Cincinnati Reds

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Overview (Present Rank: 28th | Future Rank: 24th)

The Cincinnati Reds haven't proven to be a legitimate World Series contender since winning the 1990 Fall Classic 26 years ago. The Reds inability to build a strong all-around team has plagued the city of Cincinnati for over two decades. Not only do the Bengals own the longest streak in the NFL without a playoff win (25 years), but Cincinnati's Reds have also lasted 20 years without a single playoff series victory. Now in the midst of another rebuild, President Walt Jocketty will have to build the team from the ground up for Cincy to be competitive again. It isn’t a full rebuild in Cincinnati as the team does have the best player to wear a Reds uniform since the “Big Red Machine” won four National League pennants and two World Championships in the 1970’s, Joey Votto.

Joey Votto cemented his legacy as an all-time Reds great when he became just the second player in Cincinnati to win an MVP since 1977 (the other being Barry Larkin in 1995). Votto still has a ways to go to catch Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, or Joe Morgan on the all-time Reds list, but Votto has never benefitted from the surrounding talent that the trio enjoyed during their run in the ‘70’s. After trading away two of Votto’s best teammates in Todd Frazier and Johnny Cueto over the last year, the Reds are beginning what looks to be a long rebuild. However, after strong 2015 seasons from some of the team’s top prospects, the Reds could find themselves as a surprise playoff contender as the decade dwindles down.

 

 

*Detailed analysis conducted April 3, 2016; rankings and charts updated throughout the season.

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Catcher (Present Rank: 18th | Future Rank: 15th)

Devin Mesoraco was supposed to be one of the team’s main building blocks toward a competitive team in the mid-2010’s. Besides a breakout 2014 campaign, Mesoraco has been a major disappointment. The 2007 first round pick (15th overall) was rated a top-20 prospect before his underwhelming rookie season in 2012. Mesoraco certainly has the potential to be an impact player behind the plate, however a hip injury that derailed almost his entire 2015 season prevented evaluators from officially removing the ‘bust’ label that’s been attached to Mesoraco’s name for years. If he can come back healthy in 2016 and prove 2014 was no fluke, that ‘bust’ label will be gone forever while Mesoraco establishes himself as one of the league’s premier catchers.

Behind Mesoraco on the major league depth chart is Tucker Barnhart and Ramon Cabrera, two defensive-minded backup catchers. Despite Mesoraco’s resurgent 2014 season, the Reds went ahead and drafted Tyler Stephenson out of Kennesaw Mountain HS with the 11th overall pick in the draft last year. Stephenson gets praise for his massive size and strong arm. The 19 year-old still needs to develop his game, but if he can reach his potential, the Reds could have another solid starting catcher ready to go by the 2020 season.

Future Outlook: Mesoraco’s injury could open the door for Stephenson

If the Reds had their choice, Devin Mesoraco would live up to the hype and become a top-5 catcher in the MLB. His 2014 season proved that the 28 year-old is capable of doing just that, but missing almost 140 games in 2015 allowed the doubters to reappear. With Mesoraco’s future outlook up in the air (as well as his contract status beyond 2018), the Reds selected Tyler Stephenson with their first round pick in 2015. While Cincinnati is still hoping Mesoraco can return to All-Star form, they are no longer relying on the injury-prone catcher. If Mesoraco hits the disabled list for an extended period of time again, the door could be wide open for Stephenson to emerge as Cincy’s catcher of the future.

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First base (Present Rank: 5th | Future Rank: 17th)

While Joey Votto is already the best player to don a Reds uniform since the “Big Red Machine” days of the 1970’s, he’s also arguably the best player from Canada in history. Larry Walker and Fergie Jenkins are the only two players possibly standing in his way, but Walker will likely never reach the Hall of Fame while Jenkins pitched so long ago, it was normal to throw complete games half the time that pitcher started the game.

After accumulating four All-Star appearances, a Gold Glove, and an MVP award in just eight full seasons, an induction into the Hall of Fame seems Votto-matic. The 32 year-old is one of the most disciplined hitters of this era. He’s already led the league in walks four times and his 143 bases on balls last year was the most in a single-season since 2004 when Barry Bonds got walked a ridiculous 232 times. Votto is one of the game’s best overall players, but his team is far from the best overall team. As Cincinnati continues its rebuild, many are expecting Cincy’s 2002 2nd round pick to be dealt elsewhere as the Reds acquire a package of young players to build their next competitive team around.

