Who’s Going to be the Last to Make the Team?


The Reds roster for the 2011 is pretty much defined. A few small questions like who will be left out of the pitching rotation, who plays more at SS, who plays the most in LF, and who makes the spot as the last guy off the bench.
So who will be the last man to make the 25 man roster?

John Fay of Cincinnati.com wrote earlier today that there are 6 players who have a chance. Those six are: Juan Francisco, Chris Valaika, Yonder Alonso, Chris Heisey, Jeremy Hermida, and Todd Frazier.

Juan Francisco: Francisco has as much power as anyone in the organization. He is a third baseman, and Rolen will need a backup to play about 40-45 games this season. Unfortunately for Francisco, Jocketty has said that Cairo will once again play there, and Edgar Renteria may also get time there. That leaves little room for Francisco to play in the field, but the Reds do need another left handed bat off the bench. Serious questions still remain though about his plate discipline, fielding, and contact hitting. Prediction: AAA.

Chris Valaika: Valaika faired well for the Reds at the end of 2010. He can play many positions in the infield, and Dusty Baker has repeatedly praised the work ethic of Valaika. However, the infield remains crowded, and Valaika may be better served to keep improving at AAA than play sparingly off the big league club’s bench. Prediction: AAA.

Yonder Alonso: Alonso can hit, and other teams know that. Alonso is also blocked by Joey Votto at first base, the only position Alonso can play. Alonso needs to keep improving, and he is not going to do that on the Major League bench. If he continues to improve and rake at AAA, he may be the team’s best trading chip if they choose to make a move at the Trade Deadline. If Alonso is hitting .320 mid-summer his value may never be higher. Prediction: AAA all season barring a Votto injury.

Jeremy Hermida: Hermida has two things going for him. He bats left handed and plays in the outfield which is not as crowded as the infield. Hermida was given an invite to Spring Training. He is not as young as the other players competing for this spot. If Hermida does not make the team out of Spring Training, it is likely he will be needed at some point to fill in for the big league club. Prediction: AAA until he is needed.

Chris Heisey: Heisey is a blue-collar, hard-working guy helped the Reds tremendously at times in 2010. He was the 2009 Minor League Player of the Year for the Reds. He can hit the ball to all fields with some pop as well. He got good experience last year, and though it is a long-shot, he may have a chance to get serious playing time in left field with a great Spring Training. He may not bat left handed but he is probably the best hitter (and pinch hitter) of the group right now. Prediction: MLB club.

Todd Frazier: Frazier only hit .258 in AAA in 2010, but he hit 17 home runs and 66 RBI’s. In 2009, his batting average was up around .300. It remains to be seen whether that drop in batting average is a cause for concern. Frazier is a good fielder at 1B/3B/LF which gives him value to any organization. If Frazier can get the batting average back up in 2011 and have a good Spring then Frazier will move up the organization depth chart. Right now, he is probably the least likely of the 6 in start in the majors. Prediction: AAA