The 2023 version of the Cincinnati Reds have a completely different problem than previous last year's team. This Reds team has the type of rising talent that allows them to compete night in and night out. Perhaps too much talent.
The Reds 26-man roster is relatively crowded at the moment. This issue will only become exacerbated as the injured starters begin to return from the IL. There's also another prospect who could soon receive his opportunity as well.
Within the next few days and into next week, the Reds will return Joey Votto, Nick Senzel, Wil Myers, and Jake Fraley. Along with that quartet, Reds fans could see the debut of infield prospect Christian Encarnaction-Strand.
Stuart Fairchild's surge could save his roster spot with injured Reds starters returning.
If my math is right, that leaves the Cincinnati Reds with four, and potentially five, roster spots to open in the near future. With three catchers on the active, perhaps that experiment comes to an end, but there is a trio of young outfielders that could be optioned to Triple-A as well.
Stuart Fairchild, TJ Hopkins, and Jose Barrero will all be on the short list of names that could find their way back to the minors when the likes of Jake Fraley, Nick Senzel, and Wil Myers return.
It's quite likely that at least two of those three mentioned will take the short trip down I-71 to join the Louisville Bats. But Fairchild is hitting much too well recently for the 27-year-old to be among the first one optioned to Triple-A.
Fairchild pummeled two home runs in the recent series sweep of the Kansas City Royals, marking two of his hardest hit baseballs this year. Monday's blast off Royals starter Zach Greinke exited the field of play at over 103 mph according to Baseball Savant. Wednesday's round tripper looked like it was shot out of a cannon at over 105 mph.
After an 0-10 start to June, Stuart Fairchild recorded at least one hit in seven of the next nine games, including each of the last three. Fairchild hasn't been an otherworldly performer for the Cincinnati Reds, but he provides a better defensive option than both Jose Barrero and T.J. Hopkins. That, plus his hot bat, seem to suggest his roster spot is safe for the time being.