Cincinnati Reds: Arizona Fall League prospects benefiting

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 24: Billy Hamilton /

The Cincinnati Reds’ youth

The Cincinnati Reds have been bad for a while. They have gone the route of the rebuild to craft a better future. One that is sustainable and not year to year. The team has set their sights on player development. With that said, this franchise has overhauled in that category. The Reds have gone from a mediocre farm system to one of the best.

Furthermore, the progressing of the young guys will factor as to their next competitive window. The club has another year or two of that. The rotation is one of the most vital cogs of this team. But, the starting five has plenty to work on. The offense in 2017 was a pleasant surprise, so the pitching side just needs improving in the run prevention department.

The Reds have a plethora of talent that is close to the Major leagues. They must not be rushed up to the MLB though. The team would be smart to take their time on these guys, as Cincinnati isn’t really close to contention.  On a positive note, there are plenty of young pitchers to choose from next season. With an abundance of road bumps to encounter, the Reds can only try guys out and see who fits.

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The Arizona Fall League

Hungry for more baseball after the World Series? Well, that’s partly what the Arizona Fall League‘s purpose is. The other reason is that it gives minor leagues players/guys close to the MLB to improve their skills and gain experience before the offseason. For a rebuilding club, that’s a big help. They can further evaluate those players there.

More from Reds Prospects

For the Reds, they have several players there now. Specifically 7 main guys, with 4 pitchers and 3 position players, plus a catcher. On the pitching side, they’re doing alright. Brennan Bernadino has done his share for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Albeit 10.1 innings of work, the left-hander has a 0.90 ERA with 7 strikeouts. In minors this year, the southpaw pitched to a 4.46 ERA in 40.1 innings.

Also, righthander Jake Ehret has tossed a 1.74 ERA in 10.1 innings. Yes, it is a very small sample size, but he still has shown improvement.

In the minors in 2017, he threw a bloated 7.62 ERA in 40.1 innings. There is still evidence that the AFL is a benefit. If there is an availability to play, let the guys do it. For the most part, the pitching side is being helped out.

Offensive improvement

I wrote about Taylor Sparks several weeks ago when the AFL announcement happened. His summary was one of blandness. He looked like a one-sided player with a limited ceiling. But, he has improved his stock with a strong performance in Arizona. Sparks isn’t viewed as a top prospect but has put good at-bats on.

The right-handed hitter has homered 4 times with a .274 batting average and has knocked in 15 RBIs. That has been in 19 games. Sparks has not hit higher than .226 in MiLB action. That’s in 51 games not counting the AFL last year. Also, he has only clubbed 9 home runs in those games. Sending him to Arizona was a smart idea, as he is doing well.

The Reds made an intelligent decision for a couple guys. The other players sent may find their niche. But at the very least, they added more experience under their belt. The front office now has some guys to possibly bring to Spring Training in 2018. The competition will be increased for a team that has plenty of time to experiment.

Next: Where is Billy Hamilton headed?

Overall outlook

The Cincinnati Reds have improved their young organization over time. They have aided themselves in the player department through trades, international signings, and the draft. Sending these players who needed a little more polishing has benefited. That will help them search out guys who are ready, and who are not for an audition.