The Cincinnati Reds have made a bevy of roster moves over the past few days. We've seen Riley O'Brien optioned to Triple-A, and a handful of players on the 40-man roster transferred from major league camp to minor league camp.
With only 10 days remaining until Opening Day, the Reds coaching staff is really beginning to put some of the players under the microscope. There's one non-roster invitee who hasn't received a lot of attention, but could easily sneak onto the Reds Opening Day roster.
No, I'm not talking about Jake Bauers, even though the outfielder has played well in Cactus League games thus far. And I'm not even suggesting it's Nick Lodolo, even though it's looking more and more likely that the Reds No. 2 overall prospect will be in the Cincinnati starting rotation.
Reds non-roster invitee Phillip Diehl has been impressive this spring.
Despite the fact he was part of the organization last season, Phillip Diehl is probably a name that very few Cincinnati Reds fans have heard. The former 27th-round draft pick is actually a native of the Queen City and was claimed off waivers last spring from the Colorado Rockies. Diehl was quickly outrighted to Triple-A Louisville where he remained for the entire 2021 season.
I was honestly very surprised that the Reds never called Diehl up to the big leagues in 2021. The left-hander made 58 appearances for the Louisville Bats last season and recorded 71 punch outs over 54.2 innings of work. Diehl posted a 2.47 ERA and a 3.73 FIP. Opposing lefties only touched up Diehl for a .197 batting average against last season at Triple-A Louisville.
That 33% strikeout-rate will play all day, as will the very minuscule 5.6% walk-rate. Now, Diehl was victimized by the home run last season, as he watched nine balls leave the yard and posted a 1.48 HR/9.
Diehl is not a high velocity guy, but his fastball/ slider combo is enough to keep opposing hitters off balance. Diehl has yet to allow an earned run this spring. In three appearances out of the Cincinnati bullpen, Diehl has allowed three hits while striking out two batters and walking one.
Phillip Diehl is the only left-handed pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen outside of Justin Wilson. I can't imagine, especially with expanded rosters heading into the 2022 season, that David Bell will have just one southpaw on his Opening Day roster.
The possibility exists for Reiver Sanmartin to be part of the Reds relief corps as well, but with Luis Castillo and Mike Minor likely to miss the start of the regular season, it's looking more and more likely that Sanmartin begins the season as part of the Cincinnati starting rotation.
Given his above-average production and the lack of left-handed relievers, Phillip Diehl has a real shot of making the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. Instead of 26 players, each team can select 28 players to be part of the roster through May 1st. If Diehl keeps recording outs this spring, he should be part of the 28-man roster when play begins on April 7th in Atlanta.