Future Outlook: A Votto-matic Hall of Famer

At the rate he’s going, Joey Votto could be a first ballot Hall of Famer five years after he retires. The real question in Cincinnati is whether he will finish his Hall of Fame career in red and white pinstripes. With a rebuilding project at hand, Joey Votto is clearly the team’s most valuable trade asset. Trading him could net Cincy with the young players it needs to turn their team around down the road. Considering Votto’s age (32), he likely won’t make much of an impact by the time the Reds are finally ready to compete in the 2020’s. Because of Votto’s monster 10yr/$225MM contract, he loses value by the day as he gets further and further past his prime. If President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty is going to trade Joey Votto, he should try to get a deal done as soon as he can.

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Second Base (Present Rank: 14th | Future Rank: 8th)

Just five days after the Reds agreed to extend Joey Votto with the biggest contract in franchise history, the team dished out another $72.5MM to keep Brandon Phillips in Cincinnati for six more years. After the duo failed to win a single playoff series together with the Reds, it appeared the duo’s time together was up when the Reds had agreed to trade Phillips to the Nationals. Surprisingly, Phillips used his 10-and-5 rights (10 years of service, 5 years on the same team) to reject being traded to a contender. He reportedly also used his no-trade clause to reject a deal with the D-Backs as well. With those two teams unwilling to give Phillips more guaranteed money to join their team, the Reds are forced to let Phillips play out the rest of his contract in the Great American Ballpark and take valuable at-bats away from Jose Peraza. Unless Phillips changes his mind over the next year, Cincy will keep the four-time Gold Glover on their roster for the next two years as he ages into his upper-30’s.

The Reds front office made a blockbuster trade over the offseason receiving Jose Peraza with the intention of trading the incumbent Phillips away to create playing time for the 22 year-old sensation. After Phillips refused to leave, Peraza is now stuck without a full-time job in 2016. As he continues to get more unneeded seasoning in the minors, the Reds will continue to look for ways to plug Peraza into a starting role. Injuries are inevitable so Peraza will surely get some playing time in 2016 if he himself can stay healthy before Cincinnati shuffles some things around to create a spot for him in the 2017 lineup. The reds are salivating over a potential Peraza/Hamilton combination to leadoff games as the fastest 1-2 punch in baseball. Peraza is also an excellent fielder who can play second base, shortstop, and the outfield.

Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Tony Renda are two other second baseman capable of playing at the major league level; however, both will be limited to utility roles off the bench over their careers. De Jesus Jr. was a solid contributor for the big league club last year while Renda was added in the Aroldis Chapman deal over the offseason.

(EDIT: The Reds acquired 2B Dilson Herrera from the New York Mets along with LHP Max Wotell in exchange for OF Jay Bruce. Herrera now projects to be the team's long-term second baseman moving Peraza back to his natural position at shortstop. Click here to read more about Dilson Herrera who could be the starting second baseman as soon as next season [8/1/16]).

Future Outlook: Peraza intends on stealing the show

Brandon Phillips has been the center of attention in Cincinnati for a while. So the idea of being traded elsewhere wasn’t one he was willing to accept without a lucrative extension coming his way. Phillips might still have control of the second base position in 2016, but Peraza is slowly taking over. Peraza’s mixture of speed, fielding abilities, and excellent contact has Reds fans excited for the future. It may not be in 2016, but soon enough Peraza will be the one that’s stealing the show.

(EDIT: Now that Dilson Herrera is in Cincinnati, it will be Herrera who will be stealing the show while Peraza will bring his electrifying play back to his natural position of shortstop. Acquiring Herrera at the deadline could lead to the Reds dealing away both Phillips and Zack Cozart within the next year to make room for the team's future double-play tandem [8/1/16]).

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Shortstop (Present Rank: 12th | Future Rank: 21st)

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For years Zack Cozart was known as a defense-first shortstop that brought little to the table offensively. However, through the first 53 games of the 2015 season, Cozart was starting to deliver some offensive production. The 30 year-old must have gained some strength over the offseason because he was on pace for a 27 home run season (almost twice as much as his career high 15 in 2012). Unfortunately, a knee injury cut his 2015 season short, and with two years left on his deal, nobody knows what to expect from Cozart in 2016. If Cozart is healthy this season, he should be able to replicate his production from 2015 now that he’s firmly in his prime.

