spending more than a year of his most formative time cooling his heels, so he gets plenty of benefit of the doubt for his performance. He played mostly at shortstop and showed what exactly the Reds saw in him that was worth $5 million. His range and arm are superlative, even if his bat is a good ways behind the curve. He has all the tools and I personally believe (whatever that is worth) he will breakout this season, so keep an eye out.
Fairchild split the 2018 season equally between Dayton and Daytona. He was fantastic with Dayton (.277/.377/.460) but not with Daytona (.250/.306/.350) so he will get another shot at the FSL. He is a personal favorite of mine, so you should like him, too.
Clementina came to the Reds from the Dodgers in exchange for Tony Cingrani and he has made a bit of noise since then. He spent the entirety of last season in Dayton and hit an impressive .268/.327/.497 with 41 XBHs. He was fifth in the league with 18 home runs despite playing in only 96 games. His K and BB rates aren’t awful (23% and 8%) so there is reason to believe that he just might be able to sustain this. A cromulent defensive catcher who can slug better than his weight is really something.
Here is where we start talking about Hunter Greene and flagellating ourselves to show God our remorse for our many sins. Greene was the second-overall pick in the 2017 draft and is one of the most talented pitching prospects in all of baseball. He spent the offseason nursing a sore elby bone and trying to avoid Tommy John surgery, but as he started ramping up in Spring Training he tore it awful good. I don’t expect him to pitch again competitively until at least the middle of next season.
This is your intermittent reminder that life is a tragedy, not a comedy.
But fear not, Tuges fans. There are plenty of good and healthy pitchers stepping up to the bump for them this summer. Featured prominently are Packy “turn-of-the-century Irish-American street thug” Naughton, John “definitely not a Sumerian demigod returning in flesh to destroy all humanity” Ghyzel, Ryan “Nah, I ain’t Ted’s boy” Lillie, and “The Grim” Reiver Sanmartin. Naughton pitched a full season for Dayton last year and posted an impressive 4:1 K:BB in 154 innings. Ghyzel is a big ol’ sumbitch with a power arm and very little idea what to do with it. Lillie came over from the Marlins in October in exchange for international bonus pool funds. He pitched in three leagues last year, spending the most time in Greensboro in the low-A Sally League and earning an All-Star nod. He is a polished strikethrower with less-than-amazing stuff, but he gets outs. Sanmartin came to Cincy with Sonny Gray. He is yet another command and control pitcher who does well to avoid issuing walks.
None of these fellas is Hunter Greene, but each is worth watching in his own right. As is the case for pretty much the entire Reds’ system, the bats are better than the arms here. But regardless, Jackie Robinson Field is gonna be a jammin’ place for some baseball this summer.