3 Reds who’ve made the biggest statements this spring

Cincinnati Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos (2) attempt to leg out a ground ball.
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos (2) attempt to leg out a ground ball. /
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Cincinnati Reds outfielder Mark Payton (34) catches a fly ball during outfield drills.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Mark Payton (34) catches a fly ball during outfield drills. /

The Cincinnati Reds are a little more than a week away from starting the 2021 season, and several players have played well this spring. However, a select few have used the spring to make a bold statement that they’re ready to make lasting impression this season.

Last year’s stats are a bit skewed due to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down Cactus League play midway through the spring. However, taking a look back at 2019, Phillip Ervin was a standout for Cincinnati. The right-handed hitting outfielder slashed .341/.438/.780, and though he didn’t make the Opening Day roster, Ervin played a role on that year’s team.

Scott Schebler also took the opportunity and ran with it. Coming into camp in 2019, Schebler’s standing with the team was in question, but a strong showing that spring (.342/.490/.579) helped him secure a starting spot in the team’s outfield over top prospect Nick Senzel. Schebler’s season, unfortunately, fell apart after the first month and he was relegated to Triple-A for the rest of 2019.

So who’s followed in Ervin and Schebler’s footsteps this spring? Have they done enough to warrant a spot on the 26-man roster, or at least be one of the first call-ups of the 2021 season? Which three Reds have made a statement this spring?

Mark Payton, Reds outfielder

If you haven’t been watching, then you’ve missed a fantastic performance from Mark Payton this spring. The Illinois native leads the Reds in OPS (1.267) this spring and has seven RBIs in 24 at-bats. Payton, a Rule 5 draft pick of the Reds in 2019, was eventually sent back to the Oakland A’s, only to find his way back to the Queen City via trade last season.

Payton had yet to make his big league debut until 2020 and appeared in eight games for Cincinnati last year. Payton collected his first major league hit, a double on August 25th versus the Milwaukee Brewers.

Mark Payton is a versatile outfielder who has an outside chance to make the Opening Day roster. The 29-year-old has a minor-league option remaining, so it’s possible that he gets beat out by Aristides Aquino or Tyler Naquin.

Look for Payton to receive a call-up sometime this season. His versatility and left-handed power will likely see him yo-yo between Triple-A Louisville and the big league club this season, but there’s an outside chance he breaks camp with the Reds.