While the team could always insert Jose Peraza at the shortstop position if Cozart hits the disabled list, the team would be short on alternative options if Brandon Phillips is no longer on the team. Down the road the team is counting on Blake Trahan to take over the position, but the 2015 third round pick has serious obstacles in his way before becoming an everyday player. Trahan doesn't have much power to speak of while questionable approaches at the plate seriously limit his hit tool. He could settle in as solid defensive-minded utility player off the bench.

Future Outlook: Cincy will be coasting without Cozart

(EDIT: With the team acquiring Dilson Herrera from the Mets, the future outlook of the shortstop position has changed. With Herrera now preparing himself to be the team's second baseman of the future, Jose Peraza will establish himself as the team's future shortstop. Cozart still has another year of team control after 2016, but the Reds will surely look to trade him over the offseason, especially considering the team almost shipped him to Seattle before the mid-season trade deadline. The Reds could look for outfield help, or a future starting pitcher in any deal for Cozart while they can plug Peraza into the starting role at shortstop as soon as next season [8/1/16]).

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Third Base (Present Rank: 19th | Future Rank: 22nd)

After trading Home Run Derby champion Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox in a three-team blockbuster trade over the offseason, the Reds are hoping Eugenio Suarez can step in and fill the void Frazier left behind. The 24 year-old Suarez had a terrific 2015 campaign filling in for the injured Zack Cozart over the second half of the season. Suarez wasn’t seen as future impact player in his minor league days, but a strong 2015 season has turned some doubters into believers. He likely won’t benefit from a .341 BABIP again in 2016, but he has the power to do some damage going forward.

Two other power hitting third basemen in Cincinnati’s system are Gavin LaValley and Eric Jagielo. The latter receives more attention after headlining the Aroldis Chapman trade over the offseason, but the former could emerge as the more productive player in a few years. Jagielo’s plate discipline and poor contact skills make it hard to project his future outlook any higher than a serviceable, albeit replaceable third baseman.

LaValley on the other hand has the size and presumably equivalent raw power as Jagielo, but gets his hands to the ball quicker in his swing, and is explosive with his follow through. Unfortunately, nobody in Cincinnati’s front office envisions either player being solid fielders, so even if both of them hit their way into the lineup, the team could still be forced to pursue an alternative at third base as LaValley and Jagielo compete for the first base job or are traded elsewhere (likely to an American League team where they can be a fallback DH option).

Future Outlook: Frazier is going...going...gone

Todd Frazier generated a lot of buzz during last year’s All-Star break hosted in Cincinnati. Frazier dropped 39 bombs during the Home Run derby becoming a hometown hero by winning it in front of a sellout crowd in Cincinnati, Ohio. Like the two-time reigning champion before him (Yoenis Cespedes), Frazier was traded within six months of winning the event.

Now that he’s gone, the team is relying on Eugenio Suarez to handle the position, but unless he builds on a strong 2015 campaign, Suarez won't be much of a factor. Eric Jagielo headlined the haul Cincy received for flamethrower Aroldis Chapman over the offseason, but it’s Gavin LaValley that could end up being the better player when it’s all said and done. If none of these young players can establish themselves at the hot corner, the Reds will have to turn to the free agent market for reinforcements.

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Outfield (Present Rank: 22nd | Future Rank: 10th)

All considering, the Reds outfield looks even less promising than their dismal infield. Led by Jay Bruce, the Reds are relying more on potential than production in 2016. Bruce found himself on the trading block over the offseason, but Reds GM Dick Williams and company didn’t find any offers they were comfortable pulling the trigger on. Bruce would have a lot more value on the trade market had he continued his 30+ HR pace from 2011-2013, instead of averaging 22 over the last two seasons.

The former top prospect has two Silver Sluggers on his resume along with two top-10 MVP finishes. However, since teams started employing more defensive shifts, Bruce has seen his groundball BABIP plummet to a career low of .177 which translated to an abysmal .226 batting average in 2015. The 29 year-old still has two more years of team control (once Cincinnati exercises his $13MM club option for 2017). 2016 will be a big year in identifying if Bruce can adjust to the defensive shifts regularly assigned against him.

(EDIT: The team finally traded Jay Bruce after a productive first half of the 2016 season. Cincinnati sent him to the New York Mets to receive 2B Dilson Herrera and LHP Max Wotell [8/1/16]).

As much potential as Jay Bruce has as a former No. 1 overall prospect, CF Billy Hamilton might have even more. The 25 year-old attracted mainstream media attention when he broke the record for stolen bases in a single season with a whopping 155 between High-A/Double-A. Hamilton’s lightning speed has been on full display in the big leagues as he’s racked up 113 steals in his first two full seasons.

