3 players on the Reds minor league spring training roster who'll make some noise

Cincinnati Reds Brandon Bailey (55) poses during media day.
Cincinnati Reds Brandon Bailey (55) poses during media day. / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Several Cincinnati Reds minor league players have descended on Arizona and have been in camp for the past few days. While Major League Baseball owners have locked out the everyone on the team's 40-man roster, the Reds still have 50-plus players who are currently at the team's facility in Goodyear.

Several of those players have invites to major league spring training once the owners and the Player's Association figure things out. After back-to-back days of civil meetings between the two parties in Florida, perhaps we're closer to a new collective bargaining agreement than we thought.

Regardless of when things are worked out between the MLBPA and the owners, the Reds will still have a handful of players who are currently at minor league spring training who'll make some noise and possibly make a run at the Opening Day roster.

Last year, we saw Brandon Finnegan elevated from the minor league spring training roster to major league spring training roster only to fall short of making the team. Which three players might enjoy similar success this spring?

1. Brandon Bailey, Cincinnati Reds pitcher

Given how awful the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day bullpen was last season, had Brandon Bailey been healthy, I believe he would have made the club. Unfortunately, an elbow injury sidelined the former Houston Astros' prospect and Bailey underwent Tommy John surgery almost one year ago.

This is the second time that Bailey has undergone the procedure, as Tommy John surgery forced the right-hander to miss his final season in high school after tearing his UCL during the summer between his junior and senior year at Broomfield High School in Colorado.

If Brandon Bailey is fully healthy, I think he has an outside chance to make a run at the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. Being that he's not yet a year removed from the surgery, the jury is still out on whether or not the 26-year-old will be ready come March 31st.

That said, Bailey has taken to his social media account several times over the offseason, and after posting an emotionally charged video back in January of the Colorado native hitting 90-plus MPH, I sure as heck wouldn't bet against him. Should Brandon Bailey make the Reds Opening Day roster, it would be quite the feat. But just being in spring camp is worthy of applause.

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Joel Kuhnel (66) stands for a portrait.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Joel Kuhnel (66) stands for a portrait. / Kareem Elgazzar / USA TODAY NETWORK

2. Joel Kuhnel, Cincinnati Reds pitcher

When you talk about overcoming adversity, few players on the Cincinnati Reds minor league spring training roster stick out more than Joel Kuhnel. The right-hander underwent shoulder surgery in October of 2020 and spent all last season rehabbing in Arizona.

Kuhnel debuted for the Reds in 2019 and overwhelmed opposing batters at the plate. The flamethrower looked like a keeper Kuhnel dismissed batters left and right during his stint in the minors that season, posting a combined ERA of 2.19 at both Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville.

After losing Michael Lorenzen, and likely Mychal Givens, to free agency, as well as Tejay Antone to injury, the Cincinnati Reds bullpen is lacking late-inning stopper. Kuhnel could be that guy if he's able to return to form.

Kuhnel just turned 27 years old a few days ago, and if that fastball/ slider combination is as good in 2022 as it was in 2019, he'll be in the mix for a role in the Reds bullpen. In 2019, outside of a 14-0 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in which Kuhnel surrendered four earned runs, the right-hander allowed just one run in 9.1 innings of work.

Joel Kuhnel appeared in three games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, the right-hander was pushing through shoulder discomfort just to get on the field. Now fully healthy, Kuhnel has a great opportunity to land a spot in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen.

NC State Wolfpack infielder Jose Torres (8) celebrates.
NC State Wolfpack infielder Jose Torres (8) celebrates. / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

3. Jose Torres, Cincinnati Reds shortstop

This may seem like an odd selection, and in no way am I suggesting that a successful spring camp will result in Jose Torres making the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. But it is an opportunity for last year's third-round draft pick to assert himself in the Reds farm system.

Torres was a bit of an under-the-radar selection in 2021, but the former NC State standout is probably the most MLB-ready shortstop prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization outside of Jose Barrero. Torres has quick hands and could step onto a major league field today and play the position defensively.

Of course having just drafted Torres last year, the Reds will likely see the 22-year-old make his 2022 debut at High-A Dayton. Torres spent last season at Low-A Daytona and hit .337/.383/.568 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 25 games.

Torres is currently the Reds No. 22 rated prospect per MLB Pipeline and if he develops as many scouts believe he can, Cincinnati may have a diamond in the rough. This will be Torres' chance to prove that he has the chops to play against some the Reds upper-level competition.

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The Cincinnati Reds also have Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, and Leonardo Rivas in camp. A solid showing at the plate during minor league spring training will go a long way toward Jose Torres promoting through the farm system as one of the franchise's top shortstop prospects.