Cincinnati Reds: Can Michael Lorenzen play in the outfield?

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 19: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds hits his first career major league home run, a three run home run, during the seventh inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park on August 19, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Los Angeles 9-2. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 19: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds hits his first career major league home run, a three run home run, during the seventh inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park on August 19, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Los Angeles 9-2. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

In the past 5 seasons, the Cincinnati Reds have had a gaping offensive hole in center field. Can Michael Lorenzen fill that void?

This season, an interesting center field candidate has shown up for the Cincinnati Reds. Relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen has 2 home runs in five at-bats this season, along with a walk and a single. That 116.5 mph single had the highest exit velocity of any hit by a Reds batter measured by Statcast. Could Lorenzen really play in the Cincinnati outfield?

Billy Hamilton has been an excellent outfield defender with the Cincinnati Reds. At the plate, however, he has been disastrous. He has a  career .629 OPS and three seasons with an OBP under .300. This has led many to call for a replacement. Scott Schebler can play center but is a natural corner outfielder. Jesse Winker and Adam Duvall have never played a pro game in center field.

Lorenzen’s power surge and Hamilton’s offensive drop brings an interesting question to the table. How can Lorenzen have regular at-bats? Angels player Shohei Ohtani is a designated hitter on days he doesn’t pitch. For obvious reasons, that is not an option here.

Michael Lorenzen has the tools to become Major League Baseball’s next two-way player.

Michael Lorenzen spent three years as the main center fielder for Cal State Fullerton. Although he was known more for his hitting, he was above average at defense as well.

Cincinnati Reds
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

He has not been a position player since 2013, but Lorenzen has the athleticism and drive of a professional outfielder. He works on defense during batting practice to keep himself fresh. Also, has an extreme workout routine that keeps him extremely fit and agile.

The Reds would need to find a way for Lorenzen to pitch and play the field.

Lorenzen has a 1.96 ERA this season and has been a beast in the bullpen. Even if he did play in the field, the Reds would not want to waste his upper 90s fastball.

Luckily, his college team already figured that out. At Cal State, he had 20 pitching appearances. All of those occurred in the 9th inning after he played 8 in the outfield. The only problem with this is that Lorenzen is not a closer.

The easiest solution would be to have Lorenzen start in the field. When a relief pitcher is needed, have him pitch and bring in Hamilton or Schebler to finish the game in center.

Next: Robert Stephenson should replace Matt Harvey if traded

If the front office is looking to move any of the four current outfielders by the trade deadline, Lorenzen could be a fourth outfielder. Even if he doesn’t get playing time every day, his bat could still make a difference if he plays once a week. For now, he is enjoying a .600/.667/1.800 season in 5 ABs, four of them coming as a pinch hitter.