Cincinnati Reds in Review: LF/1B Donald Lutz


The first-ever German big leaguer has yet to make his presence felt on the Cincinnati Reds roster. If 2014 wasn’t Donald Lutz’s opportunity, when will it be?

Opportunities will be aplenty come 2015 with little patience left for the current roster to produce, so after two years of toiling down in the minor leagues, Lutz will have his chance to seize his opportunity this upcoming year.

Donald Lutz – Corner Outfielder/First Baseman

It seems safe to say that the Reds have no idea what they have in Lutz. That’s not a knock, but rather a statement to further the fact that nobody really has any idea.

Lutz will be 26 years old when he reports to Spring Training in 2015. To say he has had “parts” of two big leagues seasons would be kind, he’s really just had a smattering of at-bats here and there. As was discussed earlier in our reviews, when Joey Votto went down this season, rather than present Neftali Soto with an opportunity, he was curiously bypassed. The same can be said for Lutz, who the team has used at first base before.

The head scratching continued to later in the year when the three-headed dragon of Chris Heisey, Ryan Ludwick and Skip Schumaker, continued to get playing in September on a consistent basis. Then there was Jason Bourgeois, and oh yeah, Jay Bruce. Somehow, even during a wash of a season, Lutz never got to see the field consistently to prove his worth.

Getting his first taste of Triple-A ball this year, in just under 200 at-bats, Lutz batted only .236. The big German has unlimited power and runs like the quickest of deer, but is susceptible to pitches in the dirt and pitches above his eyes. In 195 at-bats, he struck out 68 times. At the Major League level, in 51 at-bats, he struck out 19 times.

With today’s version of baseball caring less and less about the strikeout, Lutz may find his place if he can begin to make contact a bit more consistently. And there is no better place for a power hitter to hit than Great American Ball Park.

Lutz’s Stat Line:

.176/.222/.255, 51 AB, 4 2B’s, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3 BB-19 K, -0.4 WAR

Top Donald Lutz Moment:

When you collect just nine hits and bat in just a single run all year, this becomes quite the difficult category to select.

For Lutz, his lone two-hit game of the season came during his first start of the season (where he started at first base), on May 27 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He would have a double and a single off starter Zack Greinke, one of the premier pitchers in all of baseball.

His other big moment was the lone run he drove in this past season on September 4 against the Baltimore Orioles. Capping off a huge rally from which the Reds trailed 7-2, Lutz’s RBI single in the top of the seventh knotted the game back up at sevens. Sadly, in the bottom half of the inning, Manny Parra would allow two runs and earn the loss.

Low Point of the Season for Donald Lutz:

After getting four starts in a two-week span at first base at the time of his call up, Lutz would only get one more there for the remainder of the season. It would have been the perfect opportunity to see what the team has in Lutz, rather than delaying the process to 2015.

It’s easy to point at Lutz’s numbers in 2014 and say that he won’t amount to an everyday player, but he played at three separate levels of baseball in a five-month span—that can be pretty difficult to adjust to. On top of that, he is now playing in the Mexican Summer League to stay in shape and get ready for the year.

Final Grade: F

I feel bad handing the big man a F, but I’m not of the ilk that can bypass strikeouts as long as he hits moonshots. For Lutz to see consistent playing time, he’ll have to stop using his bat like a tennis racket and quit chasing pitches he can’t reach.

Even though the Reds are “all-in” this year, I’d still like to see Lutz get some consistent playing time in left field. With Todd Frazier, Brandon Phillips and Devin Mesoraco hopefully all healthy, Lutz’s left-handed power should compliment Jay Bruce’s perfectly. The 26-year-old rookie may pay off after all.