Cincinnati Reds’ Organization Loaded With Quality Shortstops


For years after the retirement of Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, the Cincinnati Reds had a great deal of trouble finding a permanent replacement at shortstop. Zack Cozart eventually settled into the role in 2012, but in the eight-year gap between Larkin’s retirement after the 2004 season and Cozart’s emergence, the club went through many different shortstops.

Here are the Opening Day starters at the position between the time Larkin retired and Cozart took over full-time: Rich Aurilia, Felipe Lopez, Alex Gonzalez, Jeff Keppinger, Orlando Cabrera, and Paul Janish. That’s six different shortstops in seven seasons. Of the players on that list, only Gonzalez started more than one Opening Day as the Reds’ shortstop.

For further evidence of the constant turnover the Reds have had there over the years, take a gander at the list of double play partners that Brandon Phillips has had in his time as the Cincinnati second baseman. Since being traded to the Reds in 2006, Phillips has played alongside 28 (!) different shortstops, which is an utterly unbelievable number.

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After all those years of searching for a long-term solution at the position, the organization is now rich with shortstops. Cozart has become one of the best defensive middle infielders in baseball and before his injury in June, was having a breakthrough offensive season. His replacement, Eugenio Suarez, has had a rough go of things in the field, but has more than made up for Cozart’s absence with his bat. The job will likely be Cozart’s in 2016, though Suarez is going to make it tough for Bryan Price (or whoever the manager is next year) to keep him out of the lineup.

The shortstop depth doesn’t end there. Per, the Reds have two shortstops among their top 10 prospects in Alex Blandino (No. 7) and Blake Trahan (No. 8). Another, Carlton Daal, is ranked at No. 29.

Blandino was drafted with the 29th pick in the 2014 draft out of Stanford and has briskly worked his way through the Reds farm system, currently playing in Double-A Pensacola after earning a call-up last week. Overall, the 22-year-old is hitting .293/.374/.448 with 30 extra-base hits, including nine home runs, in 2015. Per his MLB Pipeline profile, Blandino has advanced approach with the bat and his “willingness to draw walks and get on base” will help him get to the majors quickly.

Trahan, the Reds’ third-round (84th overall) pick in June, is getting his feet wet in rookie ball with the Billings Mustangs. Some felt he could sneak into the first round of the draft, but the Reds got great value in the third round when he fell into their lap. The Louisiana-Lafayette product has hit .306/.382/.390 with five doubles, three triples, one home run, 14 RBI, and six steals through the first 41 games of his professional career. Trahan’s top skill is his speed, as he stole 45 bases in his three years in college.

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Daal, a Curacao native who signed with the Reds on his 19th birthday in 2012, is currently in High-A Daytona. The 22-year-old is a bit more unpolished than Blandino and Trahan, but could eventually become a big league shortstop if he can “physically mature,” according to MLB Pipeline. Daal is hitting .263/.303/.280 with six doubles, 29 RBI, and 19 steals this season.

Obviously, not all of these players will wind up playing shortstop at the big league level. Either Cozart or Suarez figure to be the shortstop of the future at this point, but both Blandino and Trahan have experience all around the infield, meaning they could make a home at another position if shortstop is occupied when they’re ready to take the jump to the majors. Daal figures to be more of a project, though he could provide some depth at the position down the road.

While the Reds may lack depth in other areas when it comes to position players, shortstop looks to be one of their strongest positions. And after years of the spot being nothing more than a revolving door of players, it has to be a pleasant sight to see for Reds fans.

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