The problem with Hamilton has been his inability to get on base. If he was getting on base at the same rate he was able to in the minors (.351), he would instantly become one of the most valuable players in baseball because of what he can do on the base paths once he reaches first base safely. A player with Hamilton’s talent is a dime a dozen, but the results have been mediocre during his first two seasons. If Cincinnati can develop Hamilton into an on-base machine, he could lead the league in runs scored by a wide margin with his speed. They’ll have four more years to get the most out of him before he’s no longer under team control.

While the Reds are hoping two players with significant potential can figure things out in 2016, there isn’t much hope for the left field position. The team let Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, Jake Cave, Yorman Rodriguez, and Tyler Holt battle it out in Spring Training for the starting gig. The likeliest solution for Cincinnati has them going with Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler in some sort of platoon despite both players having a better track record against righties. This will be a situation to monitor as the season goes on. EDIT: Adam Duvall has become a lead breakout player of the year candidate by hitting an NL-leading 21 HR’s at the halfway point of the season while Schebler has struggled immensely against major league pitching.

Rodriguez and Holt don’t figure to ever become legitimate candidates to start in Cincinnati’s outfield going forward while Jake Cave will likely be sent back to the Yankees as a Rule 5 pick. Phil Ervin has the raw power to possibly be a starting right fielder himself, but his inability to hit outside or inside located pitches makes him a prime candidate to fail against rigorous major league pitching.

Fortunately for Cincinnati, they do have their No. 1 hitting prospect (according to Baseball America) almost ready to make his major league debut. Jesse Winker will begin the year in Triple-A, but could get called up to fill the void in left field as soon as this season. The 22 year-old has one of the sweetest swings in the minor leagues with a great swing path and lift that can drive the ball to any side of the field. Winker isn’t the fastest runner or the best fielder, so he’ll likely spend his career playing left field or first base to neutralize his weaknesses.

Future Outlook: The potential is there, but where is the production?  

As a player that set the minor league record in stolen bases, Billy Hamilton has a sky-high ceiling as the fastest player in baseball. However, not being able to hit safely or draw walks has significantly lowered his potential. Jay Bruce was once the No. 1 prospect in baseball, but defensive shifts have prevented him from being as productive as he once was. Left field is in shambles right now, but the team’s best hitting prospect should be saving the position soon enough. The potential is there for the Reds to possess a top-10 outfield, but the team needs to start seeing more production from its outfielders.

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Left-Handed Starting Pitchers (Present Rank: 26th | Future Rank: 8th)

For the last four years, the Cincinnati Reds have had the privilege of naming Johnny Cueto their opening day starter. When the Reds dealt Cueto to the Kansas City Royals before last season’s trade deadline, manager Bryan Price knew he wouldn’t have an ace-caliber pitcher on his roster anymore. Instead of one ace, the team targeted three lefties with ace-potential in the Cueto deal. Out of the three, Brandon Finnegan has the best chance to reach that potential the soonest.

While Finnegan reminds some of Billy Wagner from a delivery perspective, the Reds believe the 23 year-old can stay in the rotation for the long haul. He brings a mid-90’s heater to the table that he pairs with a plus slider and deceptive changeup. Finnegan made history in 2014 when he became the first player to ever play in the college World Series and the MLB World Series in the same year. This developing Reds team will give Finnegan every chance to remain a starter, but if it doesn’t work out, he still has a high floor as a dominant closer.

Cody Reed and John Lamb could both join him in the rotation at some point this season. While Finnegan is the closest to living up to his potential, Reed has the highest ceiling of the three. Reed had command problems early in his professional career, but started throwing his fastball closer to the low-90’s than the mid-90’s and he was able to drop his BB/9 from 3.9 in 2014 to 2.6 in 2015. Now he has the best chance of the three lefties in proving the Reds right for trading Cueto last July.  

John Lamb has the lowest ceiling of the three southpaws, but he has the most starting experience at the big league level. Lamb’s fastball isn’t highly regarded after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but his 75 MPH changeup has received plenty of attention. His balance of offspeed pitches helps make up for his underwhelming heater. The 25 year-old could fit in nicely as a back-end starter for Cincy going forward.

