The Reds have several talented players who need more playing time.
Oftentimes, in any sport, veteran players are given preferred playing time over rookies and younger players. That’s just the nature of the business. However, several of the Cincinnati Reds younger players have proven that they belong and deserve a bigger role next season.
Heading into the 2021 season, Jonathan India took what he learned at the alternate site in 2020 and applied to his work on the field during spring training. His hard work and determination paid off, and India is likely to take home the NL Rookie of the Year trophy.
Lucas Sims is another name that comes to mind. After watching Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, and Amir Garrett get the lion’s share of high-leverage opportunities during the 2020 season, Sims was given the chance to succeed when it mattered most. The right-hander didn’t disappoint and posted the highest FIP (2.99) among relievers with 30 or more innings of work this season.
So which players on Cincinnati’s roster need more opportunities to succeed in 2022? Some names you’ll know, others you might not, and at least one might surprise you.
1. Tyler Stephenson, Reds catcher
This one is a no-brainer. Technically, Tyler Stephenson appeared in more games (130) than Tucker Barnhart (115) this season. But, many of those appearances were either as a pinch hitter or playing first base in place of the injured or resting Joey Votto.
Whether or not the Reds pick up Barnhart’s team-option is irrelevant. Stephenson needs to Cincinnati’s starting catcher. Period! The 24-year-old has proven himself more than capable, and the right-handed hitting Stephenson has the opportunity to bring something to the table that few teams have; an offensive-minded catcher who can field his position adequately.
Will Stephenson win multiple Gold Gloves like Barnhart? That remains to be seen. Will Stephenson take home a few Silver Slugger Awards? That, I can promise you, will most certainly be the case. Stephenson has the potential to the the best hitting catcher in the league.
Tyler Stephenson hits for power, hits for average, and can more than handle the rigors of suiting up behind the dish. Stephenson was responsible for 3 defensive runs saved (DRS) over 571.1 innings. Surprisingly, Barnhart logged 0 DRS in 838 innings. It’s Tyler Stephenson’s time to shine.