The Cincinnati Reds may not have done much in the way of big league moves, but on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday they made their first minor league moves as they signed five free agents to minor league contracts.
Things were kicked off on Wednesday as the team signed catcher Kyle Skipworth and right handed pitcher Jose Cisnero. They followed that up by re-signing infielder Marquez Smith. On Friday they picked up two infielders as they grabbed corner infielder Josh Satin and middle infielder Ivan De Jesus.
Let’s get some background information on these guys.
Skipworth is a former top prospect of the Marlins. He was the 6th overall pick in the 2008 draft out of high school. He had four plate appearances with the Marlins in 2013, but that is the extent of his big league time. Despite his high draft spot he has never lived up to the selection. He has topped a .700 OPS once in his career, all of the way back in 2009. He’s a career .215 minor league hitter with a .279 on-base percentage. He’s had real plate discipline issues with 162 career walks and 715 career strikeouts. He does have some power to work with and he will be just 25-years-old in 2015. Defensively he’s solid, but nothing stands out.
The right hander has spent parts of the last two seasons in the big leagues as he has 48.1 innings in his career with a 4.66 ERA. He missed most of the 2014 season though after going down in May with a torn UCL and he had Tommy John surgery. The reliever is a power arm who topped out at 98 MPH this season and averaged over 95 MPH in limited action at the big league level. He throws a 4-seam fastball, change up, slider and a curveball. He’s a former starter who the Astros moved into the bullpen in the 2013 season. He has a history of struggling to throw strikes with a career walk rate of 4.6 walks per 9 innings pitched in the minor leagues. He has missed plenty of bats along the way as well with 42 strikeouts in 28.2 innings over the last two seasons in Triple-A and 46 strikeouts in 48.1 big league innings with 26 walks.
Smith has been in the system for the last two years and has put up incredible numbers for the Bakersfield Blaze. I won’t go into his background much as he’s been with the team for a few years now and everyone is familiar with him.
Satin will be 30-years-old when the season begins and he has seen time in four Major League seasons, but only one of those seasons did he see more than 45 plate appearances. In 2013 he saw 221 plate appearances and was outstanding as he hit .279/.376/.405 for the Mets, good for a 123 OPS+ (Jay Bruce territory – which shows you the park effects in action). In the minor leagues he’s been quite good with an OPS of .911 and .825 in the last two seasons with a lot of walks and moderate power output.He’s spent time at first base, third base and even played 17 games at second base in 2014. He even made it into a game as a left fielder in 2013. I’d wager he has a decent shot to make the big league team as a utility bench player. He can play several positions and looks to be a solid bat off of the bench.
Ivan De Jesus
The infielder has limited action in the big leagues, seeing action in 2011 and 2012 with the Dodgers. He’s hit just .205/.253/.247 in 80 plate appearances. He’s moved around a bit in the last few years, playing with the Dodgers, Pirates, Orioles and Red Sox (in two different stints) farm systems since the 2012 season. De Jesus is known for his glove, but has also hit some at the minor league level where he has a .298/.369/.395 career line. He has experience at shortstop, second base and third base.
These are all good signings for the Reds. Skipworth stands out as the outlier in the sense that unlike the others, he’s really lacked the production that the others have had. Still, he has some upside to work with and if he can even become a platoon type of guy, at the catcher position that has plenty of value. De Jesus and Satin could both fit into the Reds bench plans out of spring training in the right scenario and if nothing else give the team good depth to work with. Marquez Smith returning will get him out of Bakersfield, if for no other reason than he actually can’t play there with the Reds, but he should be heading to Double-A to play for the Blue Wahoos. Cisnero is another signing that I love. Assuming he is ready to go by the start of the season he could fit into the bullpen with a big time arm. If not, he certainly provides depth for the bullpen and gives the team options to work with.