The only lefty that stood out as a potential starter before the Cueto trade is Amir Garrett. The 24 year-old hurler may appear to be an older prospect, but Garrett spent four years being a two-sport athlete at St. John’s University. He only started focusing on solely pitching two years ago. Now that he’s getting into a rhythm on the mound, scouts can see his mid-90’s fastball and explosive slider. His changeup is still developing, but Garrett made major strides with the pitch in 2015. If he keeps developing his game, Garrett could end up as a mid-rotation starter once he’s ready for the bigs by 2017/2018.

Future Outlook: One for three

Last July, the Reds traded their ace Johnny Cueto to the eventual world champions in Kansas City. In return, Cincinnati received three lefties who at some point were viewed as frontline starters. After Lamb’s Tommy John surgery, it’s unlikely that he will ever meet that expectation, but Finnegan and Reed still have a shot at filling the void left by Cueto. Amir Garrett may have a higher ceiling than any of the former Royals prospects, but he’s still very raw as he’s only pitched full-time for two years now.

The potential is there, but only time will tell if the trade worked out for both sides. Despite Cueto departing for San Fran in the offseason, Kansas City got a great return on the trade as proven by their 2015 World Series Championship. Finnegan, Reed, and Lamb have a lot to live up to for the deal to look good from Cincy’s side of things.

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Right-Handed Starting Pitchers (Present Rank: 24th | Future Rank: 10th)

With Johnny Cueto out of the picture, the Reds must find their next ace-caliber pitcher. The team named Raisel Iglesias as the Opening Day Starter hoping he will be able to take the ball and run with it. Some evaluators were expecting Anthony DeSclafani to be the No. 1 pitcher heading into the season, but the Reds like Iglesias’ upside. Iglesias had a strong rookie season last year that looks much stronger based on his peripherals (3.55 FIP, 3.71 K/BB, 1.143 WHIP). The 26 year-old will look to build on that as he enters year two. He’s one of two righties the Reds believe can eventually be that frontline starter they so desperately need. He ended the season with “shoulder fatigue” but has been looking good in Spring Training.

Anthony DeSclafani on the other hand stayed healthy in 2015 and was the only pitcher in Cincinnati to throw over 137 innings. He won’t be under any innings limit like Iglesias, but he also doesn’t have the ceiling Iglesias has. Desclafani surprised many last year by having such a strong rookie season despite being viewed as a future back-end starter at the time the Reds traded for him (while giving up former ace Mat Latos in the deal with Miami). DeSclafani shattered those low expectations in 2015 and will look to keep exceeding any prediction set for him. The 26 year-old will likely settle in as a mid-rotation starter.

Homer Bailey would surely come in as the leader of the staff, but he’ll miss the majority of the season while he recovers from Tommy John surgery last May. Bailey has never pitched like an ace, but for a team like Cincy, he would instantly emerge as the best starter on the team. If he can recover from TJ surgery, the former seventh overall pick would immediately become the oldest member of the staff. In Bailey’s year and a half removed from the game, he went from comfortably sitting in the middle of the rotation, to being needed as a leader and mentor for this young staff. As a 29 year-old that already inked a $105MM contract, I’m sure he’s okay with that though.

Jon Moscot is the only other starter that could return to the rotation in 2016. However, his mediocre stuff would make him nothing more than a spot starter on the other 29 teams in the league. The Reds will be deadful in 2016, but they won’t be bad enough to need Moscot to start unless multiple starters suffer injuries. They claimed Dan Straily off waivers right before the season, but he hasn’t been effective in the majors since 2013. They signed Alfredo Simon to a  $2MM contract as an insurance policy in case numerous pitchers hit the disabled list, but Simon’s better days are behind him and his 2015 season (5.05 ERA) was absolutely unacceptable for a major league pitcher.

Luckily for Cincinnati, their No. 1 overall prospect should be ready for the show at some point this season. Robert Stephenson receives praise for his athleticism that could assist him in pitching over 200 innings multiple times in his career. As far as stuff goes, the 23 year-old has a great fastball/curveball combination that could play up in a major league bullpen right now. Once he improves his changeup, he could be a real factor in Cincy’s rotation for years to come.

Three other pitchers that could one day crack the rotation for Cincinnati are Tyler Mahle, Nick Travieso, and Keury Mella. Mella has the strongest arm, but with all the young pitchers in Cincy’s system along with the fact Mella’s mechanics feature a high arm slot and an off-center stride, he’s likely to end up in the bullpen. Rookie Davis also has an outside shot at claiming a future starting role, but even after getting traded for Aroldis Chapman, he doesn’t have the explosiveness in his repertoire to consistently get major league batters out. Ian Kahaloa and Antonio Santillan still have a chance to be a part of the rotation, but they are years away from making an impact and need to show they can throw strikes more consistently.

