Earlier today the Cincinnati Reds finally placed Devin Mesoraco on the disabled list. Taking his place was reliever Manny Parra, who was activated off of the disabled list. This move was a short term move, but it leaves the Reds bench short. It currently consists of Tucker Barnhart, Kristopher Negron, Brennan Boesch and Skip Schumaker. A reliever is going to be replaced on the roster with a bench player, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.
Who that player will be is up in the air. The first place to always look is on the 40-man roster. There are only five players on the 40-man roster that are healthy right now and also position players. One of them is catcher Kyle Skipworth, who I can’t imagine is going to be brought in as a third catcher. That leaves just four players: Infielders Chris Dominguez (also plays plenty of outfield) and Eugenio Suarez, and outfielders Yorman Rodriguez and Kyle Waldrop. Of that group, only Waldrop is not in Triple-A.
The Reds had a good look at Dominguez in spring training, gave him a spot on the roster for opening day, but he went 0-3 with three strikeouts before being sent down. He’s hitting .202 with Louisville right now, and while he’s been better in May, he’s still struggling with the bat.
Eugenio Suarez is just 23-years-old and the Reds have shown that they don’t seem to have much faith in young players on their bench. He had a rough April, but is hitting .284/.393/.446 in the month of May. As a shortstop, he could probably handle third or second as well coming off of the bench if needed. Of the group on the 40-man roster, he’s probably the best fit, but the Reds would probably rather he play every day in Louisville than sit on the bench for the big league club.
Yorman Rodriguez, like Suarez, had a rough April. The outfielder has picked things up in May, hitting .271 and he’s slugging .506, but he has just three walks and 27 strikeouts on the month too. That rate doesn’t bode well for success against big league pitching. Toss in that he’s just 22-years-old and the center fielder is probably in the same situation as Suarez, where the organization would feel better about him playing every day in Louisville than riding the bench in Cincinnati.
Then there is Kyle Waldrop down in Double-A. He’s hitting .316 in May with a .516 slugging percentage, but like Rodriguez he’s struggled with his plate discipline. In both April and May he has had exactly two walks and 22 strikeouts. Those rates don’t bode well for success against big leaguers. He’s just 23-years-old, and with a lack of Triple-A experience, he’d be a long shot to come up and sit on the bench as a pinch hitter for the team.
That leaves open the possibility for someone to come up that isn’t on the 40-man roster. There are options to clear a spot on the roster. The team could move Mesoraco to the 60-day disabled list if they wanted to. They could designate a player for assignment if needed as well. Who are the options they could choose from though?
Looking down at Louisville there seems to be four options to consider: Ivan De Jesus, Irving Falu, Hernan Iribarren and Steve Selsky. Let’s take a quick look at the numbers put up by each player so far this season:
|Ivan De Jesus||175||.314||.389||.410||18||35|
Ivan De Jesus had a very big month of April, but has cooled off some in May. Despite cooling off, he’s still posted a .362 OBP in the month, but his power has dropped off, with half as many extra-base hits in May than he had in less time during April. He’s been getting on base and has had a solid contact rate while providing outstanding defense everywhere on the infield. He could potentially provide a lot of position flexibility off of the bench as well as be a solid bat, though one without home run power. He also provides some big league experience, though it has been limited.
Irving Falu also had a big April, and he’s cooled off some in May. His cool down though has still led to a .299/.356/.373 line on the month with as many walks as strikeouts. He has played exclusively at second base this season for Louisville, though last year with the Brewers Triple-A team he split time at shortstop and third as well as second. As a switch hitter he would provide something from both sides, though he’s been significantly better as a left handed hitter this season (though he was much better as a right hander last season). Like De Jesus, he has limited big league experience and could potentially provide some position flexibility and a solid bat coming of of the bench.
Hernan Iribarren has less time this season than the rest of the group, but he didn’t play in his first game of the year until April 27th. since then he’s been solid across the board. There’s not much power to speak of, but he makes plenty of contact and understands the strikezone with good plate discipline. He’s also played all around the field, seeing action this season at third base, second base, shortstop and left field for the Louisville Bats. He too has limited big league experience.
Steve Selsky has the best OPS among the group, hitting .337/.382/.495 for the Bats. Unlike the rest of the group though, he doesn’t have quite the same skills at the plate to make contact and he’s got the lowest walk rate among the group with just seven walks and 25 strikeouts this season. He’s got the most power among the bunch, but in 84 career Triple-A games he has just three home runs so he isn’t exactly a power threat. Defensively he’s been a corner outfielder and first baseman in his career, so he provides limited defensive value. Unlike the other three, he also has no big league experience, but he’s also easily the youngest of the group at just 25-years-old.
Depending on exactly what the Reds are looking for to fill out there bench will depend on who makes the most sense to call up, but in most cases it would seem that either Ivan De Jesus or Irving Falu would make the best choice. Both can provide position flexibility and have the potential to be solid bats coming off of the bench. If the team is looking for some pure power to come off of the bench, they could buck their trend of late and bring up Kyle Waldrop from Double-A. In that scenario you’d have to imagine they would try to find more ways to get him playing time than just as a pinch hitter, starting him every few days in the corner outfield spots or at first to give Votto a day off.
Along that same line, Eugenio Suarez has been no slouch for Triple-A and while the organization would love for him to play every day, he is probably the best player right now among the group. That doesn’t always make for the best bench player, as some guys are better suited to playing once a week than others, but Suarez provides the most current talent from the group talked about within this article.
Whoever gets the call to come up and fill out the Reds bench will be a welcome addition. Outside of Tucker Barnhart, the Cincinnati Reds bench has been absolutely atrocious this season, particularly at the plate. Adding someone to shake things up, much less bring a potential to hit off of the bench would be a big boost for the club.