Cincinnati Reds Week in Review March 6, 2016


Baseball is officially under way and we have even spotted Cincinnati Reds victories. One week of Spring Training down and the Reds are 3-2-1 so far. Hey, we all know this is just Cactus League Baseball, but winning is contagious. That’s the most important thing this year, is getting this unit playing together and getting used to winning together.


Outfielder Jake Cave has been making the most of Billy Hamilton being out with shoulder discomfort. Cave, 23, was taken by the Reds from the Yankees in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. After his first week of playing in Red, he’s hitting .417 and was able to get on base six times in 12 plate appearances. Cave is in the mold of another Yankees outfielder, Brett Gardner. Hits left handed, hustles like Pete, and just gets on base. After four minor-league seasons of .285 average and .346 OBP, Batcave might just be ready to take over lead off and center field for the 2016 Cincinnati Reds.

Johnny Cueto turned Brandon Finnegan has been nothing but outstanding. Finnegan has pitched in three innings over two games and hasn’t allowed a run. He is poised out there and locked in already. From the looks of it, he sees the Reds rotation as an opportunity and he will not back down from any hitter in his way to be named in the starting rotation. If Finnegan starts 30+ games for the Reds and shows signs of a top-two rotation mate, the Cueto trade will go down as a huge win for the organization.

Eugenio Suarez is your starting third baseman. Eugenio Suarez is taking it seriously. Eugenio Suarez is knocking the cover off the ball. We all know it’s only one week, but hitting .625 with three doubles, one HR, three RBI, and swiping a base is a nicely rounded week for a guy supposed to be taking over for an All-Star fan favorite. Suarez has the quickest wrists on the team and this may be his breakout year, being penciled in as a starter from Game 1 of the season.

2013 number one draft pick Phil Ervin, come on down! Where has this guy been since being drafted? Ervin had a great 2013, sputtered in 2014, and had an up-and-down 2015, showing glimpses of greatness in between what-in-the-world-was-he-swinging-at at-bats. But the guy is a player, reminding everyone of Kirby Puckett with his center field skills and wheels. But is he the Cape Cod hitting machine or a missed draft pick? This week Ervin has also garnered some extra time due to Billy Hamilton’s ailing shoulder. Ervin has slammed two HR while hitting .636, driving in three runs, and swiping a base. Ervin won’t be on the big league roster Opening Day, but with a good year split between AA and AAA this season, Ervin might force his way into the starting lineup in 2017.

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Scott Schebler who this week started out extremely hot, homering and literally winning a game with an amazing catch in left field with the bases loaded. Schebler might be the sleeper of the Todd Frazier trade because he drives the ball well and looks great when he’s comfortable. But what is Bryan Price‘s great idea? Let’s try Schebler in center field. You can ask any scout and they will tell you that Schebler is a corner outfielder whose arm limits him to left field. Why, you ask, is Bryan Price trying him in center field? Because he is trying to fit both bats of Adam Duvall (.400/.400/.500 with 1 Double & 2 RBI) and Schebler (.222/.300/.667 with 1 HR & 1 Double) in the same lineup.

This absolutely makes zero sense as everyone in baseball knows Schebler is a left fielder. The odd thing is that Duvall has more time in the minors at third base (417) than he does in left field (26). While Duvall is no Brooks Robinson at the hot corner, a scout I talked to said he would be as good as Frazier was at 3B with enough time. The reason this is an issue for the front office brain trust is that Walt Jocketty has already named Eugenio Suarez the starting third baseman, back on December 16th.

See how awesome it is to name a starting position player who has only three games of experience there and giving yourself zero flexibility? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to get Schebler, Duvall, AND Suarez all in the same lineup? All three have a shot at chipping in 25+ HR apiece. Add that to Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Devin Mesoraco all slamming 25+ dingers and you have quite the powerhouse. Count that up and the Reds could have six 25+ home run hitters in the same lineup.

Welcome to Jocketty/Price Ball 2016.

Let’s hope Price sees the obvious way the puzzle pieces can all fit together and parks Eugenio Suarez at shortstop. Remember when he was supposed to be the Reds shortstop of the future ever since being acquired last off-season for Alfredo Simon? After Price has that moment of clarity, Schebler in left field and Duvall at third base fit nicely.