Mahle and Travieso on the other hand are on the fast track for a long stay in the rotation. Mahle has done nothing but dominate in his minor league career thus far. He’s a bit inconsistent with his command currently, but the movement on his pitches, especially his fastball, have scouts thinking he could exceed the back-end starter projection. Travieso has also had a very successful last two seasons and an even more impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League in 2015. He won’t blow it by anybody, but he he’s a safe pick to become a back-end starter because of his repeatable delivery, solid command, and low-stress delivery.

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Future Outlook: Cueto’s departure leaves a gaping hole

The Reds could have the worst rotation in the league this year. With Homer Bailey recovering from Tommy John surgery and Raisel Iglesias on an innings limit, the Reds are shorthanded this season. DeSclafani could emerge as the best righty this season, but even he already exceeded expectations by being an average starter in 2015. With a number of high-ceiling righties in the farm system (Stephenson, Mahle, Mella), Cincinnati is hoping at least one of them can emerge as a legitimate ace. If not, they’ll be feeling the burn of Cueto’s departure for years to come.

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Bullpen (Present Rank: 30th | Future Rank: 4th)

As bad as the Reds roster is at other positions, the bullpen might be the weakest dimension of the time and possibly the worst unit in the league. It all starts at the top with lackluster closer Tony Cingrani. Now that Aroldis Chapman is rockin’ Yankee pinstripes, the 6’4” Cingrani will be the frontrunner for save opportunities in 2016. Once seen as a future impact starter, Cingrani is now coming off of back-to-back disappointing campaigns. His stock is as low as it’s ever been and only a complete rebound this season would keep him on a major league roster.

JJ Hoover and Jumbo Diaz are also candidates to take over the closer role if Cingrani’s elite fastball doesn’t resonate to production. Of course neither Hoover nor Diaz comes without their flaws either. Hoover gives up as many home runs as Todd Frazier’s brother during the Home Run Derby while Diaz makes every lefty he faces seem like Barry Bonds at the plate.

Michael Lorenzen starting the season on the disabled list with an elbow injury highlights Cincinnati’s depleted pitching staff. Lorenzen was a college reliever turned professional starter before the wheels started coming off in his rookie season. Lorenzen had an outside shot at landing a spot in the rotation, but this latest setback combined with the Reds’ awful bullpen situation likely keeps Lorenzen in the bullpen for the foreseeable future where his fastball will be much more valuable.

The rest of the bullpen is likely to shuffle throughout the year, but Pedro Villarreal, Ross Ohlendorf, Stephen Johnson, and Dayan Diaz have the best shot at sticking around. Blake Wood, Josh Smith, Caleb Cotham, and A.J. Morris could get a chance to come out of the ‘pen in 2016 as well.

Zack Weiss is still a couple years away from making an impact, but he’s impressing thus far in the lower ranks. His mid-90’s fastball/slider combination could keep him in the bullpen for years. Alejandro Chacin and Jimmy Herget are less recognized prospects, but both pitchers have solid track records in the minors. If they can keep it up, they could be quality contributors in Cincy’s bullpen a few years from now.

Future Outlook: Convert as many starters as possible

The Reds have a serious problem with the state of their franchise. They have an excess amount of young, unproven starters that likely won’t have as great of an impact in the rotation as they would in the bullpen. The organization needs to identify which pitchers would fit best in the bullpen and which starters should remain in the rotation. We’ve already seen them convert Cingrani and Lorenzen. The real question is who’s next?

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OVERALL OUTLOOK: Steps in the right direction

After failing to win a single playoff series in over 20 years, the Reds are officially recognizing their lackluster roster and are beginning to go into a full rebuild-mode. While players like Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton are presumably not going anywhere, long-time contributors like Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Zack Cozart, and Devin Mesoraco don’t look to be a part of the team’s future outlook either.

A rotation headed by Brandon Finnegan or Anthony DeSclafani in 2016 might not sell many tickets, but with a exorbitant amount of young pitching stashed in the minors, the rotation is certainly going to improve over the next few years. Walt Jocketty’s real work will be trying to surround Votto and Hamilton with All-Star caliber talent in the lineup. Acquiring Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler over the offseason was a good start, but there’s still multiple positions that need to be addressed for the long haul. The Reds’ future outlook appears bleak right now, but with the right moves Cincy can build themselves back into contenders once the 2020’s arrive.

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