Phipps slides safely into second during the 2nd inning against the Padres at Goodyear Ballpark. (Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE)

Don't Be a Tease, Denis Phipps

Last spring, Reds fans were tantalized by a young outfielder that blistered his way through the Cactus League. This same player would later be cut by the team, but resurfaced with the Reds later in the regular season. You may remember this player as he was part of the trade for Sean Marshall.

Yes, I’m talking about Dave Sappelt.

Sappelt simply lit up pitching last spring to the tune of a slash of .564/.571/.974 with 3 HR and 12 RBI. All of that in only 39 AB over a 20 game stretch. Pretty impressive. Denis Phipps is having himself a productive spring training as well, thank you very much. It may not be on the level of success Sappelt had last spring, but it is still an impressive line.

How’s a slash of .345/.406/.621 with a homer and 3 RBI grab you? He’s provided this on 29 AB over 15 games. Not on the same level of Sappelt, but still not the numbers we may have associated with Phipps.

I remember when Sappelt was cut last spring. There were tweets that called for the youngster to be on the team. The issue was that heading into 2011, Sappelt had only played in 25 games at the Triple-A level. He also had to work on a couple of things including his baserunning skills. Before his promotion in August, Sappelt played in another 74 games.

And now we see potentially the same scenario developing with Phipps. Last year, he played 40 games with Louisville. He needs more reps at the Triple-A level. But we also know that if any of the outfielders struggle (even in the slightest), the calls for a Phipps promotion will ring throughout the Twitterverse…and maybe in print on some level, too. Same occurred last season for the cries of Sappelt…and Zack Cozart (which was warranted).

It’s not a bad thing that the Reds still possess a talented outfielder, but all the spring success can be detrimental if Phipps is not allowed proper time to mature. Outfield is looked at as a position where the Reds organization does run a little thin.

Until last season, Phipps had never hit above .300 for an entire year. He had eclipsed that mark for a level (’06 at Billings and ’10 at Lynchburg). Something finally clicked for Phipps last year as he ended the 2011 season with a slash of .346/.397/.527 with 12 HR and 64 RBI. Having only 40 games of Triple-A experience, I hope he’s allowed more time…with a better end result than we saw last year in regards to Sappelt.

(I know. I know. The Reds didn’t exactly let Sappelt prove himself over a long haul.)

For the 2011 regular season, Sappelt offered little in comparison to his spring as he could only muster a slash of .243/.289/.318 with only 5 RBI in 118 PA in 38 games. If such a call would be made for a promotion of Phipps this season, we have to hold our collective breath. It has nothing to do with Phipps as a player. It would mean that, like in 2011, the Reds have not found an answer for left field and the brass just may be grasping at straws again. Remember last season? Seven different players were penciled in the starting lineup with a “7” after their name.

We know that Phipps could be termed as a “late bloomer” seeing as this year will be his seventh within the Reds organization. Who knows. Phipps could be no worse than the fourth outfielder in 2013.

And maybe that’s a good thing…


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Tags: 2012 Reds Roster Baseball Cincinnati Reds Dave Sappelt Denis Phipps MLB Reds Spring Training

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