Cincinnati Reds: Projecting Triple-A Louisville Bats’ starting lineup

Scenes from the Louisville Bats opening night at Louisville Slugger Stadium.
Scenes from the Louisville Bats opening night at Louisville Slugger Stadium. /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
3 of 4
Next
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Mark Payton (34) catches a fly ball.
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Mark Payton (34) catches a fly ball in the second inning of the Reds scrimmage. /

Louisville Bats starting outfield (3)

Aristides Aquino (LF), TJ Friedl (CF), Mark Payton (RF)

Projecting this year’s starting outfield for the Louisville Bats will be quite the task. The Cincinnati Reds have a bevy of talented outfielders on their 40-man roster, and there’s a non-roster invitee who could crash the party and earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. Some of these names might surprise you, but all of the players listed have the chance to get the bigs this season as well.

A lot of fans think that Aristides Aquino will be on the Reds 26-man roster come April 1st, and he may well. But, The Punisher hasn’t mimicked his production we saw from August of 2019 and I think Aquino needs more time in the minors to get regular at-bats. Riding the pine and grabbing a pinch hit opportunity every three days is not going to help his development.

TJ Friedl seems to have been with the Cincinnati organization forever. Twice, the Reds left Friedl unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft, and no other team has taken a flyer on him. Friedl is a versatile outfielder who projects as a fourth outfielder in the majors. With the quartet of Nick Senzel, Shogo Akiyama, Nick Castellanos, and Jesse Winker, the Reds outfield is a bit crowded at the moment.

Finally, look for Mark Payton to open the season on the Louisville Bats roster, but he could quickly ascend to the bigs and play a key role for the Reds this season. Payton has had an exceptional spring and could give Cincinnati a left-handed bench bat as the season stretches into the summer.

A few other players who have the chance to start in the Bats’ outfield are Dwight Smith Jr. and Scott Heineman. Smith, the son of former major leaguer Dwight Smith Sr., has a patient approach as the plate, but lacks power. Heineman is the exact opposite; a powerful swinger without much plate discipline. Heineman, who can play first base as well, could open the season in Cincinnati.